The inability to provide good jobs for all even in the best of times is a key failure of the modern economy — one that reinforces inequities, squanders human potential, and takes a tremendous toll on society. Despite a booming economy, millions of workers remain jobless or underemployed, more than 40 percent of American workers earn less than $15/hour, and 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency. This is neither sustainable nor necessary. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inclusion of guaranteed living-wage work in his Second Bill of Rights, to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s call for guaranteed jobs in the fight for racial and economic justice, to the call by environmental justice advocates for a Job Guarantee in the Green New Deal, visionary leaders know a Job Guarantee is a potent solution.
Good jobs for all would become our reality. With a Federal Job Guarantee, the devastating experience of not finding work would become obsolete. People facing discrimination in the job market would have an alternative to going without or going underground. Workers would no longer be stuck in jobs where they are harassed or unsafe, or where they experience wage theft. No workers would need to toil in poverty-wage jobs with unstable and disruptive schedules. Poverty, racial and gender inequity, and working poverty would all decline. And when the next downturn hits, workers could take up guaranteed jobs, moderating the effects of the recession for everyone.
We could revitalize communities and counter climate change. A Federal Job Guarantee would make it possible to meet neglected community needs and manifest community aspirations. It could deliver on the environmental restoration and energy-efficiency projects needed to address climate change. It could help meet our demands for elder care for our aging population, strengthen our child care infrastructure, and support our public school teachers. It could make public art accessible to all and bring new resources and hope to hard-hit local economies. And a Federal Job Guarantee removes a major barrier to countering our environmental crisis: fear of job loss.