Federal Jobs Guarantee Program Legislation Reintroduced To Tackle High-Unemployment In Distressed Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) reintroduced the bicameral Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, legislation that would establish a model federal jobs guarantee program in up to 15 high-unemployment communities and regions across the United States.

The model federal jobs guarantee program will:

  • Select up to 15 sites across the country facing high unemployment based on local need and assets, ensuring that work would advance critical local and national priorities that the private sector under-provides, like child and elder care, infrastructure, and community revitalization;
  • Guarantee that every adult with residence in a pilot community may participate in a guaranteed job. Jobs will include a minimum wage phasing in to $17/hour, paid family and sick leave, and health coverage like that enjoyed by Members of Congress;
  • Require that each pilot community creates a “Community Job Bank” website, which will feature high-impact jobs sourced primarily by local communities, as well as Federal agencies, based on their needs and priorities;
  • Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize private employers to recruit and hire participants out of the pilot program; and
  • Authorize a rigorous evaluation of the program’s implementation and impact across a number of metrics, including unemployment rates, private sector wages, safety net spending, and incarceration rates.

“Every adult should have access to a job with a living wage, good benefits, and safe working conditions,” said Senator Booker.Thanks to President Biden, Americans are seeing the highest wage increases in decades and employed at historic levels. However, nearly 15 million American workers remain on the sidelines. A federal job guarantee program will bring more people into the labor force and help address the labor shortages within key sectors that are currently underserved. I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing this important legislation that will not only uplift hundreds of thousands of workers and build resilient communities but also advance our local and national priorities that will help our economy thrive.”

“While the economy has rebounded under the leadership of President Biden, we still have much work to do. We have roads and bridges in disrepair, families that can’t find childcare, and aging and toxic water infrastructure which means there are plenty of jobs available and unfilled. This is not the result of a lack of people willing to do the work, it’s a gap created because localities cannot afford to pay them. The Federal Jobs Guarantee Act creates a pilot program for the communities who need it most, giving good paying jobs to people who have suffered while both wages and opportunities have lagged. The work they’ll do will make tangible improvements in those same communities and reverberate through the national economy,” said Representative Watson Coleman.

“Thanks to President Biden and Democrats in Congress, we are currently experiencing record low unemployment and a growing economy. But many Minnesotans are still struggling with irregular hours, low wages, and rising costs. Every single American should have access to a job—a good job. That’s why I am proud to partner with my colleagues Senator Booker and Representative Watson-Coleman to ensure that everyone will be guaranteed a job, in addition to $17 an hour and paid family and sick leave. These will include jobs repairing our roads and bridges, transitioning to a clean energy economy and retrofitting schools and hospitals. As we confront the ravages of the climate crisis, this is the kind of visionary policy we should be pursuing,” said Representative Omar.

“Our economy falls far short of creating enough quality jobs for everyone who wants to work. Testing an ambitious community-based jobs guarantee would help us move toward a nation that ensures good jobs for everyone–especially people experiencing discrimination in the labor market, including Black workers and other workers of color, people with disabilities, and caregivers,” said Laura Tatum, Senior Director, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Specifically, the Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act would:

  • Address structural unemployment and underemployment: Even in today’s economy, with unemployment at 3.6%, more than 8 million Americans are unemployed, marginally attached, or employed part-time for economic reasons. A job guarantee would bring workers off the sidelines and into the labor market, serving demographics and geographies—including young people, African American, and rural communities—that experience higher-than-average unemployment rates and who may be left behind by monetary policy tools.
  • Introduce competition to the labor market: In 2021, a minimum wage of $17 would have benefitted 51 million workers—nearly one-third of all workers. However, current low wages are driven in part by labor market concentration, which gives employers the ability to reduce wages for lower- and middle-income workers. The “public option” job acts as a de facto floor on private sector wages and benefits; since workers can freely enter the pilot program, employers who pay poverty-level wages and fail to offer competitive benefits will be unable to attract or maintain employees.
  • Advance vital local and national priorities: The output of these investments—child- and elder-care, infrastructure, and community revitalization, among others—is valuable and unlikely to be provided at a proper scale by the private markets, particularly in low- and moderate-income communities.The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The legislation is endorsed by the following organizations: The Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy, The New School, Jobs With Justice, The Unity Council, Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, and Full Employment Now-Political Action Committee (FEN-PAC).

The full text of the bill can be found here


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