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Advocates pushing for federal job guarantee

By Nadia Ramlagan, Tennessee Public News Service

The effort to enact a federal job-guarantee policy is gaining momentum politically, as more groups, legislators and individuals call for livable wages and economic security for families. Comments from Sarah Treuhaft (pronounced true-haft), managing director at PolicyLink.

Some advocates are pushing for what they call a federal job guarantee, legislation that would ensure that anyone who needs a good job has one. The Federal Jobs for All campaign, which launched this week, has more than five hundred supporters. Sarah Treuhaft of the group PolicyLink says while nationwide employment may be low, the data doesn’t take into account job quality or economic security.

“The inability to provide good jobs for all is really a key failure of our economy. So, too many of the jobs we’re creating are low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet or provide for a family. Some 44% of American workers now earn less than $18,000 per year.”

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Several representatives have proposed policies that would create pilot federal job-guarantee programs in communities across the country. In addition, the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, also includes a job guarantee.

Treuhaft points out that local businesses, social services and taxpayers end up bearing the consequences of high unemployment.

“I think we need to think about the cost that we’re paying right now for continued joblessness and for leaving people behind in our economy.”

She adds that livable wages and good jobs are connected to the overall health and well-being of communities.

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“Employment and income are correlated with all kinds of outcomes for health, well being, for democratic participation. We really need to think of it as an investment instead of a cost.”

Sixty-one counties in Tennessee have unemployment rates below 5 percent, while 34 counties now have unemployment rates at or above 5 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Some advocates are pushing for what they call a federal job guarantee, legislation that would ensure that anyone who needs a good job has one. 

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