Sunday, April 26, 2009

W.P.A., ’30s Stimulus, Left Its Stamp on Suburban New York Region -

W.P.A., ’30s Stimulus, Left Its Stamp on Suburban New York Region -

"...[T]he W.P.A. did more than build or improve highways, parks, schools and hospitals. Artists executed murals still on display in government buildings on Long Island and throughout Connecticut. Writers compiled archives in New Jersey towns that had limited or no organized records. Actors and other performers entertained audiences through the Federal Theater Project, a vibrant part of the W.P.A.

“There’s this stereotype that people who worked for the W.P.A. were all raking leaves,” said Natalie A. Naylor, emeritus professor of history at Hofstra University and former director of the university’s Long Island Studies Institute. “That’s not really accurate at all. You had music programs and art programs in addition to construction projects.”

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Nebraska says Hooray for Public Jobs - Lincoln, Nebraska - Living - Gz - Books: "Despite all the jokes about workers leaning on shovels and the “disgrace” of being on the public payroll, those millions of workers in every one of the nation’s counties remade the face of America. The results were stupendous."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The WPA helped Buffalo

OK -- who's done anything for Buffalo lately?? Let's help the heartland now. Buffalo, NY 1930's WPA Projects Shape Buffalo:

"As lawmakers argue and critics wrangle over the current federal stimulus money and where it should be spent, it may be worth a look back at the public works projects of the 1930's. "

"Parts of Delaware Avenue, the Buffalo Zoo and the Aud were all federally funded works projects from the late 1930's."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US needs more than Stimulus Bump

"..Let’s not pretend this short-term, ad hoc spending remotely addresses America’s infrastructure needs. The United States desperately requires a forward-looking plan for 21st century infrastructure that can support and sustain renewed economic growth and accommodate 100 million more Americans over the next 40 years..."

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spotlight on Trade Adjustment benefits

Interesting piece on Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits and how they are administered, and the challenges in providing fair help to displaced workers, from the Wall St. Journal.

Crazy-Quilt Jobless Programs Help Some More Than Others -
April 20, 2009

The U.S. unemployment system is an uneven field of haves, have-nots and borderline cases, all found among the laid-off workers of a Maine company that makes beer-tap handles and croquet mallets.

When workers at a wholesale unit of Saunders Brothers lost their jobs in recent months, they qualified for Maine's standard state unemployment benefits of up to 26 weeks. Those laid off from a different Saunders plant qualified for a richer package -- two years of unemployment checks, health-care subsidies, free college and other perks...

A tiny slice of America's jobless currently receives the [Trade Adjustment Assistance] benefits -- some 50,000 people, out of more than 5 million now collecting unemployment checks. But an examination of the TAA program and recent awards suggest that the pool of potential beneficiaries could be far larger. With new unemployment claims at a 26-year high and the program expanding, the number of applicants is poised to jump...

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Create more good jobs for direct care workers!

Thanks to Margarite Rosenthal for suggesting this great resource.

As Congress considers addition legislation to boost the flagging economy, they should consider additiona measures to support job creation and wage enhancements for direct care workers.

New Issue Brief on Recovery Plan Resources for Direct Care Workers

"WASHINGTON - April 1 - In these uncertain economic times, as states look for ways to cut costs and services, we may be tempted to use stimulus funds for 'Band-Aid solutions.' Instead, a new policy brief from the Direct Care Alliance, Using Recovery Act Funds to Improve Direct Care Jobs and the Quality of Direct Care Services, seizes the opportunity to improve these vital jobs now - and to set the stage for future improvements.

The brief, authored by CEPR's Shawn Fremstad, identifies funding available through President Barack Obama's Recovery Plan that could be used to invest in direct care workers through several means, including wages, education, and research that shows how improving direct care jobs improves care quality.

Recovery Act funds must be allocated for activities that will stimulate the economy, and how better to do that than by investing in direct care work, one of the fastest-growing sectors of our nation's economy? Any dollars we pass on to these low-wage workers would be used to purchase essential goods and services, multiplying their stimulus effect.

The full brief is available from CEPR or the Direct Care Alliance."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Brown-Stabenow push "Green Jobs and Infrastructure Act"

Jobs at issue as labor-enviro coalitions stump for climate bill -
Published: April 16, 2009

The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, is launching a media blitz aimed at promoting passage of legislation its members hope will boost domestic renewable energy and create 'green' jobs and services... The alliance, whose endorsers include the Sierra Club and AFL-CIO, is lobbying Congress to include language in either a climate or energy bill this session that provides loans and grants to U.S. manufacturing companies to 'retool' their factories to make everything from wind turbines for the prairie to insulated glass for buildings.

The 'Apollo Green Manufacturing Plan' that the group released yesterday also calls for tying federal support to manufacturers' ability to meet labor's and 'Made in America' content standards. The plan also calls for a presidential 'clean energy manufacturing' task force and federal support to streamline clean-energy component supply chains...

The Apollo Alliance does not suggest a dollar amount nor a jobs target in its plan. But Gordon estimated that the 'Green Jobs and Infrastructure Act,' introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in January, would create 1 million direct manufacturing and indirect jobs via $50 billion in loan guarantees.

The Stabenow-Brown bill has not gained traction on Capitol Hill, Gordon conceded, so she would like to see similar language added to a climate or energy bill. The Blue Green Alliance, which helped craft the Apollo Alliance's plan, is also taking to the airwaves in support of a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill.

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Unemployment spikes in March

From the National Jobs for All Coalition


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 7.8
million, and the jobless rate was 5.1 percent.

African American
Asian** 6.4%
Men 20 years and over
Women 20 years and over
Teen-agers (16-19 years)
Black teens
Officially unemployed
13.2 million


Working part-time because can't find a full-time job: 9.0 million
People who want jobs but are not looking are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.1 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.) 5.8 million
Total: 28.0 million (17.5% of the labor force)
Publish Post

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2007, the latest year available, that number was 17.6 million, 16.2 percent of full-time workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the Census, 2008).

In February, 2009, the latest month available, the number of job openings was only 3.0 million, according to the BLS, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, April 7, 2009.+ Thus there are more than 9 job-wanters for each available job.

[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Economic stimulus -- then and now

Economic stimulus -- then and now -

Nice piece with lots of details on WPA projects in the Bay Area!

"'We have allowed our sense of public life to wither and die and to be content with the bare minimum of everything,' said Robert D. Leighninger Jr., author of 'Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal.'

'Now, we don't want to pay for schools, and things like public art and museums are regarded as frills instead of things that we can all enjoy. We don't have a sense of what public life could be like if we were willing to pay for it.'"

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Friday Activists Hit the Streets in Dayton, OH

Rally For Jobs Held
View TV coverage at:

Posted: 10:39 am EDT April 3, 2009
Updated: 12:33 pm EDT April 3, 2009

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Miami Valley Full Employment Council, along with support from Jobs with Justice, held a Rally for Jobs event on Friday morning to bring attention to the unemployed.
The event was held at 11 a.m. at the Jobs Center on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard.

Officials said some neighborhoods in the Dayton area are near or already experiencing depression-like conditions. They said the number of unemployed and people living in poverty is past the level of being acceptable.

The employment council said on any given night there are hundreds of people who are homeless and living on the streets. It also said that food pantries are seeing an increased number of people who are seeking food.

The event was held to bring attention to the need for jobs and an effective safety net to protect the unemployed and others who have been hurt by the recent economic crisis.

The National Jobs for All Coalition is rallying to demand living-wage jobs for everyone who wants to work. It also wants to ensure that there is adequate income and support for all unemployed, underemployed and underpaid workers.

The coalition is also seeking new programs of public and private job creation.

On the first Friday of every month, the U.S. Labor Department releases the previous month’s unemployment numbers.

Officials said In February 2009, more than 650,000 jobs were lost, which is the highest monthly rate of job loss since 1949, bringing the national unemployment rate to 8.1 percent.
At this time, 12.5 million people are unemployed, and an additional 14.2 million are classified as hidden unemployed, either because they can’t find full-time work or are not looking because they are too discouraged.

The coalition is working with Jobs with Justice to hold a town meeting on the economic crisis on April 14, at College Hill Community Church, which is located at 1547 Philadelphia Drive, at 7 p.m.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Meltdown 101: Job losses highest in 50 years

Meltdown 101: Job losses highest in 50 years
from the Associated Press 4/3/09:

"Here's another sign of how bad the recession is: It has eliminated more jobs as a proportion of the work force than any downturn since 1958, according to economists.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers cut 663,000 jobs last month, bringing the total net losses in the current recession to 5.1 million. The unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent in March, the department said, the highest in more than 25 years.

Total net payrolls have dropped by 3.7 percent since the downturn began in December 2007. That's more than the 3.1 percent loss of jobs in the steep 1981-82 recession, according to economists at Deutsche Bank. It's far more than the 1.2 percent lost in the 2001 downturn and 1.1 percent in 1990-91, and it also tops the 1.6 percent of jobs lost in the 1973-75 recession.

You have to go back even earlier to find a worse figure, according to Deutsche Bank: In 1957-58, job losses totaled 4 percent. The current recession will likely beat that total if job losses continue to mount, as economists expect.

There are many other nuggets of data buried in the fine print of Friday's employment report. Here are a few of the more interesting details, by the numbers.
13.2 million: People unemployed in March 2009 — the most ever in records that date to 1948
12.8 million: Population of Illinois, President Obama's home state
663,000: Net loss of jobs in March 2009
637,000: Population of Baltimore
4.3 percent: Unemployment rate for college graduates
9 percent: Unemployment rate for people who graduated from high school but did not attend college
13.3 percent: Unemployment rate for those with no high school diploma
9 million: Number of part-time workers who would have preferred full-time work last month — the most in records dating to 1955
2.1 million: People without jobs who wanted to work, were available and had looked in the last 12 months, but had not looked in the last month.
15.6 percent: Unemployment rate including involuntary part-time workers and those who hadn't looked in 12 months — the highest in records dating to 1994
8.5 percent: Unemployment rate in March 2009
10.8 percent: Unemployment rate in December 1982, one month after deep recession ended
October 1983: Last time the unemployment rate was higher than the current level
59.9 percent: Portion of the total population that had jobs in February
July 1985: Last time the portion was this low
8.8 percent: Adult men
7 percent: Adult women
10.8 percent: Female heads of households
6.4 percent: Asians
7.9 percent: Whites
11.4 percent: Hispanics
13.3 percent: Blacks
21.7 percent: Teenagers
5.1 million: Net job losses since recession began in December 2007
651,000: Jobs lost in February 2009
741,000: Jobs lost in January 2009
681,000: Jobs lost in December 2008
122,000: Jobs lost in March 2008

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Stimulus Dollars Held Hostage in South Carolina

Charleston Regional Business Journal Charleston, SC:

Sanford to take stimulus, hold it until Legislature acts

By James T. Hammond
Published April 3, 2009

Gov. Mark Sanford said today he would accept the $700 million in federal stimulus money but would not release it unless the General Assembly agrees to pay down debt with state tax dollars.

He said he was accepting the money to stop other states from claiming the funds. Sanford has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as from the public, for his stance against accepting the money. He had until midnight today to accept the funds.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell blasted Sanford on Thursday for refusing to accept the disputed funds, saying the Republican chief executive will have “shirked his responsibility to the taxpayers” if he fails to act.

“We are at the eleventh hour of this debate,” said Harrell, the Republican House leader. “It’s time for the nonsense to stop and for the governor to request the funds our citizens will have to pay back anyway.”

...Harrell said the “most disturbing” part of Sanford’s news conference Thursday, however, came during discussion of jobs and unemployment.

“Given our state’s current 11% unemployment rate, the second-worst unemployment rate in the country, the governor was asked what his job creation plan was,” Harrell said.

“Unfortunately, the governor had no answer to the question.”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Learning from the New Deal

Cross Posted from UNC Press Blog

Job Programs and Stimulus II: What We Can Learn from New Deal Programs

I’m pleased to have a guest post today from Frank Stricker, author of Why America Lost the War on Poverty — And How to Win It, which we published in 2007. That book focused on the second half of the twentieth century. In his current work, Stricker’s looking more closely at unemployment and job creation, and looking further back in time, to the New Deal, to explore what works and what doesn’t. In this post, he offers five important lessons we can learn from New Deal job programs and policies and he urges citizen involvement in helping shape the legislative response to the current economic crisis so that we can actually experience a real recovery. — Ellen C. Bush, Copy Chief and Blog Editor, UNC Press Blog

An underlying theme of my book Why America Lost the War on Poverty was that the widening gap between job seekers and good jobs was a major cause of poverty. As I finished the book, I thought about the need for a deeper analysis of unemployment and underemployment. I joined the National Jobs for All Coalition and began writing “Everybody’s Guide to Jobs and Unemployment in America: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

In Why America Lost, I proposed that the federal government directly create good jobs — some of them government jobs — to cut unemployment and lift wages. But there were no examples in the period since 1950 that such a project could be done well. In the new book I examine job programs of the New Deal to extract useable lessons.

The first requirement of studying the 1930s is a balanced view of the New Deal. Conservatives Tyler Cowan and Amity Shlaes claim that the New Deal did not bring full recovery. True enough; despite eight years of federal programs, employment and output had not fully recovered by 1941. But the New Deal was a vast improvement over Hoover’s fanatical refusal to use the central government to fix things. During his presidency (1929-1933), output and employment fell by 30%. From Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1933, private investment began to recover and millions of jobs were created in government programs. In 1937 real output was 44% over the 1933 level. That was not enough to employ everyone who needed job, but it was also not an utter failure. Overall, government promoted recovery, but its timidity, fueled by conservatism inside and outside the administration, limited its effectiveness.

Recently, the Bush administration spent eight years proving that government cannot work efficiently and humanely, but history shows that it does not have to be that way. After four years of Hoover-and-Mellon-do-nothingism in the face of soaring unemployment, the New Deal offered cash and jobs to destitute Americans. And quickly, too. Roosevelt created the Civil Works Administration on November 9 and Harry Hopkins paid a million workers on November 23. Over the winter of 1933-1934, four million CWA employees built or improved 500,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, and 3500 playgrounds. They restored every park in New York City, compiled accurate lists of historic American buildings, and engaged in a hundred other useful tasks, from teaching to archeological work.

Beginning in 1935, the Works Progress Administration employed 2 to 3 million people a month. Workers constructed or repaired roads and bridges. Some served as nursery and adult school teachers; librarians delivered books to the backwoods by boat and horse. Thousands of artists decorated public buildings. Two hundred thousand WPA workers were mobilized to help victims of a massive flood in the Ohio Valley.

Some of the credit for the success of New Deal job programs rests on the fact that the depression was so dire that people wanted radical programs. Some credit belongs to Roosevelt who, despite a preference for balanced budgets, was willing to borrow to keep people from starving. Credit goes also to Hopkins, a one-time social worker, and the officials who worked with him. They came from business, social work, and engineering; some were Republicans. They all had the ability to get the job done. Roosevelt could have said to Hopkins, “Heck of a job, Harry,” and he would have been right about Hopkins and the whole WPA staff.

But if the New Deal was often successful, its flaws hold lessons too. Here are five of them. First, we need real federal jobs (RFJ) as a large part of our recovery program. We should use government employment for two major tasks: to offset the private sector’s thirty-year policy of shifting more jobs toward lower pay, fewer benefits, and less security; and to begin to make up for the neglect of public facilities and services. The CWA, for all its benefits, was temporary. WPA jobs were meant to be short-term; employees had to accept comparable jobs in the private sector and in 1939, the tenure of a WPA position was limited to 18 months. Also, due to budget realities and in hopes that workers would be attracted by higher-paying private sector jobs, neither the WPA nor the CWA paid very well. Employees earned about half the poverty line. The knowledge that the job was temporary and had lousy pay even undercut the morale-boosting effects of CWA and WPA jobs. Federal job programs today should include a large share of quality jobs. Job holders should have the chance for career advancement and training and receive decent benefits. They must face the possibility of being removed for incompetence, but they should have the right to unionize and, in contrast Roosevelt’s declaration for the WPA, the right to strike. Above all, they should be paid adequately, reaching fairly soon an annual income well above the family poverty line of $21,000 a year. I suggest $35,000 after a probationary period.

Second, parts of the New Deal (notably the Civilian Conservation Corps) included “green” jobs — but today we face the larger challenge of developing alternatives to fossil fuels. Some solutions to global warming may require a permanent corps of environmental workers to renovate buildings and develop solar, wind, and other clean fuels. Obama wants to battle global warming, but he has not planned a big strike force to do the jobs that cannot be done by tax breaks and regulation.

Third, for the sake of equality and prosperity, job programs must be wide in their reach and inviting to women, minorities, and low-income Americans. In thirty-five years we have not been able to push the poverty rate below the 11% level we reached in the 1970s; one way to do it is to let robust demand for workers raise average incomes. That should be paired with a substantial increase in the federal minimum wage. However, we should avoid limiting RFJs to the very poor, those who in the 1960s were called the “hardcore unemployed.” In this case a program limited to the very poor would be vulnerable to attack as a form of welfare. The WPA was fiercely attacked by conservatives, but it had a broad constituency that helped sustain it for a long time.

Fourth, job tasks need to reach beyond physical infrastructure. Not everyone can succeed in the construction field. We need, for example, to lift the care industry with higher pay, more workers, and better conditions. Whether through direct employment by government or increased subsidies, the feds can improve the quality of jobs in the care business, jobs that are bound to continue growing and providing imortant social services.

Fifth, job programs must be part of a strategy to cure the long-term unemployment that our public statistics and our national policy ignore. For years we have created too few good jobs for those who want to work. And if people had had higher incomes, fewer would have needed sub-prime mortgages.

Even if the current depression is reversed, high levels of hidden unemployment and underemployment will continue. Many who want to work are never counted. The National Jobs for All Coalition ( estimates that there are twice as many people really unemployed as the highly publicized official figures show. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that unemployment in February was 8.1% (12.5 million people looked for jobs and could not find them). But if we include those who had a part-time job but wanted full-time work and those who wanted a job but had not looked recently, we get an unemployment rate of 16.7% (26.7 million jobless). The WPA typically employed about 2 million people, one fourth of the unemployed (and even less if we include the hidden unemployed). Obama’s first stimulus package may create 2 million jobs over two years; that is less than 1/10 of the total number of truly unemployed.

We face four job challenges: first, population growth that increases the potential labor force; second, higher unemployment from this recession — already 4.4 million jobs lost in 14 months; third, one of the worst job recoveries ever from a recession (2001-2007); and fourth, the chronic unemployment of millions who are willing to work but are not counted in the official monthly unemployment number. It is up to people who want to fix the recession in a humane way and reverse the thirty-year shortage of jobs and rising levels of inequality to pressure Obama and the Democrats to do the right thing. We need a job-rich Stimulus Package II. Otherwise, in the future, we will have to depend once again on a financial or real estate or dot-com bubble to push economic growth — and suffer the accompanying low average incomes and soaring debt.

Frank Stricker

About the Author: Frank Stricker is professor of history at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Cross Posted from UNC Press Blog

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration -

Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration -

Stop the presses!! Op-ed in Forbes, the "capitalist tool," calls for public job creation.

New Geographer
Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration
Joel Kotkin, 03.24.09, 12:00 AM EDT
To really revive the economy, learn from New Deal programs that worked.

As the financial bailout fiasco worsens, President Obama may want to consider a do-over of his whole approach towards economic stimulus. Instead of lurching haphazardly in search of a "new" New Deal symphony, perhaps he should adapt parts of the original score.

Nothing makes more sense, for example, than reviving programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA), started in the 1935, as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), begun in 1933. These programs, focused on employing young people whose families were on relief, completed many important projects--many still in use today--while providing practical training to and instilling discipline in an entire generation.

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Big U.S. job loss to continue: Macroeconomic Advisers | Reuters

Big U.S. job loss to continue: Macroeconomic Advisers | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. labor market will experience severe contraction and "serious job bleeding" for at least several more months, Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said on Wednesday.

Earlier, the ADP National Employment Report, which was jointly developed by Prakken's economic research firm and ADP Employer Services, showed U.S. private employers axed a staggering 742,000 jobs in March, nearly 100,000 more than what analysts had forecast.

Prakken said in a teleconference with reporters he expected "serious (job) bleeding" to be similar to that in March for the "next several months."

In response to a question, he said the U.S. unemployment rate will rise to 9.5 percent by mid-2010, above the 8.1 percent reported for February.

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.