Friday, March 26, 2010

Robert Reich > President Obama's next big thing should be jobs

President Obama's next big thing should be jobs

The Christian Science Monitor -
Robert Reich

"...There is no great mystery about what the federal government needs to do. It must mount a frontal attack on unemployment proportional to the problem. At least another $300 billion in stimulus money is necessary. Some should go to the states and cities to restore cuts; some should be applied to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure; a portion should go to direct hiring (a new WPA).

This should be the Next Big Thing.

It won’t be easy. Most Americans don’t differentiate between temporary federal spending that’s necessary to get jobs back (which enlarges the current deficit) and permanent spending that’s built into federal programs (and creates big debt problems for the future). Many “moderate” Dems won’t even consider a second stimulus.

To accomplish it will require the President draw on his new store of political capital, mobilize his newly fired-up base, and capitalize on his renewed stature as a fighter for the people. But what’s a second honeymoon for if not for something the nation desperately needs?"

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unemployment rate for young vets hit 21.1%

Unemployment rate for young vets hit 21.1%
By Kimberly Hefling - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Mar 12, 2010 16:09:52 EST

WASHINGTON — The unemployment rate last year for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans hit 21.1 percent, the Labor Department said Friday, reflecting a tough obstacle combat veterans face as they make the transition home from war.

The number was well above the 16.6 percent jobless rate for non-veterans of the same ages, 18 to 24. As of last year, 1.9 million had deployed for the wars since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Some have struggled with mental health problems, addictions, and homelessness as they return home. Difficulty finding work can make the adjustment harder.

The just-released rate for young veterans was significantly higher than the unemployment rate of young veterans in that age group (14.1 percent) in 2008.

Many of the unemployed are members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed multiple times, said Joseph Sharpe, director of the economic division at the American Legion. Sharpe said some come home to find their jobs have been eliminated because the company has downsized. Other companies may not want to hire someone who could deploy again or will have medical appointments because of war-related health problems, he said.

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Mayors Want Jobs Program Like in New Deal -

Works Progress Administration construction workers in Pennsylvania in 1936. The Roosevelt program was one of several that employed millions during the Great Depression.

Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2010

The specter of a long period of high unemployment is reviving interest in an old idea: The Works Progress Administration, which put millions to work during the Great Depression.

The United States Conference of Mayors is citing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs as its members push for more infrastructure money to go directly to local governments. They are pointing to the legacy of programs like the WPA to bolster their case that such direct public-sector job efforts can work when mayors run them.

"A lot of the infrastructure in Schenectady was funded with WPA funds in the 1930s and you can still see the WPA stamp in the sidewalks, in the parks, in the pools," said Brian Stratton, mayor of the city in central New York state during a recent visit to Washington to lobby lawmakers. "That is what we need to come back to America's cities, that's what Schenectady needs, that's what all of our cities need."

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Dean Baker > Fed should act to promote full employment

We need a scheme for full employment
Dean Baker
Monday 22 February 2010 21.00 GMT

"Is the Fed breaking the law? That is a question that members of Congress should be asking. The Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act, which governs the Fed's operation, requires the Fed to pursue price stability and full employment, which is defined as 4% unemployment. It would be hard to maintain that current policy is consistent with these goals."

"At this point the Fed is explicitly discussing its plans for an exit strategy, moving away from its policy of quantitative easing. This means we should anticipate a general upward movement in interest rates in coming months, although the speed of this movement is not clear."

"This is troubling because the economy is expected to remain very weak by almost everyone, including the Fed itself. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the unemployment rate will average near 10% in 2010, 9% in 2009, and 8% in 2012. Unemployment is not projected to fall to 5% until 2015. If the Fed is retreating from its quantitative easing and allowing interest rates to rise, its policy will be doing little to push down the unemployment rate more quickly..."

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AP > 'Living wage' could be factor in govt contracts

The Associated Press: 'Living wage' could be factor in govt contracts
By SAM HANANEL (AP) – Feb 26, 2010

WASHINGTON — The White House is looking at a new policy that would give an advantage in bidding on government contracts to companies that offer a "living wage" and generous benefits.

But business groups opposing the idea maintain it would shut out smaller businesses from competing for more than $500 billion a year in federal contracts and increase government procurement costs.

The policy is known as "high road" contracting and could draw the Obama administration into a larger debate over whether the government should use public purse strings to strengthen the middle class and promote higher labor standards.

Advocates of the plan include unions. They say too many jobs financed by government contracts come with low wages and limited benefits and support companies that violate employment laws.

The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, estimates that nearly 20 percent of the 2 million federal contract workers in the U.S. earn less than the poverty threshold wage of $9.91 per hour. As many as 22 million workers are employed by federal contractors...

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HR 4812 - Local Jobs for America Act Introduced in House

Cross-posted from Rep. George Miller's Web Site

Local Jobs for America Act - HR 4812

By Kittredge, Betsy Miller on March 10, 2010 2:11 PM

Helping Local Communities Create A Million Public and Private Jobs

Our nation is going through one of the most difficult economic times in its history. We must do everything to help create jobs for those who are strug­gling to support their families. At the same time, the recession is forcing states and municipalities to cut jobs that are critically important – teachers, police, firefighters, childcare workers, and others.

The Local Jobs for Amer­ica Act will provide our economy a shot in the arm by putting a million people to work by restoring these services in local communities. The Local Jobs for America Act will create a million public and private jobs in local communities this year.

Support will be targeted directly to states and municipalities with the greatest number of people out of work to restore important local services. The Local Jobs for America Act will help ensure that local com­munities can still operate essential services.

Because of the recession, many local communities have cut back on education, public safety, childcare, health care, education and transporta­tion. As a result, families who rely on these services are suffering the cost of these cutbacks. This bill will help prevent state and local tax increases.

By supporting the services local communities deem most necessary, the bill will help local governments avoid having to choose between eliminat­ing services and raising taxes. Creating local jobs will stimulate local businesses and create more jobs in the local economy.

By increasing employment in local communities, families will be able to start spending again at their neighborhood businesses and favorite restaurants. This will help spur additional jobs for local small businesses. The Local Jobs for America Act will fund salaries for private sector on-the-job training to help local businesses put people back to work.

Specifically, the Local Jobs for America Act invests:

$75 billion over two years to local communities to hire vital staff
Funding for 50,000 on-the-job private-sector training positions

The bill also includes provisions already approved by the House:

$23 billion this year to help states support 250,000 education jobs
$1.18 billion to put 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat
$500 million to retain, rehire, and hire firefighters

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

18 Million Jobs by 2012

Great piece by Bob Pollin in the Nation, methodically laying out a wise roadmap for job creation and economic recovery.

18 Million Jobs by 2012:
by Robert Pollin
The Nation
March 8, 2010

"Unemployment in the United States stands officially at 9.7 percent. This represents 14.8 million people out of work. By a broader official measure that includes people employed fewer hours than they would like and those discouraged from looking for work, the unemployment rate is 16.5 percent, or about 25 million people in a total labor force of about 153 million. We have not seen comparable unemployment rates since 1983, twenty-seven years ago, and before that, not since the 1930s Depression."

"The job-creation proposals coming from the Obama administration, in the president's January 27 State of the Union address and elsewhere, generally point in the right direction, with more spending for clean energy, infrastructure and support for small businesses. These proposals follow from Obama's February 2009 economic recovery program, which injected $787 billion in new spending or tax relief into the economy over two years. However, just as last February's stimulus program was too small to counteract the evaporation of $16 trillion in household wealth resulting from the financial collapse, the scope of Obama's current proposals is nowhere near large enough for the situation today..."

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WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.