Monday, December 28, 2009

Mass Movement Needed to Raise Wages, Create Good Jobs for All

Jobs Crisis
Public Employee Press, January 2010
District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

With the unemployment rate at 10 percent, workers are growing increasingly anxious over the disappearance of secure jobs with decent wages and benefits.

“Good jobs are the central economic issue of our times,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “The high rate of unemployment is a wake-up call about the need to make the economy work better for ordinary people, not just the bankers and Wall Street elite.”

With a rebound of stock prices and modest economic growth, many mainstream economists are saying the Great Recession may be ending. But no recession is over until working people who want a job are back at work.

The jobs crisis facing our country is undeniable:

· one in five Americans is unemployed or underemployed, or has given up hope and stopped looking for work;
· only one job is available for every six Americans seeking work;
· unemployment now lasts for an average of six months, the longest since the 1930s, and
· when workers find a new job, it usually pays less than their old one.

Trade unionists, academics and religious and community activists gathered at the Interchurch Center on Riverside Drive Nov. 13 and at DC 37 Nov. 14 for a national conference on jobs. The National Jobs for All Coalition, a full-employment advocacy group, organized the conference with the support of DC 37 and other unions and organizations.

“...Change will not come about without a mass movement,” said Coalition Chair Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, who heads the Ph.D. program in Social Work at Adelphi University.

Read rest of article

To sign on to the Jobs Conference revised Call to Action -- visit National Conference to Create Living Wage Jobs

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jobs Crisis Charts

Source: Heires, Greg. Jobs Crisis, January 2010 Public Employee Press, DC 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Low-Wage Workers Make Up 31% of NYC Workforce

From the Center for an Urban Future

Low-Wage Jobs

This edition of New York by the Numbers shows that low- wage workers make up 31 percent of the city's adult workforce. The Bronx has the highest share of low-wage workers (42 percent), but Queens (with 34 percent of the adult workforce in low-wage positions) and Brooklyn (32 percent) aren't too far behind. The share of low-wage workers—as we define it, those making less than $11.54 an hour or $24,003 a year—is slightly lower in Staten Island (23 percent) and Manhattan (22 percent).

According to the analysis, the alarmingly high number of low-wage workers in the Bronx helps explain why Bronx residents and politicians recently opposed a plan for a new shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory that did not guarantee living wages to retail workers there.

Click here to read the study.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Support Gulf Coast Job Creation Bill!

Dear Friends,

December 10 is International Human Rights Day, the fifth International Human Rights Day since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. After five years, four regional disasters (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike) and a new President, the United States government still has not taken the necessary steps to ensure the human rights of the survivors of our nation’s disasters.

As we look across the Gulf Coast we still see:

  • Tens of thousands of Katrina survivors unable to realize their right to return home.
  • Families living in toxic FEMA trailers struggling to find resources to rebuild their homes.
  • Over 2 million residents of coastal Louisiana increasingly vulnerable to future disasters an internal displacement due to coastal land loss and climate change.
  • Homelessness and rental housing costs rising while affordable housing projects grind to a halt with the crash of financial markets;
  • Communities still without vital medical facilities.
  • Many more survivors who can't find work at a living wage or training to finance their families' recovery and find their way out of poverty.

But we have a chance to let the Obama Administration know that such injustices must not continue in the United States of America.

Click here to support a plan to bring human rights home.

President Barack Obama launched an effort to reconsider how our country should respond to natural and man-made disasters. The President has tasked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead a Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group. But that working group hasn't included many grassroots leaders representing low income, minority, and immigrant communities-the most vulnerable victims of the storms-in its early consultations.

A growing movement of Katrina survivors, local elected officials and community, faith-based, and human rights organizations is continuing to push the Administration and Congress to stand up for human rights and enact innovative policies to equitably restore Gulf Coast communities. But we need your help.

President Obama pledged to fix what the Bush Administration left undone after Katrina. But we need to pressure him to make good on his promise. Let’s tell the Obama Administration that we will not let another Human Rights Day pass without meaningful steps to recognize the rights of disaster survivors along America’s Gulf Coast and across the nation.

Click here to send your message to the Obama Administration.


Jeffrey Buchanan
Civic Works Campaign

PS The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project is the national effort to pass HR 4048: The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, which would create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents and evacuees to rebuild their communities.

Ask Your Congress member to co-sponsor HR 4048: The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act

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NJFAC Calls on President Obama to Invest in Direct Public Job Creation

An Open Letter to President Obama from the National Jobs for All Coalition

"Despite a multi-billion-dollar stimulus earlier this year, unemployment has continued to rise and is now double-digit. The Jobs Summit that you are convening is clear recognition of the gravity of this crisis. We write to urge that the Jobs Summit adopt a bold course of action to deal with current mass unemployment and, since unemployment and underemployment afflict millions of Americans, even in better times, to take steps toward assuring a living-wage job to all who want to work..."

"...President Obama, the American people await a big assault on unemployment from your Administration. It is not hard to predict what the midterm elections will bring if substantial reduction of unemployment does not occur by fall 2010. When you became President official unemployment was 7.6 percent; it was 10.2% in November, an increase of more than a third. The
Federal government spent $700 billion buying “troubled assets” to bail out financial institutions and nearly $800 billion to stimulate the economy. Why can’t we spend another $800 billion to give every officially unemployed worker the opportunity to work and provide billions of dollars of socially useful output?"

Read rest of letter

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Poll: Americans Want Government to Spend for Jobs, Send Bill to Rich

Americans Want Government to Spend for Jobs, Send Bill to Rich -
By Mike Dorning and Catherine Dodge

"Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Americans want their government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy or skills training for the jobless.

They also want the deficit to come down. And most are ready to hand the bill to the wealthy.

A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Dec. 3-7 shows two- thirds of Americans favor taxing the rich to reduce the deficit.

Even though almost 9 of 10 respondents also say they believe the middle class will have to make financial sacrifices to achieve that goal, only a little more than one-fourth support an increase in taxes on the middle class. Fewer still back cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare or a new national consumption tax."

"...The poll contains some of the features Obama announced in his jobs plan. Two-thirds of Americans back boosting spending on infrastructure. Six of 10 also support more spending on alternative energy to stimulate job growth, another measure Obama announced.

“The best thing we could do is take some public money to rebuild our infrastructure and improve it,” says poll respondent Richard Kellaway, 75, a Unitarian Universalist minister who lives in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Unemployed people “could be put to work in a matter of days.”

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Jobs! Jobs! A matter of national security

Jobs! Jobs! A matter of national security:

by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony
Real Times News Service

"Is anyone paying attention to the depths of despair and hopelessness that have gripped American urban communities? While our attention is on national health care, Afghanistan and Iraq, someone better be watching our back right here in our local communities."

"...[W]e know that many frustrated job seekers have dropped out of the hunt and are no longer being counted on the rolls. They are among the walking wounded and their situations are getting increasingly desperate. Now is the time for a new type of Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act. "

(Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony is president of the Detroit Branch NAACP (the nation’s largest branch) and a member of NAACP National Board of Directors

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Growing Our Way Back to Economic Health

Size Matters -- Particularly When It Comes to Jobs
Robert Borosage
Huffington Post, 12/9/09

"...[Z]ero job growth is not a victory. It takes over 125,000 new jobs a month simply to keep up with population growth. Economist Jamie Galbraith notes that to return to the levels of employment needed to generate rising incomes, we'll need 250,000 new jobs a month for five years. "

"So go big. $100 billion or more for states and localities; 100 billion for extending unemployment and food stamps for the victims, 50 billion a year for infrastructure projects, 40 billion a year to create a million public service jobs, plus opening up loans to small and medium sized businesses, plus the inevitable tax cuts and credits -- to senior, for weatherization, for small businesses -- Congress should be considering, as Paul Krugman suggests, a several hundred billion dollar program over two years."

"This will elicit screeds about deficit spending, but the president has this right. If you want to get the deficit down, the first priority is to get people working, earning money, paying taxes, and not drawing on government aid..."

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Not Such A Wonderful Life...

It's Not Such A Wonderful Life -- George Bailey Weighs In on the Financial Crisis

U.S. House Finance Committee Chair Barney Frank has announced that a package of banking reform legislation will be voted on the House floor next week, starting December 9th. BanksterUSA, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, uses the classic Frank Capra film "It's a Wonderful Life" to stress the importance of this historic debate and ask Congress:

Whose side are you on? Mr. Potter's? Or George Bailey's?

The video, called "It's NOT Such a Wonderful Life," can be viewed on or YouTube.

The video links to a letter that citizens can send to their Member of Congress listing four ways in which the banking legislation can be strengthened, including: closing loopholes for derivatives, limiting the size of "too big to fail" institutions, strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and promoting the democratization of the Federal Reserve.

Feel free to post and distribute widely as this classic Capra movie is no longer subject to copyright.

BanksterUSA is a new project of the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). CMD was founded in 1993 as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, public interest group focusing on exposing corporate spin. CMD brought you the book "Weapons of Mass Deception" before the Bush team failed to find weapons in Iraq, and we exposed "Fake News" in the media and the "Pentagon Pundits" on cable news. At BanksterUSA we debunk the spinmeisters of the powerful financial services industry with regular "Golden Throne Awards" and help ordinary Americans take positive action on the financial crisis and the real economy.
DATE: December 2, 2009
CONTACT: Mary Bottari, 608-255-4566

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Organize and Build Community Power for Direct Public Job Creation!!

Cross posted from

December 3, 2009

Dear Jobs Advocate,

Our November 13-14 National Conference to Create Living Wage Jobs, Meet Human Needs and Sustain the Environment greatly exceeded our expectations. Over 125 attendees came representing over 50 organizations.

The diversity of attendees was as impressive as their numbers. People came from Atlanta, Chicago, California and many points in between. Participating organizations spanned the broad range of constituencies we need to mobilize to achieve the conference goals of jobs for all at a living wage. The religious community, labor, community non-profits and employment policy experts all participated. The passion that the speakers, panelists and audience members expressed at the conference was contagious.

Equally striking to us was the widespread agreement on the essential components of a jobs program: that besides promoting a decent, living wage job for all who want to work, it should be long-term, address the shortfall of social investment and the lack of the human services needed to build a good society, and include a significant role for the public sector.

So, where do we go from here? We -- and attendees like you -- have lots of ideas. There have been suggestions that similar events be held in other parts of the country so that those who came to NYC can kindle the excitement about a jobs program in their own region. Others are urging development of legislative proposals as the basis of a national political campaign.

Today, December 3, President Obama is holding a jobs summit at the White House that offers an opportunity to advance the jobs agenda into the national policy debate And there is talk of a mass mobilization for jobs in D.C. sometime in late 2010 or early 2011.All of these – and more – ideas are good ones.

We are excited by the willingness of so many to stay involved on this issue. We are writing to ask if you would continue to work with us on the goal of achieving living wage jobs for all of our people. We envision an ongoing grassroots and national advocacy network, led by a Continuation Committee representing the array of groups and constituencies that were with us in NYC.

This Continuation Committee would have several functions:

Communication & Coordination -- the Continuation Committee will provide a vehicle for sharing information among us on the wide range of local and state initiatives on jobs, and provide a means to coordinate between different locales to increase the impact of actions that have been initiated in one place and that others find useful.

Organizing and Outreach – The Committee would also work to recruit additional religious, labor, community and policy organizations to form an ongoing national advocacy network that supports public job creation and social investment.

Tools Development and Resource Center -- The Continuation Committee would also lead efforts to compile resources resources and ideas that could be drawn upon by groups around the country in their work. A variety of proposals were made to carry out local "demonstration projects" to raise the visibility of the jobs crisis and engage community members. We can create and disseminate simple tools such as local unemployment report cards, resolutions for state and local legislatures, guides to organizing community hearings and "truth commissions," community jobs needs assessments, etc.

Strategy Development, Resource Mobilization, and Organizing -- Finally, and most ambitiously, the Committee could be charged with developing a political strategy around the living wage jobs for all agenda, and developing a political campaign on this issue that is strong and vibrant at the grassroots, but fully national in its scope. The committee will also need to secure funding and mobilize resources to support the proposed organizing campaign, and ensure we are able to do broad outreach to the many affected communities and groups who are concerned about jobs issues.

We have revised our Conference Call to Action to accommodate the new, ongoing organizing focus outlined above.

We therefore have four requests:

1. Will you please endorse the revised Call to Action, so we may continue to list your name/organization as a supporter of the proposed advocacy network?

2. Please indicate whether you would be willing to serve on the network’s Continuation Committee and/or Steering Group, and any particular areas you can help with, such as organizing and outreach, convening local or regional meetings or conferences, public policy analysis, and/or fundraising.

3. Please recommend 2-3 other organizations or individuals you think should be invited to endorse the Call to Action and join the network.

4. Please share any additional thoughts and ideas that you have for how we can follow up on the conference, and continue momentum toward development of a powerful social movement for economic renewal. (NOTE: if you have additional drafting suggestions or recommendations for additional points or policy recommendations to include in the Call to Action, please let us know that as well.)

In solidarity,

Bill Barclay, Chicago Political Economy Group
Chuck Bell, Conference Chair, and Vice Chair, National Jobs for All Coalition
Larry Bresler, Executive Director, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign*
Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, Riverside Church of New York, Pres., Healing of the Nations Foundation
Barbara George, Healing of the Nations Foundation
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Chair, National Jobs for All Coalition
Logan Martinez, Miami Valley Full Employment Council/Organize Ohio (Dayton, OH)
Bill Quigley, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Annie Rawlings, Associate Executive Presbyter for Social Witness, Presbytery of New York City* Elce Redmond, Organizer, South Austin Community Coalition (Chicago, IL)
Melvin Rothenberg, Chicago Political Economy Group
Rev. Marcel Welty (New York, NY)

*Organization listed for identification purposes only

Please Endorse the Call to Action by sending your name, affilliation and contact information to

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Please Endorse the Revised Call to Action, and Join Our Organizing Network!!

Cross posted from

National Network to Create Living Wage Jobs for All, Meet Human Needs & Sustain the Environment [ working name ]

CALL TO ACTION [ Updated 12/04/09]

Our country is in the throes of an economic crisis—the most severe since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployment is at the disaster level. And even before the onset of our current, deep recession, chronic unemployment, low and stagnant wages, myriad unmet needs and unprecedented environmental degradation were endemic.

Current Job Crisis

* Nearly 31 million workers fully or partially jobless (October 2009)
* Most rapid job less of any downturn -- and the highest percentage of long-term unemployed workers --since the Great Depression
* 8 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy since the onset of the recession.
* High unemployment expected to persist, even if the economy "recovers."
* Many of the long-term unemployed will lose benefits, their savings, their homes and more

Weak Stimulus

By the Administration’s own estimate, the economic stimulus package enacted in February 2009 will only make up for a fraction of the millions of jobs lost since the recession began. Nor will the stimulus stem the continuing job hemorrhage.

The health and well-being of workers and communities suffer greatly when there is inadequate availability of living wage jobs. In addition, the current official high unemployment rate of over 10% is exceedingly costly to the economy as a whole, costing $1 trillion or more annually in output of goods and services. As former Nobel Prize winner Robert Eisner has pointed out, a nation that tolerates high levels of unemployment is "literally throwing away its potential output."

The "Good Old Days"

Even before the recent economic meltdown, 5 million or more women and men were officially jobless; hidden unemployment afflicted many millions more; and poverty wages were rampant. Inequality reigned, our infrastructure was crumbling, and human services fell far short of needs. We must not go back to those "Good Old Days." Instead, we should be guided by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933): "We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people … is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure."

Real Reform

Now is the time to organize and mobilize to create a just economy.

We call for:

Establishment of a long-term, permanent federal jobs program, leading to the legal right to a living wage job.

Creation of millions of new, publicly-financed living-wage jobs in education and human services, clean energy and environmental conservation, and infrastructure development and repair.

Priority measures to target new jobs to employ structurally unemployed and underemployed workers, including people living in economically depressed communities, young people, people of color, people with disabilities, ex-offenders, and immigrants, among others.

Guaranteed income support for those who are unemployed, unable to work, and/or doing vital work in the home (including extension of unemployment benefits, an end to TANF time limits, and support for single adults living without adequate income)

Continuation and expansion of federal assistance to ailing state governments, to preserve essential services and prevent further job loss in local communities.

Comprehensive protection of workers’ labor and social rights, including the right to organize, form trade unions and bargain collectively; the right to equal opportunity, with vigorous enforcement of laws and regulations relating to unfair discrimination in hiring and employment against women, people of color and other minorities; worker safety and health; rights to paid sick leave and vacations; and decent working conditions and quality of work life, including autonomy on the job.

Development of industrial and trade policies to promote comprehensive recovery of the manufacturing and services sectors, and other, complementary policies to promote full employment, community economic stability, environmental sustainability, and a fair global economic system.

Fair financing for economic renewal through 1) discontinuing or not renewing the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers; 2) reducing military spending to genuine defense needs, and redirecting the savings to the civilian economy 3) enacting a financial speculation tax on short-term securities transactions; and 4) recapturing federal revenue as more Americans return to work and pay taxes, and the devastating financial and social costs of unemployment are avoided.

Comprehensive measures to ensure public accountability and transparency for the jobs program and public investments, including 1) racial, gender, geographic and social equity in program spending and results and 2) establishment of a national employment accounting office to measure the impact and benefits.

To achieve these goals, we will work together to

1. Document unmet public needs for jobs, infrastructure and public services
2. Inform and educate our communities about those needs, and how can they be addressed through our proposed program
3. Organize a strong, vibrant social movement to inspire grassroots action and arouse the conscience of the public
4. Encourage policy organizations to support this program, and related initiatives to expand availability of living wage jobs, and protect worker rights
5. Develop an effective national advocacy network by reaching out to a wide range of labor, religious, nonprofit and community organizations, and building coalitions and alliances
6. Mobilize regional and national demonstrations in support of this program
7. Design and advocate comprehensive federal legislation to achieve the right to employment at living wages, and develop alliances with members of Congress and other public officials who will support these measures
8. Provide ongoing public oversight of the development and implementation of our proposed program

YES!! I/we endorse the Call to Action and Join the Network to Create Living-Wage Jobs for All, Meet Human Needs, & Sustain the Environment

____ Individual Endorsement

___ List organization for affiliation only
___ Do not list organization

____ Organizational Endorsement


Organizational Affiliation:_______________________________





Web Site:_________________________________________

_____ YES, I would be willing to serve on the Continuation Committee

_____ YES, I would be willing to serve on the Continuation’s Committee’s Steering Group

_____ YES, I would be willing to serve on a committee or workgroup on:


______Please send the Call to Action to the following individuals/organizations:

[ list organizations and contact information ]

Please return to:

Conference Organizing Committee
c/o National Jobs for All Coalition / CIPA
777 United Nations Plaza, Suite 3C
New York, NY 10017

Phone: 212-972-9879
Fax: 212-972-9878


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"American Jobs Plan" released by the Economic Policy Institute

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank that works to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers, recently proposed a five-pronged jobs plan to address the unemployment crisis.

The fourth component of the plan is of particular interest for direct job creation advocates, although it is much smaller than many of us would like to see. The plan would create 1 million public service jobs, with funding of $40 billion over 3 years allocated to states through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

The other components of the plan include extending unemployment and COBRA benefits, more fiscal relief for state and local governments, increased federal investment in school construction and transportation, and a tax credit for private employer job creation.

American Jobs Plan:

"The United States is experiencing its worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression. Nearly 16 million Americans—our family, friends, and neighbors—are out of work. This national crisis demands a bold plan to put people back to work. The Economic Policy Institute proposes the American Jobs Plan, a plan that would create at least 4.6 million jobs in one year.

Here you will find EPI's comprehensive research and analysis of the jobs crisis—how severe it has grown and why—and the details of EPI's American Jobs Plan.

We can—and must—put America back to work."

Read the plan

Download entire plan (PDF)

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17.5% Unemployment Rate for People with Disabilities

Job Crunch Even Harder On People With Disabilities
by Joseph Shapiro, NPR

"As large numbers of Americans deal with losing jobs, the unemployment rates are even higher among certain groups, including men, minorities — and also people with disabilities."

"Lenny Kepil knows. He was laid off from his job this spring as a software test engineer. He'd been the last hired, but his whole department took a hit. 'It makes you nervous when you're laid off a long period of time. And right now, it's been seven months so far,' he says. 'So I have to get ready for the reality that things are stacking up against me.'"

"...In October, when the national unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent, the numbers were much grimmer for working-age people with disabilities.

"It's quite dramatic," says economist Andrew Houtenville, of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. "You're talking about an unemployment rate for people with disabilities of around 17-and-a-half percent." "

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Friday, November 20, 2009

11/13-14 Jobs Conference Presentations

Much thanks and gratitude to all who attended, endorsed and supported the November 13-14 National Conference to Create Living Wage Jobs, Meet Human Needs and Sustain the Environment. We hope to post more materials from the conference program very soon, along with photos and video.

In the meantime, here are copies of speeches and presentations from some of the conference speakers that we've collected so far.

Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Our Practical Dream (Opening remarks)

Robert Pollin, The Economic Logic and Moral Imperative of Full Employment

Bill Barclay, A Permanent Jobs Program for the U.S.: Economic Restructuring to Meet Human Needs

Chloe Tribich, Green Jobs New York

Bill Quigley, Human Rights and Living Wage Jobs

Mel Rothenberg, Presentation on Political Strategy

Philip Harvey, Learning from the New Deal (Powerpoint)

Philip Harvey, Learning from the New Deal (Draft Paper)

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More Federal Help Needed for Stressed State Governments

From AFL-CIO Now Blog

"...[S]tates face a two-year $357 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal years 2010 and 2011, while local governments face an additional $80 billion deficit. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided much-needed relief, but its $106 billion in aid to states fills only about 25 percent of the shortfall. The rest of the budget must be balanced by spending cuts and tax increases. Click here to read the report, “Dire States: State and Local Budget Relief Needed to Prevent Job Losses and Ensure a Robust Recovery.”

"State and local spending cuts can be particularly harmful to the economy, Palmer and Pollack said. Not only do they deprive citizens of needed public services like health care, transportation, education and safety, they also fall disproportionately on the backs of those with low incomes. Businesses’ sales fall, forcing firms to slash wages or lay off workers, and these workers then cut their own consumer spending. As a result, each dollar of spending reduction by state and local governments leads to $1.41 in lost economic activity."

"Without additional state and local budget relief, current and future shortfalls will cause millions of job losses and likely contribute to a drawn-out and painful recovery."

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Seattle Eyes Public Broadband Network

From Reclaim the Media blog

"Community activist Mike McGinn rode a wave of grassroots organizing energy to victory in Seattle's Mayoral race this month. One group of people who have reason to celebrate McGinn's election is locals lacking affordable options for speedy broadband service, including residents of Beacon Hill, and parts of the Central District and South Seattle. McGinn's vision for affordable city-wide broadband was not only a core concern for his campaign, but one of his clearest disagreements with challenger Joe Mallahan."

"From early on, McGinn's campaign platform included a proposal to provide affordable, next generation broadband to neighborhoods across Seattle. He came to specifically endorse the concept of a city-owned fiber broadband network, filling gaps in neighborhoods where there are few or no options for affordable service. Smaller cities like Lafayette, Louisiana and Wilson, North Carolina have already made the decision that broadband ought to be treated like a public utility."

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Create Good Jobs Now:

A bold proposal for meeting human needs through a permanent U.S. employment program.

Sidney Hollander, Ron Baiman, Bill Barclay, Joe Persky, Elce Redmond, Mel Rothenberg. The authors are members of the Chicago Political Economy Group November 9, 2009 In These Times (Web only)

For the last three decades, U.S. public policy makers have operated on the theory that individual entrepreneurial freedoms are essential to the creation of wealth and thus to the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. One of the great failures this "neo-liberal" approach to economics has been its inability to create enough jobs to keep pace with population growth.

Between 2001 and 2007, the working-age population in the United States outpaced job creation by 10 million individuals. Projections indicate that the shortfall will include another 17 million persons by 2016, making a 16-year total of 27 million missing jobs -- 27 million people, in other words, who will have been pushed out of the labor force.

If current trends continue after 2016, labor force participation will have fallen to barely half the working-age population, down from a pre-2000 level of about two-thirds.

The scale of the problem--and program

To confront the growing poverty and social misery that is engulfing the poorest 40 percent of Americans, the United States will require a national jobs program based on significant public investment in the economy. We propose a program that would pay workers the current median wage ($18 per hour), which is a living wage that still allows room for promotions and pay raises. As we will demonstrate, this program can be funded easily by progressive taxes, cuts in defense spending, and taxes on carbon-emitting production.

In the short term, jobs will help people stay in their homes and encourage consumers to begin spending again. In the longer run, a reordering of our economic priorities through public investment and redistribution of access to good jobs will create an economy that serves the needs of all, rather than the wants of a few.

The plan should aim to boost national employment by 3.5 million new jobs each year for five years, for a total of 17.5 million new jobs. This rate of job creation is more than twice the currently projected growth of only 1.5 million jobs per year, which would yield only 7.5 million additional jobs over the five years.
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Obama Should Declare a Jobs Emergency--F. Stricker

Here is what President Obama should say to the American people about rising unemployment:

My fellow Americans,

The employment situation is continuing to deteriorate and there is no evidence that the private sector can turn things around. We face a tremendous challenge. Our job total has fallen by eight million since the recession began. And we failed to add the three million jobs we need to keep about with a growing labor force. So we are now 11 million jobs below normal.

We cannot fix this problem in a week or even a year. But the longer we wait, the more pain for our people and more difficult the task. Remember that we also have to add more than a million new jobs every year for an expanding work force.

If we are aiming to get back to get back to the time before this recession, we can do it in six years if we add three million jobs a year. Can we do that? During the recovery from the 2001 recession we were adding only 1.3 million a year. During the Clinton job boom we increased our job totals by 2.3 millionBthat was very good but not good enough.

Our Republican friends prefer that we do nothing, even as the misery mounts. That is Hooverism and we know better. Businesses are not adding to our job totals and won=t add much for a while. It is just too easy for employers to send jobs abroad or buy more machines.

So we can have high unemployment for years to come, or government can act. History shows us that we can reverse the job decline. Franklin Roosevelt and his New Dealers showed that the federal government could create job programs and promote a general economic recovery.

This administration has made mistakes. We underestimated the severity of this recession. But we did not make the mistake of doing nothing; and while there is debate about our efforts to save the financial system and our stimulus and recovery package, we are convinced that without these programs tens of millions of Americans would now be living in Hoovervilles.

But these rich programs were not enough to jump-start job creation. So I propose now a federal Jobs and National Enrichment program that creates real work in a variety of programs and areas. Some of the new jobs will be in the federal government, some in local and state government, some in private businesses and non-profits. Many will be permanent positions, with wages substantially above the poverty line.

There is much that needs doing. We will expand and upgrade Head Start and the care industry. We will create a Neighbor Preservation Corps that acquires, cleans up, and sells foreclosed homes. We will create a Civilian Conservation Corps whose members plant trees, repair parks, and build new ones for communities that have too few of them. There are dozen of other tasks that need to be done and over the next few weeks we will be taking your suggestions about things that need doing.

Some will say that we cannot afford a new federal program, but I say that we cannot afford to waste the labor and skills of twenty million Americans. And our investment in jobs will come back to us hundredfold. We will have a better landscape, smoother roads, smarter kids, and more comfortable elders. And we will have millions of people able to spend freely; that will create millions of jobs in the private sector.

We can do this for a relatively small sum. We are spending $800 million to rescue the money barons and almost $800 million for the first stimulus package. I propose that we spend $200 billion, in each of the next six years, on directly creating good and useful jobs.If we do it right, we can fund three million jobs, with decent pay and benefits, and giving our workers the tools, machinery, and materials they need to perform well.

Some programs can start soon; some will take more time. We are learning from our experience with the current stimulus package. And we will learn from the CCC and the WPA in the 1930s. I have faith in the talents and good will of our people and our government officials. We can meet this challenge together.

Frank Stricker, Emeritus Prof. of History at CSU-Dominguez Hills, author of Why America Lost the War on Poverty and How to Win It and member of the Exec. Com, National Jobs for All Coalition

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Job Estimates to Get Back to Nov. 2007 Unemployment

Do We Need a Federal Jobs Program?
Frank Stricker

How much do we need to increase total American jobs in 2010-2015 just to get back to the November of 2007 employment level?

1. Decline in Total Jobs in 2008-2009

8 million

2. Jobs not added in 2008-2009 to accommodate labor force growth of 1.5 million a year:

3 million

3. Jobs needed in 2010-2015 for labor force growth of 1.3 million a year:

7.8 million


4. 18.8 million, or 3.1 million per year additional jobs needed to get us back to November of 2007 (5% official unemployment) by December, 2015

How have we done recently without much direct government job creation?

5. Annual job increase during strong Clinton boom (1993-2001):

2.3 million

6. Annual job increase during weak Bush boom (2001-2007):

1.3 million

A Clinton job boom would leave us 5 million jobs short of 2007 rates. A Bush recovery would fall 11 million jobs short. Without federal action, we probably will not even match the Bush record. Economists predict that unemployment will rise for another year


1. BLS numbers (CPS/Household) on total jobs, from November 2007 through September of 2009. Result is a decline of 7.8 million. After we count October, November, and December, the total will surpass 8 million.

2. “Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population, 1940 to date,” BLS.Gov, accessed on October 27, 2009. I subtracted the average labor force total for 2000 from the average for 2007 and divided by 7. The result was an average labor force growth of 1.5 million.

3. James W. Hughes and Joseph J. Seneca, “America’s New Post-Recession Employment Arithmetic,” Advance & Rutgers Report, September 2009, p. 3 and Figure 3.

5. and 6. BLS numbers (CPS/Household). Annual average job growth for Clinton over January 1993-December, 2000; for Bush, January 2001-November 2007.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Earning a Living Without Losing Your Life

A Decent Job Allows You to Earn a Living Without Losing Your Life

What's a decent job? posed that question to participants in a Paris demonstration last Wednesday that took place near the headquarters of the Medef - the French employers' association. Philippe Brochen, Libération, 07 October 2009

Between 3,000 and 6,000 people assembled last Wednesday afternoon near the Medef headquarters on Avenue Bosquet in Paris (VIIe) in the framework of the International and Interprofessional Day for the Defense of "Decent Work." It provided an opportunity to ask these demonstrators what, in their view, that demand corresponds to.

Elisabeth, 49 years old, France Télécom employee

"A decent job is a reasonable job, that is, one without unacceptable pressure, with standard hours, 35 or 38 hours a week ...."

André, 79 years old, a retiree from the SNCF [railroad]

"A decent job is one that allows you to earn your living respectably, without losing or destroying your life."

Louisa, 18 years old, high school student

"A decent job is one that pays a living wage. That's what's essential first of all, but it should also allow for personal fulfillment and development. .... It's also a job that's not precarious and where one is not in danger of being fired from one day to the next. It's a job with a reasonable schedule, reasonable, that is, with respect to one's personal, and especially, one's family situation. Individuals must not be taken for machines ..."

Marise, 56 years old, a hospital official

"A decent job means that one has the resources to do a good job, to be available for others and to earn a respectable living. At present, a nurse just starting out earns 1.400 euros net per month. Do you find that right, given the hours and responsibilities involved?"
Bernard, 65 years old, banking company retiree

"A decent job is one that contributes to personal development and the construction of a better world."

Catherine, 33 years old, a City of Paris agent for local development

"A decent job earns minimally 1,600 euros net. It's also a secure job that offers the potential for further training, and for taking initiative as well as the means to defend oneself when pressure is exerted."

Saïdou, 30 years old, a plumber and native of Mali who arrived in France when he was 21 years old, who holds a residence permit

"I have a decent job. I progress from one day to the next. I learn. I'm well paid. My plan is to gain enough experience and financial support to start my own business. I just have to be patient ..."

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Friday, October 9, 2009

EPI Survey Finds Broad Support for Federal Jobs Program

From October 8 - Economic Policy Institute (EPI) News - see links to papers and audio from September 30 conference in Washington DC. Thanks to Frank Stricker for bringing to our attention.

A groundswell of support for federal action on jobs creation

The Labor Department earlier this month reported an official unemployment rate for September of 9.8%, suggesting that about one in 10 American workers is out of work. But even that figure, the highest unemployment rate in a generation, masks the extent to which joblessness has devastated American families.

An analysis of the latest jobs data by EPI economist Heidi Shierholz found that September marked the 21st consecutive month of job loss, making this the longest losing streak in 70 years, and costing the country 7.2 million jobs so far. Considering the additional jobs needed to keep up with population growth, the country now needs 9.9 million jobs to return to a pre-recession level of employment.

Recession is personal for one in four Americans

On September 30, EPI released a new survey showing that almost one in four families have suffered a job loss over the past year, and 44% have suffered either the loss of a job or a reduction in wages.

The survey, Tracking the Recovery: Voters' Views on the Recession, Jobs, and the Deficit, was conducted for EPI by Hart Research Associates, which polled 802 registered voters in mid-September. Asked to name the most important economic problem facing the country, 53% of those surveyed listed unemployment and a lack of jobs, compared with 27% who cited the federal budget deficit. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed-81%-said the Obama administration has still not done enough to deal with the unemployment crisis. Some 87% of voters said they support a major job creation credit for U.S. businesses and 71% support putting unemployed people to work at government-funded public service jobs.

Making new jobs creation a priority

Also on September 30, EPI hosted Generating a Robust Recovery, where a panel of economists and lawmakers elaborated on the need to do more to create jobs and strengthen the social safety net. In a keynote address, Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Congresswoman from Connecticut, said the widespread job loss and mounting poverty levels had left the country at risk of having "a lost generation of American children."

Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the Tracking the Recovery survey, also pointed to a disconnect between Washington, where many policy makers continue to see deficit reduction as the top economic priority, and ordinary people throughout the country, who want more jobs. Considering the staggering level of job loss, Garin said he found it "inconceivable" that lawmakers would make fixing the budget deficit a priority "without first getting people back to work."

Krugman makes the case for more public investment

Other speakers at EPI's conference offered some perspective on the federal deficit, in the context of the need for more public investment from the federal government. "The idea that there is a tradeoff between doing more today and having more later is not true," said Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist.

Krugman argued that investments made today to help create jobs and strengthen the social safety net would be good for the economy both now and in the future. Although he said that the $787 billion Recovery Act passed earlier this year had succeeded in creating new jobs and preventing the loss of others, Krugman stressed that the stimulus package was not large enough to deal with such a steep downturn.

While the $787 billion of stimulus spending may have seemed like a massive amount when the Recovery Act was passed earlier this year, many economists, including Krugman, believe it was insufficient. "We did somewhere between a third and a fifth of what we needed to do," said J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, who also spoke on the panel at EPI. That estimate was consistent with other findings in the Tracking the Recovery survey. While most of those surveyed seemed to appreciate that the Recovery Act had provided some needed assistance, two-thirds of those surveyed said that it had helped a little, rather than a lot.

The panel, which was moderated by Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein, also featured EPI Research and Policy Director John Irons, who offered more insight on the cost of doing nothing. Irons' latest paper, Economic Scarring, outlines some of the long-term consequences of even short-lived recessions, including increased poverty and reduced educational attainment, private investment, and entrepreneurial activity.

Generating a Robust Recovery [event]
By John Irons September 30, 2009

Officially, the Great Recession may be coming to an end, but it will leave in its wake historically high unemployment and a host of other serious economic problems. How will policy-makers promote a robust, employment-led recovery that will lay the foundation for strong, long-term growth? Meeting this challenge requires both the will to continue investing in families hard hit by the recession despite growing budget deficits and the skill in crafting the right mix of policies to ensure that this recovery -- unlike the last one -- will bring significant numbers of new jobs and rising living standards along with it.

On September 30, 2009, the Economic Policy Institute hosted a discussion of these issues with noted experts in this exciting forum.

Keynote speakers:

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Congresswoman, 3rd District of Connecticut
Geoffrey Garin, President, Hart Reasearch Associates


J. Bradford DeLong, Professor, UC Berkeley; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
John Irons, Research and Policy Director, Economic Policy Institute
Paul Krugman, Columnist, New York Times; Professor, Princeton University and Nobel Laureate

Steven Pearlstein, Business Columnist, The Washington Post

Review materials from this event:
*Video from this event will be posted soon

Listen to an audio recording of this event: [listen/streaming] [download MP3]

View slideshows from presenters:
John Irons
J. Bradford DeLong
Geoffrey Garin

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Economic Bill of Rights

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1/11/44 message to Congress is featured in rare video footage shown in Capitalism: A Love Story, the new documentary film by Michael Moore. The attached YouTube video contains the audio from the speech, but somehow Moore got the original video to include in his film.

Franklin D. Roosevelt -“The Economic Bill of Rights”
Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Unio

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

source: The Public Papers & Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Samuel Rosenman, ed.), Vol XIII (NY: Harper, 1950), 40-42, cited at

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

The truth about jobs that no one wants to tell

The truth about jobs that no one wants to tell

If the feds don't spend money to put people back to work, the economy won't recover and politics will get uglier

By Robert Reich
Salon, Oct. 2, 2009

"...Let me say this as clearly and forcefully as I can: The federal government should be spending even more than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need. It should make up for cutbacks at the state level, and then some. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA."

"Yes, I know. Our government is already deep in debt. But let me tell you something: When one out of six Americans is unemployed or underemployed, this is no time to worry about the debt..."

Read rest of article

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Film about Federal Writers Project of the WPA

Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story,” a documentary about the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) premiered on the Smithsonian Channel on September 6.

As literary and arts organizations struggle for survival around the US, and 15 million workers are unemployed, this is a great time to consider whether new artistic and cultural programs such as the Federal Writers Project could be established, reinvigorated and expanded to create jobs and enrich lives around the U.S.

From the Smithsonian Channel web site:

"The Federal Writers Project was one of four arts programs under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Project employed thousands of unemployed writers, including Richard Wright, Saul Bellow and John Cheever, to fan out across America, interview its citizens, and produce a portrait of the USA from the ground up in a series of state travel guides. They captured a unique portrait of 1930’s Americana."

"But what began as a program to create guidebooks for every state ended up igniting a storm of controversy when writers sought out not only the triumphs of America, but also its tragedies. At its peak, the Project employed over 6,600 people in all 48 states. They included a handful of published authors, old newspaper reporters, former school teachers and others. Two of its better-known workers, Studs Terkel (in one of his last interviews before passing away in October 2008) and Stetson Kennedy, are interviewed for the documentary. In addition to Kennedy and Terkel, the documentary features interviews with a diverse group of leading authors, poets, and historians, including Douglas Brinkley and David Bradley, who provide witty and heartbreaking insights into the Project. "

More info from Smithsonian Channel web site. Local events relating to the film and the Federal Writers Project are planned at libraries and other places around the US.

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Workers of the World, Relax!

Here's an interesting video from the Work Less Party of British Columbia which is promoting a 32 hour work week.

Key Slogans: "Workers of the World Relax," and "Alarm Clocks Kill Dreams,"

"It ...seems that the ecologically necessary is politically unfeasible, but the politically feasible is ecologically irrelevant." - Prof. Bill Rees, University of British Columbia

See more segments of the film at Workers of the World Relax

Re: shortened work hours, see also Kellogg's Six Hour Day, by Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Remembering the New Deal; Response to Shared Prosperity

A reminiscence of the New Deal and a response to Shared Prosperity and the Drive for Decent Work, Garth Mangum, Max McGraw Professor Emeritus of Economics and Management, University of Utah, 6 September 2009

Let me begin with some personal reminiscence. I began life on a sharecrop farm. We farmed 40 acres and kept half the output of hay and grain, delivering the other half to the landowner. We did not feel abused, given that it was his land. We fed our half of the hay to our animals, some of which were milk cows. We separated the milk, selling the cream and giving the skim to the pigs and we kids, of whom I was the oldest. That approximately $200 a year was our only cash income. Some of the grain fed chickens who delivered us eggs. The rest went to the four mill, some of which paid for the flour and cereal we got in return. We had plenty to eat but little cash.

Then came what others called the Great Depression but was a great boon to us. In 1933, from the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) we got clothing, blankets, etc., and from the Civil Works Agency (CWA) Dad got employment for him and his team of horses, rebuilding public roads. There being no reclamation yet in much of the irrigated west, drought overcame us. We left the sharecrop farm in 1934, buying 2 ½ acres 125 miles away for $150, $50 down from selling farm animals (shot and burned in the barnyard with payment from the new Agricultural Adjustment Act ) and farm equipment and the rest finally paid off, after continuing annual payments, with the beginning of World War II. We built a basement home with a ground level roof with an upstairs to be added in subsequent years and went to work for surrounding farmers, $2 a day for Dad and piece rates for Mom and we kids on fruit and berry farms, and planted our own 2 ½ acres for production in future years. Then in 1935 came for Dad the Public Works Administration (PWA) followed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), 11 days a month at $4 a day, digging sewers, building roads, painting public buildings and so forth, with the rest of the month working for surrounding farmers at a continued $2 a day. Indoor plumbing would await World War II also, but we soon had a “Roosevelt Monument,” a WPA-built permanently located and chemically-cleaned outdoor toilet costing $10 and replacing the homebuilt and frequently-moved two-holer of our own construction.

As I grew older, I obtained a bicycled17 mile paper route making $15 a month, continuing farm work during the days in season and sweeping the floors after school for, as I remember, $7 a month from the National Youth Administration (NYA). We had no one in our immediate family of age for the Civil Conservation Corps, though I would years later marry the younger sister of a CCC veteran. After Pearl Harbor, Dad left for carpenter work in Nevada and then returned for further such projects in Utah. I spent the summer of 1942 on some of the final WPA projects in our area, concreting irrigation ditches with older WPA workers shoveling the sand, gravel and cement into the concrete mixers and we young guys paid by the irrigation company pushing the wheelbarrows. My senior high school year, 1942-43, I spent half-day at a former CCC facility learning to be an airplane mechanic, half-day back at the high school learning mathematics and aeronautics, followed by a doubled-sized and double-distanced but automobiled newspaper route. That was followed by employment in 1943 as an airplane mechanic’s helper at an Army Air Force base and subsequent volunteered service in the Army Air Force for the remainder of the Second World War.

I spent a few years trucking and coal mining after the war until I wised up and at 27 became a college freshman, building houses for a living during my undergraduate years. A question at the time was “How do you get to Washington?” and the answer was “You go to Harvard and turn left.” Which I did and packed a Ph.D. in Economics off to serve in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

That story may explain my subsequent continuing advocacy of public service employment as recommendations from National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress (of which I was Executive Secretary) in 1965 and as an actuality within the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973 (much of which I had written some years earlier).

From all this, I suspect I am somewhat of a radical on the Jobs For All topic. For instance, I would limit unemployment compensation to those who can reasonably expect recall or re-employment with their existing skills within a few weeks. Otherwise, I would provide public service employment at a living wage or a combination of part-time employment and part-time retraining for them until they can return to or move on to jobs of their choice. I would forget the minimum wage but guarantee public service employment at a living wage which employers would have to equal or surpass to attract employees. I am a general supporter of the employability development thrust of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) but I would add public service employment as a replacement for public assistance for those unable to obtain other employment after training.

I advocate the universal availability of but not requirement for pre-school education followed by K-14 public education, the latter-years making maximum possible use of competency-based education, to assure that all youth are prepared for family-sustaining earnings. I would keep the school doors open at taxpayer expense for a second chance for all for employability development for family-sustaining earnings. Taxing their subsequent higher earnings will repay the public investment.

I would delay Social Security retirement immediately to age 70 and then move it forward at approximately 15 years earlier than the average age at death, using Social Security Disability for those unable to work that long for health reasons. And during those years I would encourage community service. I do not view idleness as a great accomplishment or reward.
As a labor arbitrator for many years, I would encourage unionization of employees who desire it but would expect employers to refuse what they consider to be unreasonable demands. Strikes are a reasonable pressure approach from both sides for reaching agreement.

I would exercise comparative advantage to give workers throughout the world opportunities for employment favorable to them while we work at tasks at which we have comparative advantage. I would stop being the world’s policeman but participate in and support United Nations efforts to fill that role.

I would urge government to limit budget deficits to public investments with multi-year returns and to recession-proofing with subsequent repayment within the business cycle. I am also a strong believer in progressive taxation with conviction that we of higher than average incomes (not much higher in my case) know how to get our due rewards.

In general, I agree with the provisions of Shared Prosperity and the Drive for Decent work and wish all participants the best in the 13-14 November 2009 conference.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

U.S. Gets Ds on Infrastructure Report Card

U.S. Gets Ds on Infrastructure Report Card - CBS Evening News - CBS News:

"(CBS) The current financial crisis in the United States is making a bad problem even worse - namely, the sorry state of highways and other core infrastructure components. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports on this problem in Los Angeles - and how it echoes around the country.

The cab of a fire engine was almost totally devoured by a 15-foot sinkhole in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley Tuesday - the result of a broken water main. It came just three days after an even bigger break down the road washed away cars and flooded residents and businesses for blocks.

With aging infrastructure failing so spectacularly, the mayor of L.A. says the city is playing catch up when it comes to repair.

'Some of these pipes are more than 100 years old,' said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Failing infrastructure is not just an L.A. problem. Further north, workers scrambled to reopen the 73-year old Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland after finding a crack in a steel beam. The bridge was severely damaged and refurbished after the 1989 earthquake.

But it's not just earthquake-prone California that's falling apart. And it's not just bridges and water mains, but also airports, dams, roadways, sewers and more.

In their annual report card, the nation's civil engineers give the whole country poor grades for infrastructure.

'It'd be nifty if we could get all our grades in the country up to a C or even up to a B,' said Mike Kincaid of the American Society of Civil Engineers. 'And I think we have a lot of work to do before we get to that point.'

Read rest of article -- see video
See ACSE Report Card

Remember the Minneapolis bridge collapse two years ago? Today, more than 150,000 bridge"

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Unemployment climbs again in August, 216,000 net jobs lost


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 9.6 million, and the jobless rate was 6.2 percent. [BLS]

White 8.9%
African American 15.1%
Hispanic 13.0%
Asian** 7.5%

Men 20 years and over 10.1%
Women 20 years and over 7.6%
Teen-agers (16-19 years) 25.5%
Black teens 34.7%
Officially unemployed 14.9 million


Working part-time because can't find a full-time job:
9.1 million

People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.3 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)
5.6 million

Total: 29.6 million (18.5% of the labor force)


*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures.
**Not seasonally adjusted.

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 June, 2009, the latest month available, the number of job openings was only 2.6 million, according to the BLS, Job Openings andLabor Turnover Estimates, August 12, 2009.+ Thus there are more than 11 job-wanters for each available job.[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Mass layoffs: "Employers initiated 2,994 mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 534,881 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both the numbers of extended mass layoff events and associated separations were record highs for a second quarter (with data availableback to 1995).

Read rest of article

Analysis: "The slower rate of job loss is the result of further moderation in the pace of job loss in the sectors that have been the biggest job losers. Construction lost 65,000 jobs in August, down from 119,000 per month between October and March. Most of this job loss is now coming from the non-residential sector. This is not surprising since residential construction has stabilized in the last couple of months, while a glut in the non-residential market is leading to a sharp contraction in this sector. Stimulus-related jobs will be an offsetting factor..... This report, like the prior three reports, shows a slowing pace of job loss. It is important to recognize that this rate of job loss, especially when adding in the upward revisions, would be considered disastrous at any other time. The labor market is still deteriorating, albeit less rapidly." Baker, CEPR, 9/4/09

"The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is providing a significant boost to the labor market. Over the last three months, the labor market has shed an average of 318,000 jobs per month. By comparison, in the first quarter of this year, the labor market shed an average of nearly 700,000 jobs per month. The ARRA is likely saving or creating between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs a month, for a total of around 1.2 million saved or created since its implementation. ...To keep up with population growth, the economy needs to add approximately 127,000 jobs every month, which translates into 2.5 million jobs over the 20 months of the recession. This means the labor market is currently 9.4 million jobs below where it would need to be to maintain a pre-recession unemployment rate. " Jobs Picture, Shierholz, EPI, 9/4/09

"Focusing on the long-term unemployed is urgent because the challenges of those out of work remain significant—more so than in any prior recession. Once workers lose their job, it continues to be extremely difficult to get back into the workforce. The typical worker is now spending 15.4 weeks unemployed, which means that one-half of workers are finding a job in less time, but one-half are taking longer—often much longer—to find a new job." CAP Boushey, 9/4/09

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Does the U.S. Economy Need a Job-Creation Stimulus? - TIME

Does the U.S. Economy Need a Job-Creation Stimulus? - TIME
By Kevin O'Leary / Los Angeles Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009

"When people say there are no jobs out there, it's true. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the start of the recession in December 2007, the ratio of job seekers to job openings was 1.5 to 1. Now six unemployed workers chase every available job. It's a brutal game of musical chairs in which a great many people lose and spiral downward economically with disastrous consequences, not only for themselves and their families, but also for communities that were once productive and prosperous."

Read rest of article

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Schools must lead healthy foods effort

Here's a smart, inspired idea to create some jobs through a National Culinary Corps to improve school meals for kids.

However, we have a friendly amendment. If the National Culinary Corps is established, workers should get real Living Wage pay, and not Americorps stipend wages. Better to cook on your feet, then beg on your knees.

We also applaud the loan forgiveness idea, as many students have been enticed to pay top dollar for culinary schools and colleges, only to be bitterly disappointed with low wages and crappy working conditions. That would not fly in a fair economy.

From the San Francisco Chronicle

Schools must lead healthy foods effort
By Ann Cooper,Beth Collins
Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that of the children born in the year 2000, 1 out of 3 Caucasians and 2 out of 3 African Americans and Hispanics will contract diabetes in their lifetimes. As a result, that generation will be the first in our country's history to die at a younger age than their parents. Time magazine reported recently that as a nation we are spending more than $147 billion a year on diet-related illness, much of it attributable to diabetes and much of that preventable."

"Together these facts are the health care crisis of our lifetime."

"As a nation we have in large part stopped cooking in our homes, and this is no different in our schools. Over the decades that we've been reheating as opposed to cooking, we've lost much of our culinary skills, which means that we need to teach our school food-service workers to cook again."

"Switching from chicken nuggets and Tater Tots to roast chicken and roast potatoes means that we need culinary 'boot camps' to train our cooks and perhaps a National Culinary Corps, based on AmeriCorps, where culinary students can work off their student loans by cooking in schools."

Ann Cooper and Beth Collins are partners in the Food Family Farming Foundation and creators of the Lunch Box Project. Contact them at and Contact us at

Read rest of article

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Gulf Coast Civic Works Act Would Bring 100,000 Jobs to Gulf Coast

Jeffrey Buchanan: Four Years Later, Let's End the Human Rights Crisis in KatrinaRitaVille:
RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights
Posted: August 28, 2009 04:53 PM
Huffington Post

"...Looking to build on local successes and tackle recovery issues, diverse grassroots leaders from across the [Gulf Coast] region working with students, policy experts, and a bipartisan group of legislators including Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Rodney Alexander, Joseph Cao, Charlie Melancon, Gene Taylor and Bennie Thompson developed the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act."

"This legislation would create 100,000 green job and training opportunities for residents and displaced survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to rebuild and sustain their communities. The federal government would partner directly with local officials and non-profits to address remaining challenges like infrastructure, affordable housing and flood protection. It would focus on building resilience to climate change, mitigating the effects of future deadly storms and confronting poverty."

"This plan is supported by 250 community, faith, environmental and human rights organizations along the Gulf Coast and across the nation like the NAACP, ACLU, National Council of Churches, Jewish Council on Public Affairs, NETWORK, Global Green, 1SKY, the Equity & Inclusion Campaign, Oxfam American and Amnesty International USA..."

"Over 30 members of the U.S. House are now urging their colleagues on Capitol Hill and at the White House to remember the people of the Gulf Coast and our duty as Americans to ensure every community has a right to recovery with this legislation. As we approach the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there is no better way to utilize the lessons learned since 2005 and support our brothers and sisters along the Gulf Coast than by passing and funding the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act.

Click here to support to urge your Member of Congress to support the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act.

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