NATIONAL JOBS FOR ALL COALITION
Prepared for the National Jobs for All Coalition
by Charles Bell, Consumers Union; Helen
Lachs Ginsburg, Economics (Emerita), Brooklyn College;
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Social Work, Adelphi
University; Philip Harvey, School of Law, Rutgers
University; June Zaccone, Economics (Emerita),
Copyright © 2007 National Jobs for All Coalition
Highlights on the Road
Full Employment and
Economic Security for All
Excerpts from The Economic Bill of Rights,
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union Message,
• The right to a useful and remunerative job…
• The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and
clothing and recreation;
• The right of every family to a decent home;
• The right to adequate medical care …
• The right to adequate protection from the economic fears
old age and sickness and accident and unemployment;
• The right to a good education....
The Employment Act of 1946
The government has an obligation
to create “conditions…to promote maximum employment….”
Full Employment and Balanced Growth
Act of 1978
• …the right of all Americans able, willing and seeking
to full opportunity for useful paid employment at fair rates of
• Interim goal of 4% unemployment within 5 years,
ultimate goal of full employment.
These proposals and laws were a response to economic, social and
political conditions different from ours. In today’s economy,
corporate-driven responses to technological changes that have
the world smaller, full employment is needed more than ever. Its
attainment economically feasible. But political will has been
lacking. This proposal—Shared Prosperity and the Drive for
Decent Work—advocates a major step toward jobs for all at
living wages. And it can inspire the political mobilization to
make full employment a reality. This is not a stand-alone program.
This booklet describes a giant step forward and also calls attention
to essential complementary policies.
A DECENT WORK DEFICIT
Some People Think We Have Full Employment.
No. In fact, we have a huge deficit of
decent work. In 2006, 7 million
people on average were officially unemployed at any given time.
This is a
rate of 4.6%, considered relatively low unemployment. But what
the figures? Another 4.2 million people wanted full-time work
but were forced
to work part time. Instead of being counted as unemployed or partially
unemployed, they were counted as employed. An additional 4.8 million
people wanted a job but weren’t counted as unemployed because
they weren’t actively looking for one. So 16 million people
were either unemployed or underemployed. And many millions more
were working at poverty wages.
In the same year, the average number of job openings
was only 4.1
million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Thus, there were
nearly twice as many officially unemployed workers as job openings,
and these were not necessarily living wage jobs. This
is not the full
employment ideal that was once at the top of the agenda of most
A PUBLIC INVESTMENT DEFICIT
In addition to the decent jobs deficit, the U.S.
has another deficit, an
underinvestment in vital human and physical resources. Our public
• Neglect of child, elder and health care, education, housing
• Neglect of public transit, bridges, levees, schools and
• Neglect of renewable energy and energy-efficient production.
• Neglect of environmental sustainability.
OUR PROGRAM SHOWS HOW REDUCING THE DECENT
JOBS DEFICIT CAN REDUCE THE PUBLIC INVESTMENT DEFICIT, AND REDUCING
THE PUBLIC INVESTMENT DEFICIT REDUCES THE DECENT JOBS DEFICIT.
We propose a DRIVE FOR DECENT WORK: A WIN-WIN SOLUTION
• Creating jobs that stay in the United States;
• Investing in our physical and human resources;
• Sharing prosperity;
• Building a healthier, happier, more productive society.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Drive for Decent Work
(flier and overview)
Shared Prosperity: Decent Work and
More Public Investment
The Chronic Jobs Deficit
The Public Investment Deficit
The Budget Deficit: An Obstacle?
Proposals That Reduce the Multiple Deficits
Housing Schools and Library Construction
Redirect Budget Priorities
Transportation and Environment
Planning for Full Employment
The NJFAC 21st Century Investment Program
Public Works Authority
Stand-by Public Investment Fund
National Employment Accounting Office
Paying for Public Investment and Job Creation
Appendix A: Economic Facts
Appendix B: The Public Investment
Appendix C: Principles for
Sustainable and Popular Job Creation
Appendix D: Other Policies
to Promote Decent Work and Shared Prosperity
Appendix E: Complementary
About the National Jobs for All Coalition
‘‘Our infrastructure is being depreciated so badly….
and yet we have unemployed people. Eventually we have to recognize
this problem and do something about it." — Augustus
F. Hawkins, Tape, November 18, 1992
Augustus F. Hawkins, 1907-2007
Dedicated to the memory of Augustus F. Hawkins, member, House
Representatives for three decades, a founder of the Congressional
Caucus and member of the Advisory Board, National Jobs for All
An ardent champion of civil rights, working people and the poor,
co-authored the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978
(Humphrey-Hawkins). His vision was a society that guaranteed
useful employment for all at fair wages.
THE DRIVE FOR DECENT WORK
The pages below which summarize the Drive for Decent
Work can be downloaded as a flyer at http://www.njfac.org/whathap.pdf
or obtained from the National Jobs For All Coalition office (see
address and telephone number at bottom of this page).
What is included in the Drive for Decent Work?
• Documentation of the “double deficit” in jobs
and public investment to which
this initiative is addressed;
• Description of the legislation and other proposals that
NJFAC is supporting,
including NJFAC’s proposal for a 21st Century PublicInvestment
• Criteria for sustainable and popular public job creation;
complementary to the public investment and job creation initiatives
Please tell us your reactions to the Drive for Decent Work, how
to improve and gain widespread support for it. A questionnaire
to tap your thoughts is available at http://www.njfac.org/questr.htm.
We look forward to hearing and learning from you and most of all
to your support. Sign on to the Drive for Decent
Work, send us your contribution to carry on this work, and
get your organization to do the same.
Our nation’s output per person doubled since 1970.
But most of us don’t share this prosperity.
Why? Because most of it goes to the top.
It wasn’t always this way. After World
War II, Americans began to expect that growing abundance would
be more widely shared.
Progress toward shared prosperity has been reversed.
How? Through an assault on middle- and lower-income
people by Corporate America and its political partners. By shipping
millions of jobs overseas. By increasing profits at the expense
of workers and the environment. Through tax giveaways to corporations
and the rich. By a decline in effective political protest and
in union density and power.
WHAT DOES SHARED PROSPERITY MEAN?
Secure, living-wage jobs for all • Equal
opportunity • A safe workplace •
Occupational advancement • A more humane workplace •
autonomy • Enforceable collective bargaining rights •
Paid vacation, family and sick leave • Quality, affordable
child care • Reduced work time • More time for family,
community and leisure • Public recreational facilities for
all • Comprehensive health care for all • Public health
protection • Affordable housing • Sustainable energy
• A clean environment • Affordable, accessible public
transportation • Lifelong education • Decent income
and services for the elderly, disabled, ill, and unemployed
HOW CAN WE START BACK TO SHARED PROSPERITY?
By Reducing the Chronic Jobs and Public Investment Deficits and
By Initiating a Drive for Decent Work
The Chronic Jobs Deficit: Even
with unemployment in the 4-5% range there are millions more unemployed
workers than available jobs. And that’s not even counting
the underemployed and underpaid. The chronic jobs deficit is especially
high and burdensome for minorities and youth.
The Public Investment Deficit: There is massive
underinvestment in public transit, bridges, levees, schools and
other infrastructure and in child, elder and health care, education,
housing and other basics. A nation that fails to invest in its
human, physical and environmental resources is doomed to decline.
Decent Work through Public Investment Is a Win-Win Solution
A DRIVE FOR DECENT WORK
Every Job Should Be Decent Work.
Decent work sums up the aspirations of people
in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that
is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace
and social protection for families, better prospects for personal
development and social integration, freedom for people to express
their concerns, organize, and participate in the decisions that
affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for
all women and men. —International
How Can We Start?
STEP 1. Support bills introduced in Congress and other
proposals to meet urgent, unmet public needs and create millions
of living-wage jobs. If all such pending job legislation
were enacted, this would substantially reduce unemployment, underemployment
and the public investment deficit.
STEP 2. Reduce military spending to genuine defense needs
and stop the Bush tax cuts for the rich that increase
inequality and cost the Treasury billions. Public investments
pay for themselves in the long run, but start-up costs can be
met through ending the tax giveaways and wasteful military spending.
STEP 3. Introduce and pass the 21st Century Public Investment
provide for high-priority public works and services that aren’t
currently funded, with emphasis on increasing jobs for the unemployed.
Jobs would pay prevailing wages, along with health and other benefits.
Public Investment and Decent Work Cost the Government
Unemployment: Newly employed workers pay more taxes,
spends less on benefits to cover the heavy social and economic
unemployment to jobless workers and their families. Workers are
healthier, better educated—hence more productive—
and likely to earn higher incomes. Profits rise as consumption
and capacity are more fully used. The economic stimulus of direct
job creation typically spurs further, indirect job creation.
Establish a National Employment Accounting Office (NEAO)
to evaluate progress, assess continuing needs for job
creation and public investment, and assure both community involvement
and achievement of Decent Work principles.
STEP 4. Make the minimum wage more like a living wage:
inadequate minimum wage up to its 1968 level—or about $9.25
(2007)—to be phased in and linked to 60% of the average
DOCUMENTATION AND ELABORATION OF PROPOSALS
DECENT WORK AND MORE PUBLIC INVESTMENT
The Chronic Jobs Deficit
Millions of Americans are without work and without decent wages
in good times as well as bad. These include not only the officially
unemployed but also the “hidden unemployed”—involuntary
part-time workers and those who want a job but aren’t currently
looking for one.
During 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers
in the United States had, on average, only 4.1 million job openings.
But nearly twice as many workers were officially unemployed that
In that same year, an average of 7 million people were officially
unemployed, that is, working less than an hour a week in paid
employment and looking for
Another 4.2 million people were working part time because they
couldn’t find a full-time job but were not counted as unemployed.
And 4.8 million people wanted jobs but also weren’t counted
as officially unemployed because they were not actively looking
Thus, 16 million people wanted more work than the economy provided—and
this was nearly 5 years after the recession of 2001 officially
In addition, 17 million more people were working full time, year
round but earning less than the official poverty level for a family
of four (in 2005, the latest year available). This means at least
33 million people were either unemployed, underemployed or working
at poverty wages.
Unemployment rates for young workers and African Americans are
always much higher than average. In 2006, when overall unemployment
was 4.6%, the rate for African Americans was almost double—8.9%.
Among all 16 to 19 year olds, 15.4% were unemployed, and three
out of 10 African-American teens (29.1%) were unemployed. Unemployment
of Hispanic workers was 5.2%.
The Public Investment Deficit
Sound public investment is vital to a well-functioning economy.
Productive public investment includes physical infrastructure
such as public transportation, bridges and dams and sewage treatment
systems. It also includes services such as health, education,
child and elder care and homeland security. Sound public investment
directly or indirectly enhances the quality of life of individuals.
It also makes the economy more productive and thus is partially
The United States has a huge public investment deficit. The result
is a deficient
and deteriorating public infrastructure and public services.
• Thousands of bridges and dams are unsafe or structurally
• Weak levees await new Katrinas.
• Forty seven million Americans lack health insurance; millions
who are insured are pooly covered.
• One in every three American families is unable to rent
or buy affordable housing.
• Only about one in eight families eligible for subsidized
day care actually get it, and many are financially strained by
high child-care costs.
• Three-quarters of schools reported need for repairs, renovations,
modernization, and many classrooms are seriously overcrowded.
For more Facts about The Public Investment Deficit, see Appendix
The Budget Deficit: An Obstacle?
Budget deficits can be sound economic policy when they
are designed to stimulate consumption and investment or benefit
those who need a tax break most. But current deficits
were designed to do none of these. Rather, the result was to permit
tax reductions for the rich, further worsening income distribution.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2007),
tax cuts robbed the Treasury of more than $1 trillion between
2001 and 2006. Another roughly $300 billion has been spent on
the Iraq War (as of July 2006), and total estimates for the war
approch $3 trillion.
The federal budget had surpluses of well above $100 billion in
2000 and 2001. In the succeeding four years the average deficit
shot up to the $300 billion plus range.
Budget-busting tax cuts engorge the wealthy and, along with military
create budget deficits that, in turn, create overwhelming pressures
and rationales to cut social investment.
The Drive for Decent work is likely, in the long run to pay for
itself (see below, "Paying for Public Investment
and Job Creation"). Moreover, the costs of borrowing
will buy important investments in human and physical resources.
And most of all, they will significiantly reduce the chronic jobs
and public investment deficits.
PROPOSALS THAT REDUCE THE MULTIPLE DEFICITS
A good start is to support legislation that has
been introduced in Congress and other proposals that would meet
urgent, unmet public needs and at the same time create jobs.
If all these bills and proposals were enacted, they would create
millions of jobs, substantially reduce unemployment and underemployment,
reduce the public investment deficit and increase tax revenues.*
*See Appendix C for Principles for Sustainable
Job Creation: A Guide to
The next section consists of job creation bills and proposals
that the Coalition
supports in its Drive for Decent Work. They are organized according
of public investment (Child Care, Housing, etc.). Please note
that in some
cases, the bills were introduced in previous sessions of Congress
not been reintroduced. We include them here because they represent
important policy proposals that should receive strong consideration
Increase funding for the federal Child
Care and Development Block Grant. The President’s
budget for FY 2008 proposes a freeze in discretionary spending
for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). This is
the sixth consecutive year that the Administration has proposed
a freeze in funding for the CCDBG.
In a 2007 report, the Center for Law and Social Policy states:
Years of flat funding have already resulted in 150,000 fewer children
assistance. As the costs of providing child care rise each year,
results in fewer children served each year. The President’s
care funding freeze will reduce the number of children [served]
According to the Administration’s own projections, 300,000
would receive child care assistance by 2010. Additional losses
will result in
a total decline of an estimated 450,000 children [served] from
Funding for FY 2008 needs to be increased by at least $720 million
just to offset inflation. However, restoring past program cuts
is insufficient to meet current and projected needs. (By 2010
the United States is expected to have 1.2 million more children
aged four and under.)
According to a 2002 study, total national child care spending
of $41 billion supports 2.8 million jobs directly in child care
and indirectly in other sectors. In addition, dollars spent on
the formal child care sector generate additional earnings by parents.
By supporting working families, and enabling women, in particular,
to participate in the workforce, expanded public investment in
child care makes good economic sense and helps pay for itself
over the long run.
In addition, a study of child care in New York State has found
that each federal dollar spent generates more than $2 in local
economic activity. Each job created by increased local demand
for child care generates nearly 1.3 jobs in the broader state
economy, and each additional job created by an increase in external
demand for child care generates 1.5 jobs.
Hire 100,000 new teachers. In 2001, legislation
to reduce class size by hiring 100,000 new teachers was introduced
in both the House (First Things First Act) and Senate (Class Size
Amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). The
Senate amendment was narrowly defeated. An amendment to the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (HR 2668), introduced in 2007, contains
a similar proposal for hiring 100,000 new teachers.
Hire 100,000 new paraprofessionals. HR 209 would
finance the recruitment, hiring and training
of 100,000 new classroom paraprofessionals in order to provide
more special attention for children and improve their educational
achievement. We believe both HR 2668 and HR 209 should be enacted.
Expand funding for early childhood education through Head
Improving Head Start Act of 2007 (HR 1429) would increase program
quality and expand access to this important program for young
children. H.R. 1429 increases the federal funding by $450 million
which will allow Head Start to serve more children nationwide.
Additional provisions upgrade job quality by increasing funding
for teacher and staff salaries and professional development, encouraging
full-day and full-year operations, and hiring additional qualified
staff. (Introduced by Rep. Dale Kildee, D-MI)
Increase federal and state funding for afterschool programs.
The Afterschool Alliance, a national nonprofit organization, has
called for every child in the United States to have access to
an after-school program by the year 2010. According to the Alliance,
14.3 million children take care of themselves after the school
day ends. Just 6.5 million children are in afterschool programs,
but the parents of another 15.3 million children say their children
would participate in an after-school program if it were available.
Providing additional federal and state funding for afterschool
programs to cover all eligible children would create hundreds
of thousands new jobs. In addition, studies have shown that afterschool
programs help pay for themselves by reducing child-care costs,
improving school performance,
increasing earnings, and reducing crime and welfare costs.
HOUSING, SCHOOLS, & LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION
In October 2007, the House of Representatives passed the National
Affordable Housing Trust Act to provide for the development, rehabilitation
and preservation of decent, safe and affordable housing for low-income
families. The Act would create close to 200,000 jobs per year
in construction and would leverage many additional jobs.
On December 19, S. 2523, the National Affordable Housing Trust
Fund Act of 2007 was introduced in the Senate. The Senate bill
is very similar to the House passed version and has been referred
to the Senate Banking Committee.
Bringing America Home Act. This bill is designed
to end homelessness in the United States. It has housing, health,
income and civil rights components, including establishment of
a “Homebuild” program for training and apprenticeship.
(Introduced by Rep. Julia Carson, D-IN, as HR 4347 in 109th Congress,
the bill is expected to be reintroduced.)
School Construction and Repair
Expand and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2007
(HR 1862). This would encourage new school construction
through creation of a new class of bond. (Introduced by Rep. Loretta
America’s Better Classroom Act would provide
$25.2 billion in interest-free funds over the next two years for
public school construction and modernization projects. (Introduced
as HR 1742/S1538 in the 109th Congress by Rep. Charles Rangel,
DNY and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV)
The Andrew Carnegie Public Libraries Act would
make $1 billion in grants available over five years for public
library construction and modernization. (Introduced as HR 2922
in 109th Congress by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-NY)
REDIRECT BUDGET PRIORITIES
Transfer funds from military to civilian
priorities. The Common Sense Budget 1702, introduced
by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-CA) would reallocate
$60 billion from the defense and energy department budgets toward
children’s education, increased children’s access
to health care, expanded job
training, and increased energy efficiency and conservation. The
bill includes $10 billion for school construction and renovation,
and $10 billion for investments in conservation and energy efficiency.
The Apollo Project, a proposal of a coalition
of unions, environmental and other organizations, is
a crash program to develop renewable energy and conservation over
10 years. This $300 billion program would create at least 3.3
million jobs over the 10 year period and eventually pay for itself
through increased economic activity, related tax and energy savings.
The program would require targeted investments of $30 billion
a year in energy diversity, high-performance buildings, future-oriented
industries such as hybrid cars, and public infrastructure to overcome
sprawl and encourage energy-efficient transportation. Energy efficiency
is far more labor intensive than generation, creating 21.5 jobs
for every $1 million invested. (The Apollo Project proposal can
be implemented through various federal, state and local legislation.
Much activity is already taking place at the municipal and state
TECHNOLOGY, TRANSPORTATION & ENVIRONMENT
Strengthen New Orleans Levees to Withstand
a Category 5 Hurricane, and reinvest in public facilities, housing,
health care transportation and other infrastructure needs in the
Gulf Coast. The Congressional Hurricane Katrina Task
Force chaired by Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) has recommended that
Congress mandate the construction of a Category 5 levee system
and corresponding flood control structures to ensure protection
for all residents of metropolitan New Orleans. Strengthening the
levees to achieve Category 5 protection, and implementing other
coastal restoration measures, would greatly improve the physical
security of New Orleans against hurricanes and storms, and create
many additional jobs. In addition, Congress should provide additional
funds and create fast-track procedures to facilitate the construction
and restoration of municipal buildings, schools, affordable housing,
hospitals and other critical infrastructure in New Orleans and
the Gulf Coast communities.
Brownfields Redevelopment Action Grants (BRAG). This
proposed federal grants program would help communities clean up
former industrial and
manufacturing sites known as brownfields so that they can be used
manufacturing, housing, parks or other purposes. The U.S. Conference
of Mayors and the American Society of Civil Engineers have recommended
that the United States establish a program within the Environmental
Protection Agency to provide investment funds for local governments
to leverage private investment in brownfields redevelopment. According
to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, redeveloping brownfields sites
in 148 cities could create 576,373 new jobs and generate $1.9
billion in annual tax revenue.
Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Act (HR 5054).
This would create a
Federal Bank for Infrastructure Modernization to award $50 billion
in loans to
state and local governments to finance infrastructure repairs
and upgrading of
roads, bridges, rail systems, schools, drinking, wastewater, and
many other types of facilities.
Infrastructure Trust Fund. The Center for Strategic
and International Studies Commission on Public Infrastructure,
led by investment banker Felix Rohatyn, has proposed that Congress
authorize a $100 billion trust fund, to be financed over a 5-year
period by special 50-year Treasury bonds created for that purpose.
The fund would co-finance high priority state and local investment
programs, including physical infrastructure and projects to create
intellectual property. The fund could make regional investments
to help regions that are being adversely affected by globalization,
deindustrialization, and job loss.
Expand Investment in Research and Science Education (S761
and H.Con. Res. 99). The America COMPETES Act authorizes
increases in research funding for the National Science Foundation
and other federal agencies, strengthens Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities from elementary through graduate
school, and establishes an innovation infrastructure. A related
budget resolution bill in the House calls for educating 100,000
new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, training more highly
qualified teachers in math and science classrooms, and providing
funds for development of clean and
sustainable energy technologies and basic research. (S761, introduced
by Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, and H.Con.Res.99, introduced by Rep.
John Spratt, D-SC) .
Fair Wage, Competition and Investment Act of 2005.
This would provide federal grants for transportation, water, rail,
mass transit, aviation infrastructure. Every $1 billion invested
in federal highway infrastructure directly creates an estimated
47,500 jobs. By investing $14 billion in highway projects over
2 years, S. 14 would create at least 665,000 jobs. It also includes
provisions to raise the minimum wage, prevent outsourcing of jobs,
expand broadband internet service and set limits on U.S. foreign
debt. (Introduced as S. 14 in 109th Congress by Sen. Debbie Stabenow,
Right Time to Reinvest in America’s Competitiveness
and Knowledge Act or the “Right Track Act.”
This would provide federal tax credits and financial incentives
for investments in future-oriented industries, such as high-tech
manufacturing, nanotechnology, vaccines, passenger rail systems,
energy efficiency and broadband internet. “Widespread use
of basic broadband would add $500 billion to our economy and create
1.2 million jobs.” It also contains provisions to increase
the minimum wage, help workers negatively impacted by 9 9 international
trade and expand opportunities for education and retraining. (Introduced
as S. 2357 in the109th Congress by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-MA)
Increase funding for the federal YouthBuild
Program. YouthBuild, a publicprivate partnership supported
by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
employs unemployed and at-risk youth, ages 16-25, in building
affordable housing for homeless and low-income people. The program
helps high school dropouts to work for General Equivalency Diplomas
while learning job skills in housing construction and renovation.
Since 1993, more than 47,000 YouthBuild Students have produced
over 13,000 units of low-income housing. YouthBuild USA estimates
that the $500 million invested in this program since 1993 will
produce a return on investment of approximately $10 billion of
savings to society during the lifetimes of the 47,000 young people
who have participated to date.
In 2005, an estimated 2.4 million young, low-income adults in
the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 had left high
school without a diploma or were unemployed. Currently, there
are about 200 YouthBuild programs around the United States that
engage approximately 7,000 young adults.
According to Youthbuild USA, the President’s Budget Request
for Fiscal Year 2008 includes just $50 million for YouthBuild,
perpetuating the 23% cut the program suffered in the FY’06
budget. In 2005, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution
urging the Congress to increase YouthBuild’s funding to
a level of $140 million or more from its previous level of $65
Increase funding for the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC).
In the mid-1970s, the United States funded a national Youth Conservation
Corps through the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training
Act (CETA) at a level of $60 million each year. Currently, Congress
only funds a token set-aside for the program of about $7 million
a year. YCC projects involve young men and women from ages 18
to 25 in building trails and campsites, planting trees, restoring
watersheds and monuments, conducting urban beautification projects
and eradicating exotic pests and weeds.. Increasing funding for
the Youth Conservation Corps would create many high-quality employment
opportunities for America’s young people, while improving
recreational opportunities for everyone and protecting and conserving
our natural resources.
The National Park Service director has stated that his agency
received $1.70 in benefits for every $1 it invested in YCC projects.
The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that it received $2 for
every $1 invested. Congress could appropriate additional funds
for youth and adult conservation job creation as part of the proposed
National Park Centennial Initiative.
PLANNING FOR FULL EMPLOYMENT
A Living Wage Jobs for All Act (HR 1050)
would establish the right of every adult American “to earn
decent wages, to a free choice among opportunities for useful
and productive paid employment, or for self-employment.”
The bill also establishes the right to income security for individuals
unable to work for pay. The bill would create an overall system
of planning for full employment and ensure that federal budgets
meet specified goals for the annual budget submitted to the Congress.
The goals include: (1) quality of life and environment; (2) responsible,
sustainable growth; (3) unemployment reduction; and (4) human
rights. HR 1050 requires the Joint Economic Committee to submit
an annual Concurrent Resolution on Economic Policy setting forth
its proposed employment goals. The bill also establishes a military
conversion planning fund to cope with declines in
military spending by making specific plans for expansion of economic
activities in non-military sectors.
The above list of pending legislation and policy proposals addresses
many—but certainly not all—of our nation’s unmet
needs for infrastructure
and services. If all of these bills and proposals were implemented,
would together create over 8 million jobs.
We invite additional ideas and suggestions for
ways to address America’s unmet needs and to create good
new jobs for unemployed and underemployed workers. The crisis
of unmet infrastructure and service needs represents an important
opportunity to rebuild a strong progressive coalition. By uniting
a wide range of interests around the creation of good jobs, we
can begin the reconstruction of a progressive movement. Together
we can achieve Decent Work for All and take significant strides
toward Shared Prosperity and Economic Justice.
THE NJFAC 21ST CENTURY PUBLIC
In addition to pending legislation and proposals
that meet NJFAC’s Principles for Job Creation (Appendix
C), we propose the 21st Century Public Investment Act to create
new jobs that address critical workforce and public needs that
otherwise would not be adequately funded by the public or private
NJFAC’s 21st Century Public Investment
Act has three parts: a Public Works Authority; A Public
Investment Fund/Public Service Employment Program (PIF); and a
National Employment Accounting Office (NEAO).
Public Works Authority (PWA)
The Public Works Authority (PWA) would provide long-term funding
for high priority public works and infrastructure projects that
are not currently funded by other branches of government. The
American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the United
States. needs $1.6 trillion in public and private investment over
the next five years to repair and upgrade our nation’s physical
The PWA would provide financing for projects that can’t
be financed through existing public and private sectors because
of the long time horizon of the investment or because, however
worthy the projects, communities cannot afford them. In the long
run, the projects would produce a financial return to the public
sector and the economy through increased economic activity and
reduced social costs (e.g., less environmental clean-up, lower
costs of production, less poverty and reduced unemployment).
The PWA should adopt explicit criteria to ensure that such projects
employment to the unemployed and underemployed, particularly disadvantaged
minorities, the structurally unemployed and people living in regions
of high unemployment, wherever possible. In the case of regions
of high unemployment, the projects should be in conjunction with
development planning by local and state authorities to create
PWA employment should meet the principles that NJFAC proposes
for all job creation (see Appendix B).
Stand-by Public Investment Fund (PIF)
The PIF would finance a Public Service Employment initiative designed
to close whatever job gap remained in the economy without adding
to inflationary pressures. It would create enough decent public
service jobs to employ everyone who wants to work, but it would
not compete with private employers who offer decent work. Jobs
would be created only in communities where private employers were
not prepared to offer employment to all job seekers and only to
the extent necessary to close the local economy’s job gap.
Most of these public service jobs would provide temporary employment
unemployed individuals, but the duration of the jobs would depend
living wage jobs becoming available to replace the PIF employment.
jobs would last much longer, on average, in economically depressed
The public service jobs would pay prevailing wages for comparable
work in the private sector, with collective bargaining rights,
labor protections, health benefits and vacation time. These jobs
might include after-school programs, libraries, summer jobs for
youth, recreation and arts and cultural programs, housing renovation,
environmental protection, the beautification and improvement of
park lands and other public space, and auxiliary service improvements
in a wide range of ongoing public services.
The PIF would develop criteria for selecting proposals for creating
jobs and meeting social needs that are submitted by federal, state
and local government agencies as well as non-profit organizations.
Possible programs are those that enhance the capacity of state
and local governments to provide social services. Matching funds
or in-kind contributions could be required from state and local
governments, depending on their ability to pay.
National Employment Accounting Office (NEAO)
The NEAO would assess the need for jobs and public
investment, evaluate progress and judge whether:
• Sufficient jobs have been created to provide employment
for everyone who
wants to work;
• Training requirements have been satisfied;
• Local deficits in job creation have been addressed without
(inflation-inducing) demand for labor in those local markets;
• Needs created by or made visible by the jobs program have
been met; and
• Supply or other cost pressures or problems have been addressed.
The NEAO would oversee the creation of local planning groups,
especially in high unemployment areas, to participate in the assessment
of needs, development of jobs and maintenance of “decent
Paying for Public Investment and Job Creation
The start-up costs for public investment and job creation can
be met by ending tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and
cutting wasteful military spending.
Paying for public investment and job creation will require some
government spending, especially at first, but in the longer run,
it shouldn’t cost us any more than we already are spending
in maintaining a partly-idle workforce and responding to the many
social problems joblessness causes. The newly employed will become
taxpayers. Less money will have to be spent on income assistance
benefits such as unemployment insurance. Both individuals and
families will be healthier and more secure — and therefore
less likely to experience the many medical, emotional and social
problems that end up costing governments money. And the economy
will be less prone to recessions.
In the short run, room could be found in public budgets to institute
programs by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy and ending the
war in Iraq.
APPENDIX A. ECONOMIC
In the decades after World War II, Americans began
to expect their nation’s growing abundance to be more widely
shared because, in fact, wages rose along with productivity. But
progress towards shared prosperity has been reversed.
Between 1973 and 2006, national output per person soared (a gain
of 85.9%) but average hourly wages (accounting for price changes)
of ordinary workers fell by nearly one-tenth (8.4 %).
Between 1968 and 2006, the value of the minimum wage for a full-time,
year-round worker fell by nearly half (46%)—from 120% to
65% of the government’s poverty standard for a 3-person
family. In 2007, Congress raised the minimum wage in stages to
$7.25 an hour in 2009, still far from a living wage.
Household income has grown more unequal. Between 1973 and 2005,
the share of total household income that went to the top quintile—that
is, the richest 20%— of households rose from 43.9% to 50.4%.
Thus the top 20% of households received half of all income—as
much as the total received by the other 80%. The top 5% got 22.2
percent of the total, more than the bottom 40%. (Between 1979
and 2000, the share of the top 1% almost doubled—from 9.3%
In 2005, every income quintile but the top received smaller shares
of the income pie than in 1973. For example the income share of
the middle 20% of households fell from l7.0 to 14.6%, while the
share of the poorest households fell from 4.2 to 3.4%. In short,
the income gains went to the top!
In 1980, the average CEO earned 40 times as much as the average
worker. Even that is high inequality, but by 2004, it was 431
times greater! In 2006. the average CEO earns more before lunch
in one day than the average minimum wage worker earns all year.
CEO pay continues to climb, while the federal minimum wage remained
unchanged from 1997 until it was raised in mid-2007. Before that
modest increase, it was at a 50-year low in real terms—more
evidence of our increasingly top-heavy income distribution.
Not surprisingly, from 1973 to 2006, the number of people living
measured by the U.S. government’s unrealistically low poverty
from 23 to 37 million, while the poverty rate rose from 11.1 to
12.3%, an increase of 10.8%.
APPENDIX B. THE PUBLIC
Examples of under-investment are all around
Repair and construction of levees to protect coastal areas have
around the country. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Congress and the
White House had reduced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’
latest request for levee improvements in New Orleans from $105
million to $42.2 million.
2,600 dams are unsafe. 21 dams collapsed in a recent two-year
More than one out of four American bridges is structurally deficient
or functionally obsolete. American roads are often congested and
in poor physical condition, costing motorists an estimated $54
billion a year in operating costs and adding to fuel consumption
and pollution. Public transportation would do much to relieve
One-third of American families are burdened by the high cost of
million families are paying over half their incomes for rent.
An estimated 1.6 million new units of housing are needed to ease
the shortage of affordable rental units.
Billions of gallons of untreated sewage are discharged into U.S.
surface waters every year because of under-investment in wastewater
Forty seven million Americans lack any health insurance, and millions
more are under-insured.
Quality child care is very hard for many parents to find or afford
because of a
shortage of public funding. Typically, child care workers earn
very low wages and have minimal health and other benefits.
The long-term health care sector is plagued by a severe shortage
assistants, home health and home care aides because of low wages
and insufficient Medicaid reimbursement.
America’s public health system is ill-equipped for a major
pandemic. Funding is far below what is needed.
Despite recent increases in funding for homeland security, many
local police and fire departments and emergency medical services
are “drastically under-funded and dangerously unprepared,”
according to a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Three-quarters of the nation’s schools need repairs, renovations
and modernization. Based on a nationwide survey of school principals,
the National Education Association estimates the need for school
construction and modernization at over $300 billion.
APPENDIX C: PRINCIPLES
FOR SUSTAINABLE AND P0PULAR PUBLIC JOB CREATION
All of these should be answered in the
Does the program address needs such as elder care, child care,
arts, transportation, environment, and infrastructure not met
by the market?
Is it responsive to workers and communities in times of economic
recession and hardship?
Are there mechanisms to calculate costs and long-term savings?
Does it produce useful goods and services that enhance the quality
Does it assure genuine community participation in determining
priorities for the
nature and type of jobs created and engage local communities in
partnerships to improve infrastructure and services?
Is it publicly accountable and financially transparent with protections
against private and public conflicts of interest?
Does it bring us closer to the long-range goal of decent work
for everyone who wants it?
Does it provide living wage jobs for low-income workers, part-time
workers who want full time work and for the structurally unemployed?
Does it offer educational opportunities and skill development
for workers who need it?
Does it provide wages comparable to private sector wages paid
for similar work?
Does it provide health insurance to all workers and child care
to all who need it?
Does it adequately provide for the health and safety of workers
and their communities?
Does it sustain and protect the environment?
Does it move the nation closer to a policy of full employment
by promoting the concept of a right to a job?
APPENDIX D: OTHER MAJOR
POLICIES TO PROMOTE DECENT WORK AND SHARED PROSPERITY
To put infrastructure investment and the resulting
direct public job creation in
context, there is a range of other policies that are needed to
employment and protect worker rights:
• Fiscal and monetary policies targeted at providing jobs
at decent wages for
everyone who wants to work;
• Modifications of international trade agreements to protect
jobs, with a goal
toward promoting full employment at home and abroad;
• Protection and expansion of government’s ability
to regulate corporations for the public interest;
• Restoration of progressive taxation
• Assurance of collective bargaining rights; and
• Renegotiation of global agreements to include labor rights
As a society, the United States should avail itself of the full
range of tools
that are needed to create full employment and economic security.
job creation through public investment should not be expected
to do the
whole job, but is an important and essential component of an overall
to provide living wage jobs for all.
APPENDIX E: COMPLEMENTARY
The Drive for Decent Work emphasizes the creation
of jobs at living wages and public investment. NJFAC has spelled
out what Shared Prosperity requires (see flyer). Federal legislation
required to achieve these components of Shared Prosperity includes:
• Living wages;
• Preservation and improvement of Social Security (Old Age,
• Paid family leave;
• Adequate income support for those who are unable to work,
unemployed or doing vital work in the home;
• Universal, comprehensive health care;
• Pay equity;
• Affirmative action and protection against discrimination;
• Enforceable health and safety protection in the workplace;
• A shorter work week;
• Equal rights and benefits for temporary and part-time
• Enforceable collective bargaining and labor rights;
• Women’s rights;
• Extension of labor rights to agricultural workers and
• Environmental sustainability;
• Tax reform that increases progressivity and cuts corporate
• State and local revenue sharing;
• Aid for cities and rural areas; and
• Military conversion.
About the National Jobs for All Coalition
The National Jobs for All Coalition is committed
to building a new movement forfull employment at livable wages.
This goal unites a diverse group of otherwise divided, single-issue
constituencies. The Coalition includes individuals and organizations
with a wide range of interests—workers’, women’s,
children’s and seniors’ rights, civil rights, and
economic justice. Others work on health care, the environment,
economic conversion, are academics, social workers and lawyers,
artists or simply concerned individuals. The goals of all of us
would be easier to reach if there were jobs for all at decent
The Coalition is committed to a sustainable peacetime economy
and to a democratic workplace that is supportive of families and
communities. We believe in equality for groups traditionally disadvantaged
in the workplace: women, minorities, youth, the elderly, the disabled,
immigrants, and gay men and women. Coalition policies would also
enhance the economic security of a middle class suffering from
downsizing and work stress.
Coalition members believe in the dignity of work and in a nation
where everyone who wants to work can find a decent-paying job.
Although the need for certain government benefits will be reduced
when we get jobs for all, some public income support will still
be needed. Full employment would be real welfare reform. In the
meantime, we must strengthen our safety net.
We welcome both individual and organizational support.
NATIONAL JOBS FOR ALL COALITION
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Chair;
Charles Bell, Vice-Chair; Harvey Baylis,
Secretary; the Rev. Bernard Mayhew,
Treasurer and Coordinator; Helen Lachs
Ginsburg and June Zaccone, Publications; Greg
Heires, Newsletter; Hyrum C. Smith, Ruth Spitz, Membership;
Charles Bell, Legislative Committee;
Marvin Rich, Fund Raising;
June Zaccone, Web; At large: Barbara
Arms (IL); Susan Bendor; Frank Bonilla (CA); Heather Boushey (DC);
Sheila Collins; David Gil
(MA); Sid Greenfield; Douglas Grote (NJ); Philip Harvey (NJ/PA);
Logan Martinez (OH); Ward Morehouse (MA); William P. Quigley (LA);
the Rev. Marcel Welty.
Elaine Allen, M.D., past Pres.,
NY Physicians for Social Responsibility
Eileen Appelbaum, Prof. & Dir, Center for Women
and Work, Rutgers
Barbara Arms, Exec. Dir., Campaign to Abolish Poverty
John S. Atlee, Pres., Institute for Economic Analysis
Bill Ayres, Exec. Dir., World Hunger Year
Elaine Bernard, Dir., Trade Union Program, Harvard
Frank Bonilla, Thomas Hunter Prof. (Emer.), Hunter
Ruth A. Brandwein, Prof. of Social Policy, SUNY-Stony
M. Harvey Brenner, Prof. of Health Policy and Mgt,
Johns Hopkins Univ.
Harold Chorney, Prof. of Public Policy, Concordia
Univ. (Canada); Intern’l Research
Group on Employment
Noreen Connell, Past Pres., NOW, NY State
Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, former Genl. Sec., National
Council of Churches
Darryl Fagin, Leg. Dir., Americans for Democratic
Jeff Faux, Past Pres., Economic Policy Institute
Charlotte Flynn, former Chair, National Board, Gray
Mathew Forstater, Dir., Center for Full Employment
and Price Stability, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City.
James K. Galbraith, Prof. of Economics, Univ. of
Herbert Gans, Prof. of Sociology, Columbia Univ.;
Past Pres., American
David Gil, Prof. of Social Policy, Brandeis Univ.
Woodrow Ginsburg, Chair, Economic Policy Com., ADA
Jerome Grossman, Chair, Council for a Livable World
Philip Harvey, Rutgers Univ. School of Law
James Haughton, Dir., Harlem Fight Back
Hon. Augustus Hawkins, Co-author, Humphrey-Hawkins
“Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978,”
Former Chair, Education and Labor Committee, U.S. Congress, House
Jörg Huffschmid, Prof. of Economics, Univ. of Bremen
Denis M. Hughes, Pres., NY State AFL-CIO
Benjamin K. Hunnicutt, Sr., Prof. of Leisure Studies,
Univ. of Iowa
Walter Johnson, Sec.-Treas, San Francisco Central
Rhoda H. Karpatkin, Pres. Emer., Consumers Union
Gordon Lafer, Prof. of Economics, Labor Education
and Research Center, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
Staughton Lynd, Lawyer and Historian
Manning Marable, Dir., Institute for Research in
African-American Studies and Prof. of History, Columbia Univ.
Ray Marshall, Rapoport Centennial Chair in Economic
and Public Affairs, Univ. of Texas and former U.S. Secretary of
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Congregation B’nai
Lawrence Mishel, co-author, The State of Working
Julio Morales, Prof., School of Social Work, Univ.
Ward Morehouse, Pres., Council on International &
Hon. Jerrold Nadler, U.S. Congress, House
Katherine Newman, Prof. of Public Policy, Kennedy
Jocelyn Pixley, Sr. Lecturer in Sociology, Univ.
of New South Wales, Australia
Robert Pollin, Co-Dir., Political Economy Research
Center and Prof. of
Economics, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst
Helen Prejean, C.S.J., Chair, Coalition for Abolition
of the Death Penalty
William P. Quigley, Janet Mary Riley Dist. Prof.
of Law, Loyola Univ.
Therese Rajaniemi, Unemployment activist (Sweden)
Bernard Rapoport, Chair and CEO of American Income
Life Insur. Co.
Rev. Charles Rawlings, Dir. (ret.), Urban Initiatives
Program, National Council of Churches
Robert B. Reich, Prof. of Public Policy, Univ. of
California, Berkeley; former Secretary of Labor
Markley Roberts, former Asst. Dir. of Economic Research,
Frank Roosevelt, Prof. of Economics, Sarah Lawrence
Nancy Rose, Prof. of Economics, California State
Univ, San Bernardino
Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, Prof. Emerita and former
Chair, Puerto Rican Studies, Brooklyn College
William E. Scheuerman, Pres., United Univ. Professions,
Juliet Schor, Prof. of Sociology, Boston College
Pete Seeger, Folk-singer and Environmentalist
Ruth Sidel, Prof. of Sociology, Hunter College
Victor Sidel, M.D., Dist. Univ. Prof., Albert Einstein
School of Medicine
Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Prof. of Government
Walter Stafford, Prof. of Social Policy, New York
Mark di Suvero, Sculptor
Marc R. Tool, Past Pres., Assn. for Evolutionary
Richard L. Trumka, Sec.-Treas, AFL-CIO
Joseph B. Uehlein, former Pres., Labor Heritage Foundation
& Dir., Strategic Campaigns, AFL-CIO
The Most Rev. Rembert G.Weakland, Archbishop of Milwaukee
Cornel West, Univ. Prof of Religion, Dept of Religion
& Center for African American Studies, Princeton Univ.
Charles J. Whalen, Institute for Industry Studies,
William Julius Wilson, Prof. of Social Policy, Harvard
Kent Wong, Dir., Center for Labor Research &
The National Jobs For All Coalition remembers
its late advisers
and leaders with gratitude:
Winifred Bell, social policy
scholar • Alice H. Cook, labor educator;
advocate for working women • Robert Eisner, Past President,
Economic Assn • Ossie Davis, playwright, leading actor,
civil rights activist
• John Kenneth Galbraith, Past Pres., American Economic
author • Bertram Gross, chief drafter of the Employment
Act of 1946 &
original version of Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978 • Robert
author, The Worldly Philosophers • Seymour Melman, scholar-critic
Permanent War Economy • Rudolf Meidner, architect of Swedish
fullemployment welfare state • Sumner M. Rosen, scholar-activist
Sheinkman, President–Emer., Amalgamated, Clothing Workers
America, AFL-CIO • Robert J. Schwartz, co-founder, Economists
Against the Arms Race • Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate, Economics,
pioneer in artificial intelligence • Sir Hans Singer, innovator,
economics • William Vickrey, Nobel Laureate, Economics,
of “chock-full” employment • Elizabeth Wickenden,
social welfare and
Social Security policy consultant and advocate.
I [WE] Want to Support and Endorse the Drive for
I [We] want to support the Coalition and endorse its Drive for
Enclosed is my tax-deductible contribution of $________. To pay
by credit card, click on
Email us your affiliation and volunteer interests.
Affiliation (if any) ____________________________________________________
I can organize a meeting _____; approach legislators, other people,
organizations; _____; serve as a local organizing contact_____;
endorsements _____; volunteer for the Coalition_____; I’d
* While I may not agree with every detail, I believe the Drive
for Decent Work points the way toward Shared Prosperity and Secure,
Living Wage Jobs for All.
The National Jobs for All Coalition is a project
of the Council on International and Public Affairs.