Leading Economic Organizations Launch National Campaign for Subsidized Jobs

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Ten leading economic organizations launched a national campaign to “create an economy of full employment for all regardless of race, gender or region.” The campaign, Full Employment for All, calls for a federal program for subsidized employment targeted toward communities that face high rates of joblessness even during periods when the national unemployment rate is low.

Launched on Martin Luther King Day, Full Employment for All is timed to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary year of Dr. King’s Iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“Like in 1963, national employment numbers are relatively high, but those aggregate numbers can be deceiving,” said Algernon Austin, Director of Race and Economic Justice at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Black unemployment remains roughly double that of white workers nationwide, and regional unemployment rates for white workers in Appalachia, Latinos in the southwest, and among Native Americans remain persistently high.”

Subsidized employment programs, in which governments cover the costs of hiring new employees, have been successful in combating joblessness from the Great Depression through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, but the instability of the funding has limited their long-term benefits, and local discrimination meant that the outcomes were not equally distributed to everyone. A recent analysis of worker-centered employment strategies by Harvard University’s Center for International Development found that subsidized employment programs are the most effective policy solution to the problem of persistent joblessness.

“Decades of evidence show us that subsidized jobs work: they help pull people back into the labor market and increase economic security, especially for people facing systemic barriers to employment, such as Black and Brown workers,” said Kali Grant and Natalia Cooper of the Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality. “A federal program of subsidized employment would empower workers, strengthen communities, and move us toward a more equitable economy for everyone.”

“Only a federally funded and long-lasting subsidized employment program can adequately solve these disparities,” said Austin. “We have an historic opportunity to reach Dr. King’s goal of full employment, and on this anniversary year we expect this dream to become a reality.”

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