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Groups, Legislators Propose Federal Job Guarantee for All

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No state's minimum wage covers the current cost of living, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Adobe Stock)
No state's minimum wage covers the current cost of living, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Adobe Stock)
 By Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN - Producer, Contact
December 11, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some organizations are pushing for what they call a federal job guarantee, legislation that would ensure that anyone who needs a good job has one.

The Federal Jobs for All campaign, which launched this week, has more than 500 supporters.

Sarah Treuhaft, managing director of the nonprofit group PolicyLink, said while nationwide employment may be low, the data doesn't take into account job quality or economic security.

"The inability to provide good jobs for all is really a key failure of our economy," Treuhaft said. "Too many of the jobs we're creating are low-wage jobs that don't pay enough to make ends meet or provide for a family. Some 44% of American workers now earn less than $18,000 per year."

Several lawmakers have proposed policies that would create pilot federal job-guarantee programs in communities across the country. In addition, the Green New Deal Resolution, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, also includes a job guarantee.

Treuhaft pointed out that local businesses, social services and taxpayers end up bearing the consequences of high unemployment.

"I think we need to think about the cost that we're paying right now for continued joblessness and for leaving people behind in our economy," she noted.

She added that livable wages and good jobs are connected to the overall health and well-being of communities: "Employment and income are correlated with all kinds of outcomes for health, well being, for democratic participation. We really need to think of it as an investment instead of a cost."

Sixty-one Tennessee counties have unemployment rates below 5%, while 34 counties now have unemployment rates at or above 5%, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

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