July 24, 2018

Watson Coleman, Khanna Focus on Jobless Workers with New Bills

Washington, DC (July 24, 2018) – Today, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) each introduced legislation to ensure that every jobless worker in the country is given the opportunity to earn a living.

Despite the low official unemployment rate, 8 million Americans who want work cannot find jobs. Meanwhile, nearly 4.7 million Americans who want full-time work can only find part-time jobs. Reps. Watson Coleman and Khanna have each introduced legislation that would take real action in getting more Americans into jobs that will give them access to the middle class.

Introduced by Rep. Watson Coleman, The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018, H.R. 6467, creates a pilot program within the Department of Labor to test the impact of a federal job guarantee in 15 high-unemployment communities across the country. Within these test sites, any adult resident seeking employment would be matched with a job in an understaffed field, including senior- and childcare, infrastructure, and community revitalization, infusing resources that will improve American communities while increasing access to jobs.

“Working to help your family succeed, working to get ahead financially, working to build your own version of the American dream is a foundational element of our national values. But it requires the chance to work, and for many people, that chance is out of reach,” said Watson Coleman. “This measure would build economic security for working families and grow our country’s middle class, while placing workers in industries with real need and filling obvious employment gaps. Elected officials often talk a big game about job creation — this bill is about walking the walk and putting people back to work.”

The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018 is a House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). Jobs created through the program will include a minimum wage phased to $15/hour, paid family and sick leave, and health coverage like that enjoyed by Members of Congress. The bill also expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize private employers to recruit and hire participants out of the pilot program.

Introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna, the Job Opportunities for All Act provides federal funding to put people to work immediately in both the public and the private sector. It seeks to fulfill its namesake’s call for the “right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation” – the first component of President Roosevelt’s visionary Economic Bill of Rights.

“In the richest country on earth, no one should be denied the opportunity to earn a living. 75 years after President Roosevelt recognized this fundamental right, it is time to act. This pragmatic and comprehensive legislation will accomplish his vision. The bill provides the tools to get our people back to work, whether one is laid off due to a factory closing, is a victim of racial discrimination, or has faced a long battle with homelessness,” said Rep. Khanna.

The Job Opportunities for All Act would appropriate funds for the Department of Labor to administer competitive grant programs for the hardest hit communities, and matching funds to states that invest in direct job creation proposals. Funding may be used for wraparound services that help the most vulnerable jobseekers overcome barriers to employment, or for training aimed at achieving an industry-recognized credential.

The legislation builds on the success of 40 years of subsidized jobs programs, including President Obama’s Recovery Act TANF Emergency Fund, which placed 260,000 at-risk individuals into jobs at the height of the Great Recession, as well as successful programs in Europe.

The bill prioritizes state and local efforts that focus ending the longstanding racial unemployment gap, as well as targeting areas afflicted by the opioid crisis – an epidemic that has been linked to joblessness. Unionized workplaces are given additional incentives to bring in new employees.

Praise for The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018

“Our economy and our federal and state governments are increasingly focused on serving the needs of corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of working people.  The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018 is a much-needed breath of fresh air - a positive step toward building an economy that works for all, not just the privileged few.” — Jeannette Huezo, Executive Director, United for a Fair Economy

“For far too long, concentrated and persistent unemployment has been tolerated as inevitable, rather than seen as a scourge that should be stamped out. This legislation will build the capacity to provide a crucial new tool in the fight against this type of unemployment: hiring people directly to work for the public good. It is a bold and welcome development.” Dr. Josh Bivens, Director of Research, Economic Policy Institute

 “[The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018] represents a powerful step forward for the idea of a federal jobs guarantee, which would provide economic security and mobility for all Americans.” — Darrick Hamilton, Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School

“With growing appreciation of how our economy falls short in creating enough jobs for everyone, it makes all the sense in the world to test an ambitious community-based jobs guarantee that would boost employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and help meet community needs.” — Laura Tatum, Director of Jobs and Education at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality

Original Cosponsors: Ro Khanna (CA-17), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Andre Carson (IN-07), William Lacy Clay (MO-01), Emmanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Elijah Cummings (MD-7), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Al Green (TX-09) Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), John Lewis (GA-05), Donald McEachin (VA-04), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-At Large), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Stacey Plaskett (VI-At Large), Bobby Rush (IL-01), David Scott (GA-13), Robert A. Brady (PA-01), Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Dwight Evans (PA-2), Frederica Wilson (FL-24)

Praise for the Job Opportunities for All Act

“Rep. Khanna did his homework and came up with a smart, ambitious jobs plan based on our knowledge of how to most effectively and efficiently provide employment opportunities to the people and places left behind, even at low national unemployment. It’s a plan that will finally get us to truly full employment, where everyone gets a chance to realize their economic potential, including those who’ve long faced steep labor market barriers.” — Jared Bernstein, former top economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, co-author of “Getting Back to Full Employment”

"There are many causes of unemployment.  Having a one size fits-all approach of solving unemployment can have unanticipated bad consequences.  An important component that Representative Khanna adds to the mix is the ability to grease the friction in creating jobs in the private sector and facilitating moving people into private sector employment.  When a sector is rebounding from a cyclical decline, having a tool that can speed the transition of workers into an expanding sector is vital." — William Spriggs, Professor of Economics at Howard University and the former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor under President Obama, and Executive Director-designate of the Federal Commission for Employment Policy under President Clinton

"The thoughtful jobs proposal from Ro Khanna […] and the robust conversation/debate to get details right, is proof of how much progressives care about bold jobs proposals and making sure they actually work.” — Gene Sperling, Former Director, National Economic Council, Clinton Administration 1996-2001, Obama Administration 2011-2014

“The U.S. economy has worked off most (not all, but most) of the excess cyclical unemployment generated by the Great Recession and too-slow recovery. But even if this cyclical unemployment is completely erased, there will be large pockets of structural unemployment remaining. Representative Ro Khanna has a genuinely ambitious proposal for overcoming barriers to work faced by too many – whether these barriers are caused by discrimination, spatial mismatch, informational asymmetries, or skills-mismatch. As a society, we have never attacked the problem of chronic joblessness with the seriousness it deserves. Representative Khanna’s plan is what getting serious about this problem looks like.” — Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute

“Even as we hit 50-year lows for the unemployment rate it is clear that many workers are still left behind. Rep. Khanna has designed a thoughtful plan that can help many of these workers get jobs that will give them the skills and experience needed to get by without government support. If we want to ensure that everyone has a fair chance in our society, this is the direction in which we need to be looking.” -Dean Baker, Senior Economist at Center for Economic and Policy Research, co-author of “Getting Back to Full Employment”

"There is no reason why our nation cannot create decent, productive jobs where we need them most and for the people who need them most. This proposal represents as much ambition and innovation as it reflects serious, practical ideas. It would make a real dent in shrinking our country's racial disparities, advancing economic security and opportunity for many who are locked out of job opportunities. By marshaling proven strategies and pushing boundaries to test new approaches, this proposal would help communities facing longstanding disinvestment and today's working families, including those of us who need a foundation of basic services and supports like childcare and transportation to allow us to succeed on the job." — Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Co-Executive Director, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality

 "Khanna's Jobs for All plan is straight out of the social democratic playbook. Countries like Denmark and Germany have been extending subsidized jobs to the long-term unemployed for decades. Reintegrating detached workers back into the mainstream labor force protects vulnerable and marginalized workers and subsidized jobs have a long track record of doing just that." — Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project

Original Cosponsors:  Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Bennie Thompson (MS-02)