Economists for Full Employment

by Chris Sturr | January 17, 2009

The group Economists for Full Employment are circulating a petition to be given to Obama and Congress.

If you are based in the U.S. and wish to sign the petition, please click here.

To see a full list of U.S.-based signatories, please click here.

Members and supporters of our network have drafted a petition to be sent to President-elect Obama. This petition will also be circulated to key policy makers and members of the U.S. House and Senate in early January 2009, urging them to ensure that the jobs created are accessible to women, minorities and the poor and that job creation initiatives include social services, alongside infrastructure development and “green jobs”. The petition also urges the Administration and lawmakers to set up mechanisms for consulting civil society and employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as for monitoring and evaluating employment-impacts.

The petition:

We the undersigned,

Applaud your vision and the incoming administration’s commitment to tackle job creation through public investment. As the current economic crisis is deepening within the US and reaching every corner of the global economy, unemployment is hitting hard and only beginning to show its true impact on Main Street. Up until now, the Government has responded with a bailout to the financial sector and to industry, effectively taking on a new role, unthinkable less than a year ago, of Lender and Investor of Last Resort. But what was initially viewed as a financial crisis has now turned into a full-blown jobs crisis. In these difficult times, and pursuing your own vision, we encourage you to ensure that in addition to financial and private sector support, the government stands ready to take up the responsibility of Employer of Last Resort.

This is far from a pipedream. From the figures being advanced in the press, it appears that the financial bailout could cost up to 1 trillion dollars, or about 7% of GDP. International experience has shown that different forms of employment guarantee can be implemented for between 1 and 2% of GDP. Such programs do not replace or crowd out the private sector. To the contrary, they help to strengthen the private sector by increasing the productivity of human and physical capital.

You have announced a plan for employment creation in green jobs and in long overdue construction and rehabilitation of much needed physical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and schools. Your target of three million jobs is indeed encouraging, especially if measures are taken to ensure equitable access to these jobs for women, young people and minorities and if the infrastructure investments are selected to support also their economic and social development.

In addition to your proposal for green jobs and physical infrastructure, there exist many hidden vacancies waiting to be filled in the area of social care and community infrastructure upgrading. Clean and safe community centers, early childhood development programs and eldercare, new uses of public spaces for cultural and educational programs and home-based care are but a few examples. These jobs will improve the life of our communities and will provide beneficial job opportunities for women, young people and those who live in underserved communities. In poor communities, unemployment rates are double the national average even in good times. Beyond the income provided, such job creation will allow for human capital development and greater participation in economic, political and cultural life.

We, supporters and members of a network of Economists for Full Employment, believe that having access to a decent job is a key human right that contributes to living a life in dignity; promotes full citizenship, peace and security; and helps people rise out and stay out of poverty. In addition to our convictions, we have practical experience in designing and implementing job creation programs throughout the world. We stand ready to bring this experience to all aspects of your proposed job creation initiative. This includes financing modalities, criteria for project selection, employment-impact assessments as well as training and capacity-building programs. Our aim is to ensure that public job creation becomes a foundation for inclusive growth and helps overcome, rather than reinforce, existing gender and racial disparities in employment.

We therefore respectfully call upon you to:

a. Make full and productive employment and decent work a top policy priority of your Administration;

b. Prioritize and allocate funds for public job creation in social infrastructure in addition to existing plans for the development of physical infrastructure and green jobs;

c. Put in place mechanisms for evaluating the employment-impact of all proposed projects and for consultation and involvement of civil society and social partners through public dialogue and community organization; and

d. Share with and learn from other countries’ experiences in developing and implementing employment-centered public policies at the international level.

Such a policy is good for people. It is good for economic stability. And it will also contribute towards eradicating poverty, promoting peace and security and achieving the objectives of the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.

Sincerely,

The Petition Signatories
Members and Supporters of Economists for Full Employment

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