Economic Perspective: Improving the Economy for Struggling Workers

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.

MARY WALDEN:

“Today’s program looks at improving the economy for struggling workers. Mike, the economy is improving and the job market is expanding, but all working individuals aren’t seeing their lives improve. What are some of the things we can do to expand prosperity to more workers?”

MIKE WALDEN:

“Many economists, and others, have given a lot of thought to this and this issue so I’m going to compile a lot of the recommendations into my answer. One recommendation is to recognize that a lot of folks who are struggling can’t afford to perhaps live where they work. If in fact they work in a big city where housing is more expensive they have to live in rural areas, and they subject themselves to a long commute.”

“So one possibility is for the public sector, or maybe the business sector, to create a new fleet of busses to assist with that commute. There’s another answer to take unemployment compensation that we pay to folks who are out of work or lose their jobs, convert that to an education voucher because many times people are without jobs because they don’t have the right skill.”

“Likewise creating what’s called a mobility voucher where you allow people who are in regions that might be struggling because they’ve lost their major industries, help them move to regions where there are more jobs. Some say that we need to review licensing requirements for technical and vocational jobs to make sure they are not too excessive so that they don’t deter employment.”

“Finally I think there’s a wide consensus to say that the need to do more to boost training of individuals for technical and vocational jobs, and do that both in high school as well as with collaboration with employers. So a menu there of possibilities to address this very, very important issue of some folks struggling in the job market.”

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