Jobs continue to be the country’s number one economic concern. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden discusses a bold but simple plan another economist has offered for increasing jobs.
“Well, he has proposed — and he’s done this at a national level — to simply say that if someone doesn’t have a job and can have a job (that is, they’re not retired or can’t physically do a job), the government ought to provide them one. If they can’t find one in the private sector, the government ought to say, Hey, we’re going to provide you with a job, and what we’re going to do is assess your talent and skills, and once we do that, we’re going to put you to work in some area like in education, maybe health care, personal services.
“My colleague estimates that this would be costly — budgeting a relatively modest amount for salaries as well as a benefits component, as well as the support system for those jobs. He estimates that to put everyone to work who is currently unemployed and could work would cost the country $750 billion a year.
“Now he does go on to say — and he’s not provided this number, but he does go on to say — that’s a total cost number. It may not be the net cost, because he argues that some of the money we’re now spending to help those folks without jobs we wouldn’t have to spend. So that $750 billion, he argues, is a top number. And he argues that this would be good for the country. It would be good for the individual people — would give them, obviously, work, productive work to do, et cetera.
“Critics say, ‘Well now, are these going to be make-work jobs?” And also they worry about will this reduce the motivation of those folks who would get these jobs, perhaps, to not do sorts of things they need to do in terms of education and training to get a job in the private sector.
“So, very, very bold plan. Very, very controversial plan, but it is out there for discussion.”