Monday, November 30, 2009

Food for Thought: Emergency Jobs Programs

It's almost impossible to talk about the museum employment situation without talking about the general employment situation. "Times are tough everywhere." While it is discouraging to hear this platitude as an excuse for inaction, platitudes are platitudes for a reason. The job market really is awful right now. Here's an excerpt from a New York Times op-ed you really ought to read:
"If you’re looking for a job right now, your prospects are terrible. There are six times as many Americans seeking work as there are job openings, and the average duration of unemployment — the time the average job-seeker has spent looking for work — is more than six months, the highest level since the 1930s.

You might think, then, that doing something about the employment situation would be a top policy priority. But now that total financial collapse has been averted, all the urgency seems to have vanished from policy discussion, replaced by a strange passivity. There’s a pervasive sense in Washington that nothing more can or should be done, that we should just wait for the economic recovery to trickle down to workers.

This is wrong and unacceptable."

- "The Jobs Imperative" - Paul Krugman

What Krugman proposes is a job creation program similar to the Works Progress Administration: salaried public service jobs, incentives for employers to hire instead of fire, etc. Kat and I have been rooting for a new W.P.A. for over a year now so naturally I think this is a great idea. The negative effects of unemployment don't disappear when you find a job. We need to be tackling long-term solutions.

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