The subject is constantly in the news and may decide thenext national elections - the infamous jobless recovery.More than 8 million Americans are out of work with another 4million underemployed or no longer looking for work. Goodmanufacturing, technical and services jobs are being shippedto India, Asia, and other developing countries. The mood ofthe middle and working class becomes more pessimistic, theoutlook for their immediate future more grim.
Politicians debate solutions: abrogating current tradetreaties, providing protection for various industries,investment in retraining programs, wishful thinking thatlower taxes will turn everything around, the promise of alabor shortage within 15 years.
Meanwhile, the population grows, demanding the creation of150,000 new jobs per month just to stay even. Where are themore than 2 million 2004 jobs promised by the Council ofEconomic Advisers?
They will come when the government truly invests in thesocial and financial welfare of the working public.Historically, the U.S. has looked at employment only intimes of crisis - recession or alarming unemploymentfigures. Rather than "quick fixes," we need a national long-range policy on employment which addresses the issue, ingood times and bad, with sustained interest, analysis, andsupport.
Here are seven proposals:
1. Create a National Office of Employment to develop longterm strategies and oversight of the U.S. labor market inorder to track trends, analyze data, research emergingproblems, and prepare early interventions.
2. Identify growing and potential industries and the skillsthey will need in future staff.
3. Design a plan which allows for the rapid retargeting oftraining courses as Community Colleges and vocationalschools are traditionally 5 to 15 years behind currentneeds.
4. Provide substantial tax incentives for businesses to hirein the U.S. rather than shipping their jobs to low incomecountries.
5. Devise "red-tape-less" programs to reward employers withsignificant tax credits for hiring the long-term employedand new trainees.
6. Overhaul the processes of State Unemployment Offices byimplementing coordinated support programs in which workersparticipate as part of receiving unemployment benefits andemployers participate as a means of meeting their futureneeds for staff.
7. Provide incentives for employers to hire more part-timeworkers. Simultaneously, America must reframe its socialpolicy to promote a new work ethic of reduced work hours,along with increased leisure and volunteer activities, toallow more workers to be employed, albeit for fewer hours.Due to the negative emotional effects of living withoutwork, our society needs to stress high employment ratherthan high productivity which often translates into fewerworkers, working harder and longer.
Dr. Bola operated a rehabilitation company, developinginnovative job search techniques for disabled workers, for20 years. A licensed clinical psychologist, she directedvocational programs for the mentally ill, served as aVocational Expert in administrative and civil court, andpioneered vocational testimony in Workers' Compensation.Author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment SurvivalManual, she can be found at: http://www.virginiabola.com