Ensuring an Equitable Recovery Through Subsidized Employment
Many people who want to work, including a disproportionate number of Black and Brown workers, experience chronic joblessness due to forces beyond their control.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Throughout history, the United States has created jobs and built pathways to employment by using real, wage-paying jobs subsidized in whole or in part by government funds.
Such jobs have many names – subsidized employment, transitional jobs, publicly funded jobs, and job guarantees. These approaches share a common goal that the government can and should do more to help struggling workers find quality employment.
The evidence for these employment strategies is clear: government-funded jobs work for workers, families, and entire communities by:
- Getting people back to work who otherwise would not be working.
- Putting money in the pockets of individuals who need it the most. The money workers earn from subsidized employment directly stimulates local economies and businesses.
- Helping revitalize communities, boost employers’ bottom line, and increase local and state tax revenue.
- Providing a range of additional benefits. These jobs can reduce recidivism among people returning from incarceration, have a positive impact on children’s educational outcomes, improve psychological well-being, and reduce housing instability.
In the wake of the pandemic, we need programs like these more than ever. Workers of color, women, those impacted by the criminal legal system, and youth have experienced larger job losses and less hiring than white workers and are disproportionately experiencing joblessness today. Long before the pandemic, many of these workers were unemployed and underemployed.
Without direct action by the federal government—including investments in subsidized employment at the scope, scale, and duration necessary to meet current needs—similar labor market failings that plagued the last recovery after the Great Recession will resurface. For instance, the long-term unemployed will struggle to secure jobs and many will give up looking; private sector job growth will be uneven; unemployment and under-employment among Black and Brown workers and groups with intersectional identities will remain elevated; and income and wealth gaps will continue to widen.
To address these issues, several national organizations are partnering to push forward a federal commitment to these strategies as part of advancing an equitable economic recovery and paving the way toward economic justice.
An estimated 22 million workers have been directly harmed by the COVID recession.
In May 2021, unemployment among Black workers hovered over 9%, and the rate was over 7% for Hispanic workers. This is higher than the unemployment rate among white workers, which has hovered at 5%.
About 2 million fewer women are in the workforce than before the pandemic.
Unemployment among Black teenagers is a whopping 35%. Millions of workers want to work but can’t find a job.
The U.S. has 7.6 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.