Today, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) each introduced legislation to ensure that every jobless worker in the country is given the opportunity to earn a living.
Despite the low official unemployment rate, 8 million Americans who want work cannot find jobs. Meanwhile, nearly 4.7 million Americans who want full-time work can only find part-time jobs. Reps. Watson Coleman and Khanna have each introduced legislation that would take real action in getting more Americans into jobs that will give them access to the middle class.
Introduced by Rep. Watson Coleman, The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018, H.R. 6467, creates a pilot program within the Department of Labor to test the impact of a federal job guarantee in 15 high-unemployment communities across the country. Within these test sites, any adult resident seeking employment would be matched with a job in an understaffed field, including senior- and childcare, infrastructure, and community revitalization, infusing resources that will improve American communities while increasing access to jobs.
“Working to help your family succeed, working to get ahead financially, working to build your own version of the American dream is a foundational element of our national values. But it requires the chance to work, and for many people, that chance is out of reach,” said Watson Coleman. “This measure would build economic security for working families and grow our country’s middle class, while placing workers in industries with real need and filling obvious employment gaps. Elected officials often talk a big game about job creation — this bill is about walking the walk and putting people back to work.”
The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018 is a House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). Jobs created through the program will include a minimum wage phased to $15/hour, paid family and sick leave, and health coverage like that enjoyed by Members of Congress. The bill also expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize private employers to recruit and hire participants out of the pilot program.
Introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna, the Job Opportunities for All Act provides federal funding to put people to work immediately in both the public and the private sector. It seeks to fulfill its namesake’s call for the “right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation” – the first component of President Roosevelt’s visionary Economic Bill of Rights.
“In the richest country on earth, no one should be denied the opportunity to earn a living. 75 years after President Roosevelt recognized this fundamental right, it is time to act. This pragmatic and comprehensive legislation will accomplish his vision. The bill provides the tools to get our people back to work, whether one is laid off due to a factory closing, is a victim of racial discrimination, or has faced a long battle with homelessness,” said Rep. Khanna.
The Job Opportunities for All Act would appropriate funds for the Department of Labor to administer competitive grant programs for the hardest hit communities, and matching funds to states that invest in direct job creation proposals. Funding may be used for wraparound services that help the most vulnerable jobseekers overcome barriers to employment, or for training aimed at achieving an industry-recognized credential.
The legislation builds on the success of 40 years of subsidized jobs programs, including President Obama’s Recovery Act TANF Emergency Fund, which placed 260,000 at-risk individuals into jobs at the height of the Great Recession, as well as successful programs in Europe.
The bill prioritizes state and local efforts that focus ending the longstanding racial unemployment gap, as well as targeting areas afflicted by the opioid crisis – an epidemic that has been linked to joblessness. Unionized workplaces are given additional incentives to bring in new employees.