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Why we need a jobs guarantee

These numbers are horrific:

Commencement is supposed to be filled with hope, but for the class of 2010, these are grim times. Over the past year, the unemployment rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.1 percent. For the roughly half of high school graduates under 25 and not in college, the average is 22.8 percent.

Worse, a deep labor recession, like this one, may be more than a temporary hardship. It could signal a long-term decline in living standards — downward mobility. ...

Tough times for college grads mean even tougher times for high school graduates, because fewer jobs mean more competition from college-educated workers. In the past year, 59.5 percent of young high school grads on average had a job, compared with 70.2 percent in 2007.

Meanwhile, the unemployment extension -- which our tribunes of the people on the Hill may, or may not, pass before the Memorial Day recess -- throws the 99-ers under the bus. Thanks, "progressives"!

Why not a jobs guarantee? Why not give everybody who's willing and able to work a job? Is there no work to be done?

As I've written:

Why is it that we see unemployment as the worker's fault, and not as a market failure? Look around you, and you'll see everywhere jobs that need to be done: Infrastructure, tons of it. Weatherizing. Teaching. Growing food. Taking care of elders. And on and on and on. Not make work jobs, but real jobs. So why not put people to work doing them?

Everybody who is willing and able to work should have a job at the minimum wage. With single payer health insurance, eh?

Would would a Jobs Guarantee cost anywhere near the money we guaranteed to the To Big To Fail banksters? Of course not. Would it cost as much as one of the wars? Of course not. And in rebuilding the country's infrastructure, and making so many people who aren't working productive, the program would more than pay for itself -- just as FDR's WPA programs did, during the last great depression.

We can afford a Jobs Guarantee. It's worth it. So why isn't a Jobs Guarantee on the table?

NOTE See the Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In site for the economic ideas behind this policy.

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