Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00

The Full Employment Act at 35: America's Unfinished Business

Written by Rep. John Conyers, Dean, Congressional Black Caucus | Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee | Huffington Post

For the first time since the start of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate is below 6 percent. America has experienced 55 consecutive months of net job creation, resulting in the addition of 10.3 million new jobs.

Look beneath these surface-level statistics, however, and you'll still find massive unused human potential and unnecessary suffering. Nearly 19 million people across the nation are still searching for full-time work. The unemployment rates for African-Americans and young Americans remain in the double digits. The percentage of Americans in the workforce remains below pre-recession levels because millions of people who want jobs have become too discouraged to continue to seek employment. If these jobless Americans were counted in official statistics, the unemployment rate would be upwards of 9.6 percent.

The federal government has not only a moral obligation to address the ongoing jobs crisis -- it has a legal mandate. Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, a law that requires federal policies to be directed toward the attainment of full employment. The law is in effect today, yet Congress continues to shirk its responsibilities to ensure that people are working.

The Humphrey-Hawkins Act, named after the law's authors, the late Senator Hubert Humphrey and the late Representative Augustus Hawkins, was a turning point in American public policy because it first established the principle that the federal government should serve as an "employer of last resort." The bill set specific targets for employment and authorized the use of a broad range of fiscal and monetary tools to achieve them.

While private sector hiring is the ideal, the Humphrey-Hawkins Act commits the government to step in when workers are idle and public needs -- like roads, schools, bridges, health centers, and scientific research -- go unmet. The cost of inaction is simply too great: unemployment means serious damage to Americans' health (by causing anxiety and lost insurance coverage), homes and neighborhoods (through foreclosures and increased crime), and lifelong career prospects (because of atrophied skills and discrimination against the long-term unemployed). When we create jobs -- whether through private investment or federal action--businesses have more customers able to buy more goods and services and the overall economy prospers. When there are more jobs available, lower-income and moderate-income workers can bargain for higher wages.

There are cost-effective policies Congress should pass right now to live up to the law it passed 35 years ago. Specifically, Congress should pass the new 21st-century Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act (H.R. 1000) to create the means to hire people to make necessary upgrades to our infrastructure, healthcare, and education systems. Another excellent option is the updated and upgraded version of President Obama's American Jobs Act (H.R. 2821). Even if Republican leadership disagrees with these proposals to put Americans back to work, they should show respect for the suffering of unemployed Americans and their families by allowing them to receive a fair up-or-down vote.

If the Republican-controlled Congress continues to obstruct critical job creation initiatives, President Obama should build on his "year of action" to use the authority granted to him by the Humphrey-Hawkins Act to promote action for the unemployed wherever possible. I stand ready to assist President Obama in building Congressional support for an agenda that fulfills the promise of Humphrey-Hawkins.

Thirty-five years after the enactment of the Full Employment law, America remains far from the realizing the vision of a Full Employment society. We have both a moral obligation and a legal mandate to get to work.

 

Link to original article from The Huffington Post

Read 7756 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 October 2014 20:30

Latest News

  • Repealing the Jim Crow law that keeps 1.5 million Floridians from voting. +

    Repealing the Jim Crow law that keeps 1.5 million Floridians from voting. A seismic political battle that could send shockwaves all the way to the White House was launched last week in Read More
  • Nuclear Weapons: Who Pays, Who Profits? +

    Nuclear Weapons: Who Pays, Who Profits? In an interview with Reuters conducted a month after he took office, Donald Trump asserted that the U.S. had “fallen Read More
  • Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy +

    Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed Read More
  • Bush’s Iraq Lies, Uncontested, Will Haunt Us Under Trump +

    Bush’s Iraq Lies, Uncontested, Will Haunt Us Under Trump The CODEPINK Tribunal taking place December 1 and 2, and live streamed by The Real News, is a historic collection of testimonies about the lies Read More
  • The System IS Rigged!—The Electoral College and the 2016 Election +

    The System IS Rigged!—The Electoral College and the 2016 Election Donald Trump was right: the system is rigged! But it is rigged for the Republicans, not the Democrats, for conservatives, Read More
  • 1

Jobs for All Videos



Featured Jobs for All News

  • The Era of Outsourcing is Over +

    The Era of Outsourcing is Over During the campaign, Donald Trump made a 100 percent commitment to prevent United Technologies from shipping 2,100 jobs from Indiana Read More
  • A Subsidized Jobs Program for the 21st Century +

    A Subsidized Jobs Program for the 21st Century Unlocking Labor-Market Opportunities for All Who Seek Work Read More
  • Federal mediator to help resolve West Coast port contract dispute +

    Federal mediator to help resolve West Coast port contract dispute West Coast dockworkers and their shipping line employers have agreed to federal mediation to help resolve a contract dispute that Read More
  • The Answer to the Unemployment Problem Is More Jobs +

    The Answer to the Unemployment Problem Is More Jobs Dean Baker, everyone’s favorite progressive economist (mine, too), has an interesting take on our unemployment problem. Give more paid vacations. Read More
  • Full employment: The recovery’s missing ingredient +

    Full employment: The recovery’s missing ingredient Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen gave a speech a few weeks ago that was doubly unusual. Read More
  • Young people's voice needed in building an infrastructure of opportunity +

    Young people's voice needed in building an infrastructure of opportunity This week the Durham, North Carolina-based nonprofit MDC released its latest State of the South report highlighting how the American Read More
  • The Full Employment Act at 35: America's Unfinished Business +

    The Full Employment Act at 35: America's Unfinished Business For the first time since the start of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate is below 6 percent. America has Read More
  • The Need for Jobs and Economic Equality +

    The Need for Jobs and Economic Equality Wealth and resources are not infinite; they are finite! Therefore, if some have too much, many others are left with Read More
  • Conyers & Congressional Advocates Announce Creation of Full Employment Caucus +

    Conyers & Congressional Advocates Announce Creation of Full Employment Caucus Today, in response to the ongoing jobs crisis in America, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Charles Rangel Read More
  • 1
  • 2