Nearly half of all Americans would be in favor of a universal government job creation program, according to a poll commissioned by the Huffington Post. Out of nearly 1,000 polled respondents, 47% would either somewhat support or strongly support “a law guaranteeing a job to every American adult, with the government providing jobs for people who can’t ﬁnd employment in the private.”
The Huffington Post commissioned the poll in response to a January 3 Rolling Stone piece called “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” The article, written by freelance journalist Jesse Myerson, suggested that millennials should demand “guaranteed work for everybody,” funded by the federal government.
“Unemployment blows,” wrote Myerson. “The easiest and most direct solution is for the government to guarantee that everyone who wants to contribute productively to society is able to earn a decent living in the public sector.”
Although conservative news outlets mocked the proposal, the Huffington Post poll suggests a broad base of support for government-subsidized full employment. Such a policy has never been attempted before, but advocates of the job guarantee say that similar government job creation programs have reduced poverty and led to economic growth in countries like Argentina and India. In fact, extreme poverty fell by 25% when a government job creation program was attempted in Argentina, according to Bard College economist Pavlina Tcherneva.
Duke University public policy professor William Darity Jr. has argued that a job guarantee would reduce poverty in the United States while also ensuring that essential public sector work got done.
“A federal job guarantee at non-poverty wages … for all citizens would enable the nation to meet both its physical and human infrastructure needs,” wrote Darity in a July 2013 New York Times piece. ”Workers under the public service employment system could repair roads and bridges, provide high quality day care services, build and maintain the public schools and rehabilitate our damaged postal system.”
At least one sitting member of Congress is pushing for a similar proposal. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has proposed a so-called “Full Employment and Training Act” which would create a government trust fund to finance job creation.
Respondents to the Huffington Post poll were less sympathetic towards Myerson’s other proposals, which included a universal basic income and the creation of a government-run bank in every single state. Only 35% of respondents favored so-called “Social Security for all,” which would provide a guaranteed income to every U.S. citizen with no strings attached.
“The relative popularity of a job guarantee reflects what we already know: that Americans at large are greatly more concerned about the unemployment crisis than Congress is,” Myerson told msnbc. “The other four ideas are unorthodox and unfamiliar to most people and will require considerable political organizing to become popular demands.”
Myerson discussed his proposals last week on All In with Chris Hayes. Watch below: