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Sunday, January 17, 2010

News Analysis:The White House Summit Discusses Employment

Margaret Simms

Abstract

In the White House jobs summit this week, policy recommendations to get the unemployed back to work are essential. But for the good of the economy and society, Institute Fellow Margaret Simms argues, a system of policies is needed to both promote immediate employment and create opportunities to advance to better jobs. See our recommended research on employment and work force development.

Commentary

by Margaret Simms, Institute Fellow

Update: President Obama’s Dec. 8th speech on job creation and the economy outlines plans to create jobs through tax incentives and loans for small business, more infrastructure investments, and incentives for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient. If successful, all of these initiatives would create jobs. But they may do little to help the workers and families my commentary focused on. These initiatives need to be coordinated with new training programs that prepare low-wage workers for the jobs the initiatives create. In particular, we need to help women prepare for and get opportunities in expanding job sectors. While the unemployment rate for women has not been as high as that for men, women who maintain families have higher unemployment rates than adult men. Construction and heavy manufacturing jobs may help men regain jobs, but not women-- unless employment in these sectors is opened to them as part of the initiative. The alternative is to develop new jobs in fields where women are already employed.

When President Obama holds his job summit on December 3rd, participants must address a broad range of employment issues. Policy recommendations that address the most immediate need—how to get those currently unemployed back to work—are essential. But, for the good of the economy and society, a system of policies is needed that both promotes immediate employment and creates opportunities for individuals to advance to better jobs so they can better support their families and contribute to economic growth.

If the president and his advisors hope to accelerate job expansion and improve job prospects for all workers, they will need to come up with a multipronged strategy—immediate employment for the most job ready, education and training for those who need enhanced job skills to obtain and retain quality jobs, income supports to enable families to survive extended periods of unemployment, and work supports to facilitate their re-employment.

Click here to read part 2 of this article

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