5 Big Ideas in Inequality: Good Jobs - V


03:34 | Idea 1 - Timothy J. Bartik
11:33 | Idea 2 - Zeynep Ton
20:35 | Idea 3 - William A. Darity Jr.
26:17 | Idea 4 - Charles F. Sabel
34:53 | Q&A    - Dani Rodrik




Timothy J. BartikIDEA 1

We need to bring more good jobs to places of job distress

Do this through public services that enhance local business inputs, rather than business tax incentives

Timothy J. Bartik
Senior Economist
W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Timothy J. Bartik

"There are two problems with business tax incentives as a way to help distressed local labor markets: They are not at all targeted at distressed areas. Because these incentives in many cases go to firms that were located there anyway, the cost per job created is quite high—around $200,000 per job created.

[We] can do a lot better through public services to enhance the quality of local business inputs...closer to $50,000 per job created."

View text and slides »

For further reading

Bartik, Timothy J. 2020. "Broadening Place-Based Jobs Policies: How to Both Target Job Creation and Broaden its Reach." Policy Paper No. 2020-024. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 


Zeynep TonIDEA 2

How to turn low-wage jobs into good jobs
Why it matters and how to get there

Zeynep Ton
Professor of the Practice
MIT Sloan School of Management

Zeynep Ton - Vicious cycle slide

"Since March, we started calling workers who supply our food, take care of our elderly, clean our hospitals, and sell us groceries essential workers.  

We call them essential because they are essential to the functioning of our economy. Yet you wouldn't know they were, looking at their wages, because many earn below subsistence wages.

The vicious cycle that low-wage workers find themselves in [low wages, unstable hours and incomes, limited upward mobility]...is a big problem for our economy because in 2019, 46.5 million Americans—almost one-third of the workforce—worked in occupations where the median wage was less than $15 an hour. 

What's as bad is that a lot of the job growth is expected to come from low-wage sectors—occupations like health aides, cleaning services, and labor occupations."


William A. Darity Jr.IDEA 3

A federal job guarantee

William A. Darity Jr.
Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics
Duke University

"The coronavirus has brought the US economy to the brink of economic collapse, and the CARES Act provided only temporary relief. Sustained national economic health requires a plan to give unemployed workers an opportunity to support themselves and their families with dignity. This is not something that is occurring in the present moment.

We need to make permanent and universal the types of federal jobs programs that were inaugurated during the course of the Great Depression, particularly, as an example, the Works Progress Administration."


Charles F. SabelIDEA 4

Dynamic governance arrangements to build a good jobs economy

Charles F. Sabel
Maurice T. Moore Professor of Law and Social Science
Columbia Law School

"We aim to address this productively, through an actual restructuring of the economy. Many of the current efforts to address this set of problems focus on one form of redistribution or another. . . It's not that we think that none of this matters—we think that no solution that looks completely away from these deep questions of injustice and exclusion can possibly work in long run.

But we also believe deeply that without access to good jobs, middle class jobs—meaning a restructuring of the economy that provides those jobs as a matter of business course and not as an exceptional grant—that the constitutional problem [the development of political movements that threaten foundations of democracy] can't be addressed."

For further reading

Rodrik, Dani and Charles F. Sabel. "Building a Good Jobs Economy." In Political Economy and Justice, edited by Danielle Allen, Yochai Benkler, and Rebecca Henderson. University of Chicago Press. Forthcoming.


Dani Rodrik

Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy
Harvard Kennedy School

"I think this is absolutely an essential element of thinking about inequality. There are various ways in which we can address inequality, and often we focus on redistribution and transfers and the provision of social insurance as key elements of that. 

But I think if you want to pull people out of poverty and create a broad and wide middle class, it's absolutely essential to give people access and opportunity to good middle class jobs as well. It's only by creating productive employment opportunities that we can sustainably create better and fairer societies.

For further reading

How Biden Can Create Good Jobs
By Dani Rodrik. Project Syndicate (December 8, 2020).