Jobs Programs for Modern Times

I hope that all readers have been doing well during these challenging times. In this post I will explain why I believe the country would benefit from being able to rapidly create large numbers of temporary remote jobs that are well matched to the skills of unemployed workers who need work. [1][2]

The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the fact that millions of domestic jobs require workers to physically leave their homes to earn a living. Even with the massive job market turmoil so far, it is still unknown how the crisis will ultimately affect the job market in the long run. As a result of this, Congress should consider preparing to be able to fund the creation of temporary jobs for unemployed remote workers, just in case they are needed either in the near or long term. These emergency jobs should ideally help workers to maintain some workplace skills while safely doing useful tasks for society that provide them with reasonable incomes. Congress may also be able to build on an existing bill like the “Jobs for All Act” (H.R. 1000) to facilitate them. [3][4]

To create these jobs, the government would first ask a group of capable universities and companies to individually propose socially useful projects that can temporarily hire hundreds to thousands of unemployed remote workers, while utilizing their specific skills as closely as possible. It would then fund a select group of high quality proposals, or “jobs programs,” enabling the universities or companies with winning proposals to remotely hire these workers as full time employees. It would also fund the cost of computers and broadband access for hired workers who need them.

These jobs programs would be structured to produce a work product that is either immediately valuable to society, particularly including the private sector, or very likely to be valuable at a later date. Additionally, the long term value to society that the jobs programs provide should go far beyond their potential benefit to any one university or company.

For example, a movie studio might propose hiring one thousand unemployed artists for one month to write new popular screenplays and musical scores for them. [5][6] Alternately, a car manufacturer might propose hiring one thousand unemployed cab drivers for two months to help enhance its car safety systems using driving simulation software. In a more forward looking example, a private space company might propose hiring one thousand unemployed miners for three months to work on simulated asteroid mining scenarios that generate insights for future missions.

In all cases the government would be sponsoring socially beneficial R&D that is primarily driven by skilled workers doing what they do best, resulting in a new knowledge resource for society. [7] As an example of how this might work, a university or company that runs such a jobs program might be given six months after completion of the program to formally present the results to the government in report format, keeping the names of any program participants anonymous as needed. These results could then be released into the public domain six months after this, giving the public access to the valuable new knowledge resource in a year’s time. [8]

Job Creation Diagram

FIG. 1: The proposed emergency job creation approach would be structured to benefit all of society in the long run, and not just the entities that run the jobs programs

Continue reading