Direct Job Creation
IN THE AREA of labor-market policy, the 1970s have seen a major redirection of policy away from programs designed to change the productivity of individual workers and toward direct job-creation policies. By fiscal year 1980, nearly $4 billion was obligated for direct job-creation efforts, three-fourths of it for public-sector job creation. This outlay reflects a major change of emphasis from the earlier training-education placement efforts in the manpower field, and the expansion of income-support policy in the transfer program area. The effort to directly provide jobs to the unemployed would appear to reflect dissatisfaction, perhaps frustration, with policies to increase income and employment via increasing earnings capacity, and to maintain the income of those for whom work is unavailable. This increase in the direct provision of jobs can be viewed as the first serious step to implement the Full Employment Act of 1946 and to move the United States toward a full employment-guaranteed job economy. Support for direct jobcreation measures is not unrelated to that motivation driving the HumphreyHawkins bill and the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978, which emerged.
Direct public provision of jobs is a relatively unorthodox venture for the market-oriented U.S. economy. It represents an admission that the current structure of the market economy, despite aggregate monetary and fiscal measures, is unable to secure adequate economic performance. Support for direct public-job provision comes in part from a belief that this instrument can reduce some of the current constraints on labor-market performance. It is by improving this performance that direct job creation holds promise as