In a New York Times column, Yale’s Robert Shiller calls for a federal effort to battle unemployment by creating precisely the kind of socially beneficial jobs that some Levy Institute scholars have been recommending:
Why not use government policy to directly create jobs — labor-intensive service jobs in fields like education, public health and safety, urban infrastructure maintenance, youth programs, elder care, conservation, arts and letters, and scientific research?
For deficit hawks, Shiller notes that the cost would be modest:
Big new programs to create jobs need not be expensive. Suppose the cost of hiring a single employee were as high as $30,000 a year, several times typical AmeriCorps living allowances. Hiring a million people would cost $30 billion a year. That’s only 4 percent of the entire federal stimulus program, and 0.2 percent of the national debt.
You can read more on this blog about the ideas of Levy scholars along these lines, or you can cut to the chase and read a Levy Policy Brief on this very subject for yourself. Another related Levy publication, this one a Policy Note on job creation and the lessons of the New Deal, is available here.