Work-from-home benefits include saving money on commuting, and more time spent with family. But it’s not all good news: many people find working from home to be a lonely and frustrating experience.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring Americans have access to quality jobs and careers that pay prevailing wages, including opportunities for those with non-college degrees. This involves supporting partnerships between community colleges, unions, and employers.

1. Invest in the Public Workforce System

The public workforce system was created to consolidate federally supported employment programs and offer a holistic, user-friendly set of services. But it has fallen far short of its potential to achieve full employment and eliminate working poverty.

The federal government can help revitalize the local workforce systems by adding new funding to support partnerships between job training providers and community organizations that serve the needs of jobseekers. For example, a grant program could help community colleges connect with local businesses to identify their hiring needs and create training programs that address those specific needs.

Another way to strengthen the public workforce system is to encourage employers to use it to meet their talent needs by creating a system of employer incentives. This could include wage subsidies to entice employers to hire people who otherwise might not be available or a tax credit that enables them to invest in worker training. This would help combat the perception that the workforce system is insufficiently business-friendly.

2. Subsidize Private-Sector Employers to Hire Unemployed Workers

With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in record levels of unemployment and many people finding themselves disconnected from the labor force, it’s time for a new federal jobs strategy. Fortunately, many existing government programs can help put people back to work.

Subsidized employment, in which the government pays a portion of workers’ wages, is one such solution. It’s been successfully used by government agencies, nonprofits, and social enterprises for decades and has proven to be a robust tool for connecting people with barriers to employment to jobs that improve their long-term job prospects.

A national subsidized employment program would require private employers to take a low-risk chance on a group of workers who are unlikely to find jobs on their own. But, ensuring that these workers are placed in good-paying jobs news is crucial to their success and to making the program a viable option for private businesses. The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan includes a call for this type of job-matching program.

3. Hire Temporary Workers for the 2020 Decennial Census

Every decade, the government hires temporary workers to conduct what it calls in person count, going door-to-door following up on households that do not respond online, by phone or by mail to census questionnaires sent earlier in the year. This work requires a significant number of people, but it has been difficult this year for the Census Bureau to find enough qualified applicants given a national unemployment rate near a half-century low.

This short-term field operation has a dynamic staffing level that can cause large fluctuations in monthly employment data, as measured by the Current Employment Statistics survey. See EPI’s Beyond the Numbers for more.

A targeted program to boost workforce participation in this way could help address persistently high unemployment rates in specific geographic areas while also strengthening the overall labor market. In addition, such an effort would provide a countervailing force against the erosion of worker leverage in the labor market. This is an example of why a comprehensive agenda to increase working families’ pay and employment security is necessary.

4. Create a Public Option for Employment

Creating jobs that pay decent wages, offer meaningful work experiences, and have a clear path to advancement is an essential goal for the government to pursue. This can be done through a number of strategies, including providing training and education, offering wage subsidies for workers to attract employers, and supporting child care and other job supports.

Government investments can also help iron out community disparities in unemployment rates by targeting infrastructure projects that would bolster job demand in high-unemployment communities. This approach could be an alternative to monetary policy stimulus, and one that can have a positive impact even when economic growth is healthy.

As Franklin Roosevelt discovered when he took office in 1933, there is a need to match America’s job seekers with job demand on fair and nonexploitative terms. A public option for employment, updated to the “Uberization of work” today, can do this by combining unprecedented federal stimulus with new metrics and incentives for local workforce agencies.

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