America’s Ongoing Jobs Emergency: Roosevelt Institute Weighs in on What Obama Should Say on the Road

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Video and transcripts from the Roosevelt Institute's Jobs Emergency conference show that experts believe a stronger government is key to a stronger economy.

Rediscovering Government
Jobs should be the first word out of every policymaker’s mouth in America, and I wish out of the media.

As President Obama embarks on a two-day bus tour of New York and Pennsylvania, he will attempt to refocus the national debate around the economy in order to ward off more damaging budget cuts. But as the Roosevelt Institute made clear at a conference in June, preventatives measures alone will not be enough. Despite economic gains, the U.S. is still experiencing a full-blown jobs emergency. Proceedings from the conference, along with full transcripts and video, are now available online, showcasing insight from experts including Princeton economist Alan Blinder, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

“This is not business as usual. This is a very, very bad job market, and we don’t fully understand it,” said Jeff Madrick, director of the Roosevelt Institute’s Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, which hosted the conference. “Jobs should be the first word out of every policymaker’s mouth in America, and I wish out of the media.”

The conference, entitled “A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency: Setting the Political Agenda for 2014 and 2016,” brought together a diverse array of activists, thinkers, and policymakers to explore not just how to create more jobs in the U.S. but how to improve job quality. While many different approaches were considered, the overarching theme was that a more active and effective government is needed to create new and better economic opportunities.

In his keynote address, Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, reminded listeners, “We know what full employment looks like, feels like. It is not an impossible dream… The way to create jobs without spending a budgetary nickel is monetary policy.” But, he added, “The Federal Reserve has gone almost as far as they can go. That’s why they’re now talking about fiscal policy.”

Maya Wiley, president and founder of the Center for Social Inclusion, spoke about the need for increased social spending. “In the past, to make life better and make our economy work, we invested, our leaders invested in schools and universities. We invested in buses and subways and highways. We invested in the retirement and health care for our parents and grandparents. Now, more than ever, we need to renew these investments. Our leaders are currently slashing these programs.”

The Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative will continue to examine the jobs emergency through an ongoing series of road shows, including an event in New Orleans today, where Madrick and leaders from local organizations will discuss strategies to address the city’s high rate of youth unemployment. As the austerity debate once again heats up, the initiative plans to provide these and other resources to help define the problem and potential solutions to the jobs emergency.

Click here to view the video and transcripts.

About the Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute is an ideas and leadership organization founded in the belief that America should offer opportunity to all. To develop a new social contract for the 21st century, we advance the work of progressive economists and social policy thinkers and support an emerging generation of leaders as they design solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues.

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Tim Price
@rooseveltinst
since: 09/2009
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