Dec 11 2012

Political Economist Robert Pollin Makes the Case for Full Employment

Labor Department statistics released last Friday show slight improvement in the economic outlook for the month of November with 146,000 new jobs created. The official rate of unemployment, which does not include those who have given up looking for work, fell two tenths of a percent, from 7.9 to 7.7 percent. The total rate of unemployment consequently fell to 14.4%.

While the effects of Superstorm Sandy on these statistics have been hotly debated by economists, few economists tend to discuss the standard paradigm of job creation in the US overall. Now more than 4 years into a devastating recession, the idea of “full employment” as implemented by the federal government, has yet to re-enter the punditry’s list of talking points.

One political economist and author, Robert Pollin, aims to insert the topic into the dialogue around unemployment and the economy with his new book, simply titled “Back to Full Employment.” Drawing back to the 1930s era of the Great Depression and the response by FDR’s administration, Pollin makes the case that not only is it possible for the government to achieve full employment in the nation, but that it is a moral imperative.

Pollin also traces how the principles of Keynesian economics whose central goal was full employment, have given way to the neoliberal economic model espoused by market fundamentalists over the past 20 years. In his view, the goal of building a new, green infrastructure nationwide can bring the US closer than ever to the task of employment for all, or nearly all.

GUEST: Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of Back to Full Employment. His earlier book is Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity

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