Baker and Bernstein show us the routes to much lower levels of unemployment and how this benefits the economy and society as a whole.

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2013
Contact: Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Washington, D.C.- Years after the official end of the Great Recession, millions of Americans still face the bitter realities of unemployment and underemployment. In spite of this, the media and politicians remain fixated on lurching from one manufactured calamity to the next, all while ignoring the real problem: the jobs crisis. In their new book, Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People, Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein make the case that refocusing the debate on jobs and policies that encourage full employment will not only grow the economy, but will lead to lower budget deficits and debt while diminishing our historically high rates of inequality.

As Baker – one of the first economists on record to recognize and warn of the dangers posed by the stock and housing bubbles – and Bernstein – formerly the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden -- point out, it is commonsense that low unemployment is a good thing. But what most may not realize is that high levels of employment will have enormous benefits for the people who already have jobs. Citing evidence from the boom years of the late 1990s, in which the unemployment rate fell as low as 4 percent, the authors show that in times of high employment workers can secure substantial wages gains and a share of the nation’s economic growth. During this period, even workers with the least education at the bottom end of the wage distribution saw a growing share of national income.

Baker and Bernstein do not stop at describing previous periods of full employment. Over the course of the book, they present a picture of a labor market in which full employment is not just an occasional phenomenon, but a cornerstone. They argue that the current course for economic policy will lead to weak labor demand, reduced bargaining power for workers and continued economic inequality. If we instead pursue the  policies they detail -- from monetary and fiscal policy to work sharing and infrastructure investment -- it would have enormous benefits for poverty reduction, the federal budget, equitable economic growth and rising living standards, and would give millions more workers a real chance to get ahead.

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley called Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working Americans, “A gem of a book -- explaining why full employment is so important and how it can be achieved. Mandatory reading for every concerned citizen.”

Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better bargain for Working People is available as a free download or from your local bookseller as a paperback, available for purchase at cost.