March 2009, Dean Baker
Economists are increasingly coming to the recognition that the current downturn is likely to be longer and more severe than they had expected at the time the last stimulus package was approved in February. As a result, there is likely to be interest in additional stimulus in order to boost the economy and lower the unemployment rate.
This paper briefly outlines a method for Congress to quickly boost demand in the economy, while at the same time promoting important public ends: an employer tax credit for paid time off. This paid time off can take the form of paid family leave, paid sick days, paid vacation, or a shorter workweek. This tax credit can both provide short-term stimulus and also provide an incentive to restructure workplaces in ways that are more family friendly. It is possible that many workplaces may leave in place changes made to take advantage of this tax credit even after it has expired.
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