REPORT GovernmentUS

The Rollback of Worker Protections and the Culture of Long Hours Leave Our Economy More Vulnerable to the Next Recession

September 2019, Dean Baker

This paper was done in partnership with Groundwork Collaborative.

While the timing and causes of the next recession are unclear at this point, we can be certain that we will see another recession, and probably in the not too distant future. Past recessions have been catastrophic events for millions of workers and their families, as job loss deprives people of income. This often results in the loss of homes and in many cases leads to homelessness and family breakups. We can and should look for ways to make recessions shorter and milder, but most immediately we should look to protect workers from the hardships associated with unemployment.

Mass unemployment is not the inexorable effect of the business cycle — in fact, Germany weathered the great recession without it — but protecting workers requires policies that empower them, and programs that discourage layoffs and support employers who keep workers on payroll.

This report looks at work sharing, a common policy in other countries, that could protect American workers from mass unemployment if fully implemented before the next recession.

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