A Call for an Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century

by Gregory N. Heires

fdrNearly 70 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed that everyone has the right to a job with decent wage, his message continues to ring true as evidenced by a recent conference at Columbia University on full employment.

The economy of the 21st century remains mired in what seems to be an inescapable funk of unemployment and poorly paying jobs.

The Bush years flew by with a net jobs growth of virtually zero.

Our current employment outlook remains ugly:

• In September, unemployment was 7.3 percent, historically high for a period of recovery,

• Job growth was just 140,000 that month, significantly below what’s needed for a strong recovery,

• Wages have been flat for five years,

• A recent Wells Fargo survey found more than a third of Americans say they will have to work into their 80s because they won’t be able to afford to retire, and

• The labor participation rate—the percentage of people over 16 who either have a job or are seriously looking for one—fell to its lowest rate in 35 years in August. Continue reading