Job Quality During Economic Recovery
Writing in The Nation, 32BJ’s Mike Fishman and NELP’s Paul Sonn argue that even, perhaps especially, during a period of economic recovery policymakers must pay attention not only to the number of jobs created but also to the quality of those jobs. Pittsburgh, the two argue, has done just that with a recent city ordinance requiring that recipients of economic development subsidies and firms contracting with the city pay their employees the prevailing wage. They write:
Tired of seeing its residents struggle to get by with low wage work and frustrated by the lackluster impact of other remedies to get the economy moving, Pittsburgh has stepped up with a new approach for creating good jobs. Rather than hoping the tax breaks and subsidies the city uses to help jump-start economic development will trickle down to the community, the city council passed a law to ensure the jobs created with these tax dollars will pay family-sustaining wages. In doing so, the new city-wide measure will help boost consumer spending in the local economy and move workers and their families off of public assistance for food, housing and health care.
The Drum Major Institute will highlight Pittsburgh’s policy at next week’s Marketplace of Ideas event on using economic development to create good jobs. The event, like the article, serves as a reminder that even in a period of economic recovery – and especially at a time when the Great Recession has drawn the media’s attention to the sheer number of jobs lost and gained – the quality of jobs matters, particularly when city funds are utilized to create these jobs.