Despite jobs being by far the top issue with voters, the Republicans in Congress, in their rush for immediate austerity, have committed themselves to making the unemployment crisis worse. Among the many cuts in the House Republican’s continuing resolution are cuts to “excess spending in Labor Department job training programs” and eliminating funds for AmeriCorps.
With official unemployment above nine percent, cutting jobs training is an action of madness. Even if you don’t believe the employment problem right now is a lack of aggregate demand and not due to structural unemployment like some conservatives claim, the one place you should want the government to be increasing its spending is on jobs training. Quickly training unemployed construction in new skills in other fields would be the fast way to reduce the mismatch in the labor market.
AmeriCorps is one of the country’s most cost effective direct employment programs.
In essence, AmeriCorps provides tens of thousands of young people with extremely low-paying temporary jobs meant to help the community. The low level of compensation and capital spending involved per AmeriCorps member makes it one of the absolute cheapest ways for our government to directly provide employment to people and take them out of the job market.
With those under 25 being one of the groups hardest bit by our current unemployment crisis, cutting a very cheap direct employment program for young people would be an illogical disaster. It would cause tens of thousand of more young people this year to enter an already overly saturated job market that shows no signs of a quick turnaround.
Of all the thousands of things on which the government spends money, among the last things I would think about cutting during an employment crisis would be job training and extremely cost-effective direct employment program for one of the hardest hit demographics. It seems Congressional Republicans have declared a war on jobs in the guise of deficit reduction.