Pavlina Tcherneva, associate professor of economics, teaching at Bard College.
Photo by Pete Mauney ’93 MFA ’00
In the past six months, tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the federal government has provided more than $400 billion in unemployment benefits. According to Bard College economist Pavlina Tcherneva, there’s a more efficient way to get support to those out of work: it would be cheaper, and better all around for job seekers, to ensure across-the-board access to employment rather than unemployment checks. We have two choices, says Tcherneva: to guarantee unemployment or to guarantee employment. Both require spending, but Tcherneva says it’s far less expensive to establish a federal program supplying “basic jobs that folks can take when they need them.” Even while ensuring a minimum wage of $15/hour for more than 11 million Americans, she says, a job guarantee program would cost a fraction of today’s unemployment spending.