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  • PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

  • There's a debate of sorts amongst economists and policymakers what's the real cause of

  • the sustained, long-term high unemployment. Well, some people argue that it's because

  • of lack of training. It's lack of mobility--people aren't willing to move to different parts

  • of the country where the jobs are. It's because of new technology, and people's skill set

  • don't meet that new technology. And President Obama more or less articulated that in his

  • State of the Union speech, where he called for more job training and such.

  • But there's another argument that goes, no, it's because people don't have enough money

  • to buy stuff; there's not enough demand.

  • Now joining us to talk about this debate and give his point of view on it is Jesse Rothstein.

  • He's an associate professor of public policy and economics at Berkeley. He spent 2009 and

  • 2010 first of all as a senior economist at the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, and

  • then as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • Thanks very much for joining us, Jesse.

  • JESSE ROTHSTEIN: Thank you for having me.

  • JAY: So the argument is, you know, yes, there's cyclical unemployment, but why there's such

  • long-term high unemployment now and not what we would normally see as cyclical--in other

  • words, you start seeing recoveries in the stock market and you see some growth in the

  • economy. In theory, cyclically, some people say, unemployment would be coming down more

  • than it is. But there's more structural stuff, as I mentioned, people's skill sets and such.

  • What do you make of the argument?

  • ROTHSTEIN: So people are arguing, basically, that the demand would be there, but that the

  • problem is that there aren't enough workers there to fill the demand. And so you can find

  • some evidence of employers who say they're having trouble finding workers to fill their

  • jobs, and you can point to that and say, well, it must be that there aren't workers to fill

  • the jobs that are available, and if only we had workers with the right skills in the right

  • places, we would be able to--we would be back to a high-performing economy.

  • I don't make much of that argument. I think the main problem is that there aren't enough

  • people who want to hire workers, there's not enough demand in the economy.

  • JAY: Okay. So what's your evidence? Let's go through some of the different arguments.

  • Like, the big one is that, you know, workers aren't skilled enough, that there's lack of

  • skilled labor and such. So what do you make of that?

  • ROTHSTEIN: There are a couple of different versions of the labor supply story. One is,

  • as you said, skills that are--somehow the economy has changed, and we need more highly

  • skilled workers. Workers' skills haven't kept up with the needs of the economy. Another

  • version is geographic, that the jobs are showing up in some places, and the workers are in

  • other places, and they're not willing to move to where the jobs are, perhaps because they're

  • stuck with underwater mortgages or something like that. And then a third version is what

  • Paul Krugman has called the great vacation hypothesis, that workers have just decided

  • that now is a good time to not work so much and they're not really interested in working,

  • and while it looks like they're unemployed, in fact it's voluntary unemployment.

  • JAY: And this is partly to do because unemployment benefits are long--have been extended, and

  • so people can stay home collecting the pogey.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Yeah, there have been various versions of it, either because unemployment benefits

  • have been extended, or because it's so nice to live on food stamps, or because you're

  • hoping to get mortgage relief and that the only way to get mortgage relief is to have

  • a low family income, or something along these lines.

  • What all of these stories have in common is the claim that there's really a shortage of

  • workers out there, that there's plenty of jobs but not enough workers. And what that

  • claim should imply is that firms should be bidding up wages in order to find workers

  • to fill the job, that there are five employers who all want the same worker, and they're

  • going to start offering more and more money to get the worker. And so what we should be

  • seeing if these stories are true is that workers who do have jobs are seeing their wages go

  • up. And there's really no sign whatsoever of that in the data. And so I see that as

  • prima facie evidence that the problem is not labor supply, the problem is labor demand.

  • JAY: And you can see it from the side of investment, too. Banks don't want to loan money to businesses.

  • I mean, it's not because they don't want to loan money, I wouldn't think; it's 'cause

  • they don't believe the businesses are going to have enough market for increasing their

  • sales.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Exactly. Exactly. And you can see it in the GDP data, that while GDP is recovering,

  • we're still well below the trend of where we should have been. There's still a big cyclical

  • hole that we're in. So while it's been an unusually long time since the recession officially

  • ended, but that's because we've been in a very slow recovery and the economy really

  • has not taken wing and taken off.

  • JAY: I was driving to New York once. I think we were going through New Hampshire and somewhere.

  • We were driving from west to east. And we stopped to have some food. And we met with

  • a guy who's a general manager of a large factory. I think they have about 2,000, 3,000 workers.

  • And he was complaining to me about how they can't hire, and he didn't understand why they

  • weren't able to hire workers in this kind of an economy. And I said, well, what are

  • you paying? And he said, well, we used to pay $14, $15 an hour, but we're down now--I

  • think it was $8.50 for starting. And I said, well, do the math. I mean, if you're collecting--you

  • know, at $8.50, if you take your bus to work and take your bus back, and if you had to

  • pay for daycare and everything, you're probably not even breaking even, especially when you

  • compare what you might get on unemployment insurance, 'cause he was complaining people

  • would rather be on unemployment insurance than take the job. And I said, well, then

  • raise your wages. I mean, why would any reasonable person not sit at home on unemployment insurance?

  • I mean, if you want them, pay more. You can't--you're not going to--if you lower unemployment insurance,

  • you're asking people to starve.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Exactly. So if you want them, pay more, offer the training that you used to

  • offer. Increasingly you're seeing manufacturers who used to pay everybody union wage and have

  • in the last few years extracted concessions from the unions so that the new workers are

  • paid a much lower wage than existing workers. They've gotten rid of training and now demand

  • that workers have specific experience in the field, and they complain that they can't find

  • workers. Well, they're offering a much different deal than they were before, and so it shouldn't

  • be a surprise that nobody wants to take that deal. That doesn't tell you that nobody would

  • take the deals they used to offer.

  • JAY: And so, I mean, your argument is if there was more demand in the economy, they would

  • raise their offer of wages, because they figure they could make more money selling stuff.

  • But it is chicken and egg, isn't it, is that in terms of each individual enterprise, they

  • want to, you know, keep wages as low as possible, and then somehow, magically, the economy's

  • supposed to bounce back, except everybody's trying to keep their wages low as possible.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Right. This is what Keynes called the paradox of thrift, that when everybody

  • wants to cut wages and cut spending, all of a sudden the economy falls apart. And what

  • you need to do--there's a fairly well worked out solution to this--is that you need the

  • government to create some temporary demand, and it does that, and that brings us back

  • to full employment, and then everybody wants to spend money, and that brings the private

  • sector back.

  • JAY: But doesn't it need to be more than that? And what I mean by that is let's say you have

  • some government stimulus--and we did have some stimulus. Some people argue it wasn't

  • enough. But doesn't it--if you want to get to a structural argument--and not the structural

  • argument that people aren't trained well enough and such--but isn't there a structural problem

  • with unions being so weak? You know, workers have lost any--you know, their ability to,

  • you know, fight and have higher wages. So, I mean, eventually the stimuluses kind of

  • wear out, and if you don't deal with this side that wages need to go up in a general

  • way in some mechanism or another--and I don't know what else it would be other than unionization

  • or a significantly higher minimum wage or some combination thereof, but don't you have

  • to do something on that structural side?

  • I mean, President Obama was talking all about, you know, the Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA,

  • in the first couple of years, and then nothing happened when the Democrats did--. Just for

  • people that don't know, EFCA was legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize

  • unorganized workers. In the first two years, where in theory the Democrats could have passed

  • it, they never really advanced it on the congressional agenda. And then, after they lost the House,

  • those words were less and less spoken. And now--I actually just talked the other day

  • to a legislative aide to a senator who does labor policy. She's worked there about a year

  • and a half. She didn't know what EFCA was, meaning the unions have given up even lobbying

  • senators for this legislation.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Right. Right. So I agree that more unionization, higher minimum wage, those would

  • all be very helpful and those would all help to support wages. But at the end of the day

  • I think there's no substitute for full employment, that when the economy is strong and when employers

  • are having trouble finding workers, then they can agree to higher union wages and they can

  • hire workers despite a higher minimum wage, and people's wages rise whether or not there

  • are unions.

  • JAY: So if they make you economic czar tomorrow, what's your plan? What does the stimulus program

  • look like?

  • ROTHSTEIN: The first thing it involves is a lot of aid from the federal government to

  • states, that over the last few years, states have laid off hundreds of thousands of teachers.

  • That subtracts from demand, and it makes us poorer in the future because our students

  • aren't learning as much. And so the first thing you want to do is get back to the pre-recession

  • class sizes and hire back all of the social workers and other people that you've laid

  • off. There's just no excuse for that right now.

  • Second thing you want to do, I would say, is put a lot of money into repairing infrastructure,

  • fix all the bridges that need fixing, fix all of the roads and highways and parks and

  • all of the other things that need fixing. You can think right now that essentially construction

  • labor is on sale. And we know we're going to need it in the next few years, and we should

  • buy it now while it's on sale and get that work done.

  • And then I would be thinking about other broader public employment programs, thinking about

  • trying to ensure that anybody who is actively looking for work and is willing to work can

  • get a job, and make sure there's money in people's pockets so that they can then spend

  • it.

  • JAY: That means direct public works hiring, does it not,--

  • ROTHSTEIN: It does.

  • JAY: --and words which this administration or certainly a Republican administration seem

  • to have no intention of doing.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Right. I agree. There's no--if you don't make me czar and also give me control

  • of the Senate, then I don't know what to do, because I don't know what can get through

  • the Senate that's going to do any good.

  • JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Jesse.

  • ROTHSTEIN: Thank you.

  • JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

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A2 初級

高失業率是由於需求不足,而不是缺乏技能或教育。 (High Unemployment Due to Lack of Demand, Not Lack of Skills or Education)

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    Huang LuLu 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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