Jobs and the Economy

The Covid economic crisis has greatly magnified the pre-existing crises of employment and small business survival. In this moment that demands bold thinking our economic policy response should go beyond traditional short-term stimulus and embrace lasting structural change that permanently improves expectations.

Public service employment

It is tragic that we accept unemployment and the suffering that it causes when so much important work is not being done. Rep. Pressley has introduced H.Res.145, a resolution “to create a Federal job guarantee … to finally eliminate the moral and economic scourge of involuntary unemployment”. Only the federal government has the financial capacity to truly guarantee employment, but a sizable standing City jobs program is feasible and would have tremendous benefits. If designed to be compatible with H.Res.145, such a program could set an example to build support for the federal program, and could rapidly scale up to a full guarantee when federal funding becomes available.

In that light, let’s create a new City agency to provide basic fixed wage public service jobs with full benefits. These will be new jobs providing either new services or expanded access to existing services; they do not replace the City’s professional staff. There will be a wide variety of services, managed by the appropriate agencies - for example, green initiatives under DEP or arts projects under DCLA. The number of jobs created depends on the funding; a $1 billion program, for example, could employ around 25,000 residents.

Read the full proposal (pdf).

Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA)

This vital legislation would give commercial tenants the right to 10-year lease renewals, with arbitration when landlord and tenant can’t agree on terms. The real estate industry and their allies have been blocking this bill since 1986, but the long wait may soon be over. Even before Covid the rent burden for small businesses was becoming untenable in many parts of the city, and today the need to create long-term stability for small business owners is undeniable. This is a top priority.

Start the first public bank in NYC

Senate Bill S1762 would create a regulatory framework for cities and towns in New York State to establish public banks. A public bank can serve underbanked communities and promote local development in ways that private banks can’t or won’t. And it would help the budget by returning profits to the city’s general fund and lowering the city’s borrowing costs. We should organize constituents and help whip support for this bill in Albany and, once it passes, move quickly to establish the first public bank in New York City.

Municipal broadband

In New York City, 29% of households don’t have access to broadband internet. In the digital age, that presents a massive barrier to basic human necessities, such as education and healthcare. The city can no longer rely on private companies to meet the needs of its citizens and instead should provide broadband as a utility for all New York City residents through a public agency which will ensure universality, quality of service, and affordability.

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