Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Q. What is the chance of getting a job at my regular trade?From the WPA Workers' Handbook. Media Matters is wondering how building a community wave pool doesn't create jobs. Russ Roberts explains:
A. If you are not working at your regular trade on the project, it is probably because there are no jobs open for your particular trade. This is one of the toughest problems the Work Program has had to meet, because the Government projects don't call for many different trades. Many skilled workers have to take common labor jobs. For example, it is impossible to hire skilled miners, skilled tailors, and skilled weavers on Government projects. The Work Program does not have projects like these, because they would interfere with private business. You should file an application at the National Reemployment Service office for work at the trade you know. They will let you know if they get a call for a man of your experience.
The idea isn't just to employ people. The idea is to employ more people than we're employing now. That's the claim of stimulus. It's not enough to spend money. It's not enough to hire people. The claim of President Obama and Brad DeLong and others is that by spending money, other things that wouldn't otherwise have happened, will happen.In 1936 there were many more unskilled labor jobs available than will be now.
Yes, constructing a pool requires workers. But if workers who know how to build a swimming pool are already fully employed or close to it, then building a community wave pool is just going to drive up the wages of construction workers. Those higher wages discourage people from building a pool in their back yard or paving their driveway. If that's the case, then NO JOBS GET CREATED. Jobs get moved around from the private sector to the public sector. But there's no net job creation. The word "net" in the previous phrase is really redundant. Job creation really is about net jobs not gross jobs.