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Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People [Kindle Edition]

Dean Baker , Jared Bernstein
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

While most people intuitively know that low unemployment is important to job seekers, they may not realize that high levels of employment actually would make an enormous difference in the lives of large segments of the workforce who already have jobs. Particularly in an era of historically high wage and income inequality, many in the workforce depend on full employment labor markets, and the bargaining power it provides, to secure a fair share of the economy's growth. For the bottom third or even half of the wage distribution, high levels of employment are a necessary condition for improving wages, higher incomes, and better working conditions.

This book is a follow-up to a book written a decade ago by the authors, The Benefits of Full Employment (Economic Policy Institute, 2003). It builds on the evidence presented in that book, showing that real wage growth for workers in the bottom half of the income scale is highly dependent on the overall rate of unemployment. In the late 1990s, when the United States saw its first sustained period of low unemployment in more than a quarter century, workers at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution were able to secure substantial gains in real wages. When unemployment rose in the 2001 recession, and again following the collapse of the housing bubble, most workers no longer had the bargaining power to share in the benefits of growth. The book also documents another critical yet often overlooked side effect of full employment: improved fiscal conditions (without mindless budget policies like the current sequestration). Finally, in this volume, unlike the earlier one, the authors present a broad set of policies designed to boost growth and get the unemployment rate down to a level where far more workers have a fighting chance of getting ahead.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues. Jared Bernstein is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he focuses on fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, the analysis of financial and housing markets, and of course, full employment. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2107 KB
  • Print Length: 116 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Center for Economic and Policy Research; 1 edition (January 15, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GOJ9GWO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,469 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be in the President's Hands December 4, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bernstein and Baker lay out the answers in this book.

If you have a capitalist society, you are not yoked necessarily to the idea that the current version of capitalism is the one that is necessary, right, and the only way possible. You can have capitalism with a human face where workers are not fighting for crumbs.

The point of this book is that the current upwardly distributing system is the logical conclusion to policy decisions that were made already. Different, more equitable policy decisions can be made. These include raiding the minimum wage, targeting a lower "Natural" unemployment level, and going for weak dollar policies to help boosts exports relative to imports.

This is a short book, basically a long white paper, but it is an important book. I suppose that is why they are distributing it at cost. I read it in an evening over the long weekend, and I nodded my head to their words. It needs to be in the hands of policy makers, as soon as possible.

A couple of notes. The only thing that troubles me is the idea of weakening the currency (70). It is not an issue that it should be done, but that others can make moves to offset your moves because currency's values are relative to each other. That and you don't want to be labeled a currency manipulator on President Romney's first day in office. The second thing that gets me is that there is a cover design implying an attack on a certain company that isn't followed through fully in the text. I kept waiting for it, and it never came. I have to admit to liking take-downs of the beast from Bensonville.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent case for what should be our top priority December 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The authors lay out a well reasoned case based on considerable historical data why full employment should be a top national priority. With continued high unemployment, middle class stagnation and shrinkage, and growing wealth and income inequality, measures to promote full employment are especially vital. The authors detail specific steps that would need to be taken to bring this about. These include addressing the trade imbalance and more public investment in jobs. Political conservatives, with their current obsession with budget deficits, will undoubtedly disagree. Unfortunately, their prescription of austerity measures will only increase unemployment and slow growth while the top 1 percent will continue to do very well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Wish Congress Was As Motivated As The Unemployed December 20, 2013
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I totally agree with the author that it is not only possible to get closer to or achieve Full Employment, but vital to our nation to do so.
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The book gets fairly technical in supporting the author's assertion that reducing unemployment would be crucial in reversing the level of economic inequality in the United States. He recounts the history of the unemployment rate and explains how increasing unemployment has been an important strategy of corporations and free market ideologues in their concerted assault on the American middle class. The graphic plots were not easy to view on my Kindle, but that did not detract from the message.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well done,but technical. December 14, 2013
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For the non economist, it is difficult to plough through the technical aspects without getting lost. Compare it to Bruce Bartlett's book and you will see the difference. They know what they are about , but don't make it easy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Getting back to full employment. May 9, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a book that explains Keynesian economics in easy to understand language this is your book. I find personally didn't find it all that technical but I've studied a lot of economics. Did like the added information regarding monetary devaluation and inflation, felt it was covered very well. I'll note that you probably won't like it if you're Conservative, you've been been warned. Personally, Milton Friedman should read this book.
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