Drumbeat Continues from Left and Right for Work Sharing
Written by Nicole Woo
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:30
Today's Wall Street Journal profiled Pilgrim Screw Corp.'s successful use of work sharing — reducing workers' hours instead of laying them off, with the workers getting partial unemployment benefits to make up much of their lost pay — in this detailed article, "Cutting Hours Instead of Jobs."
The WSJ points out that even a conservative, Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute:
also is a fan, and noted that he hasn't encountered any hostility when he has raised the topic with fellow Republicans. "This thing could have a big impact on the labor market," he added.
At the other end of the media spectrum, earlier this month PBS television's Need To Know described work sharing as an "innovative job-saving program, which seems to be paying off" in Rhode Island and across the nation (and included an interview with CEPR's Dean Baker):
A few days after that broadcast, Dean Baker on NPR's Planet Money blog emphasized work sharing as a policy that President Obama could pursue to reduce unemployment, stating:
This one should be a simple and non-partisan issue... If just 5 percent of layoffs/dismissals can be prevented through work sharing, this would translate into 1.1 million additional jobs by the end of a year.
WorkShare is a successful layoff aversion program that has prevented an estimated 14,650 layoffs in our state since 2007... We in Rhode Island believe strongly that our WorkShare program has kept this [unemployment] rate from escalating and causing further damage to our state economy.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor*, in 2010 the average number of participants nationwide was 76,722, and from January to October 2011 it was 51,668. That's a significant drop form the peak week of about 153,000 participants in June 2009, but still many times larger than the just over 12,000 participants in January 2007. You can see the trend in the graph below, which simply extends the one found in a prior post about work sharing.
Participation continues to vary widely from state to state, with Rhode Island continuing to lead the nation in work-share participants as a percent of civilian labor force, followed by Washington, California, Missouri and Connecticut. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut have reintroduced their work-sharing bills in this Congress.
In addition, the Center for Law and Social Policy recently released an updated fact sheet that answers frequently-asked questions about work sharing and includes this map showing the 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) with work-sharing programs:
*Source: Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. Please contact CEPR if you'd like to see the data.