One of the most unheralded examples of Democrats and Republicans working together has been the passage of work-sharing laws at both the national and state levels over the past few years.
Ten states have passed work-sharing since 2009, bringing the total up to 26 states plus the District of Columbia. And time-limited federal funding for work-sharing was included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Most, if not all, of these laws were passed with bipartisan support.
Tomorrow, the National Employment Law Project and Center for Law and Social Policy are convening a "A National Conference: Averting Layoffs and Saving Jobs Through Work-Sharing" in Washington, DC, to draw more attention to this under-publicized and underutilized program.
CEPR's Dean Baker and AEI's Kevin Hassett will be the lunchtime speakers, highlighting the bipartisan support for work-sharing. As they wrote in this New York Times op-ed, expanding it would
"[S]low job destruction... [and] improve chances for all workers seeking employment. From now on, the first line of defense during a recession should be to expand work sharing rather than simply extend unemployment benefits."
As the chart below shows, work-sharing participation rates peaked during the recent recession, and have since been dropping along with the unemployment rate, which is exactly how it is supposed to work.
Getting more states to start work-sharing programs now, or improve their existing ones, would not only help them access millions of dollars in federal funds before the deadlines, but also be better prepared for the next downturn.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration
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