With the number of unemployed in New York City hovering around 300,000 and job vacancies at about 250,000, critics have claimed that the push for jobs guarantee is a dead end.
Councilwoman Amanda Farias has begun to try to lay the groundwork for a solution to the city’s unemployment crisis, a municipal jobs guarantee.
Farias, a first-year lawmaker who represents the Parkchester and Castle Hill sections of the Bronx, ran to victory on that policy platform last year.
While she concedes that actually getting it done will prove more challenging, she’s convinced the political climate is now right.
“We just need the how,” she said.
“It’s just a matter of connecting all the dots. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Several years ago, the implementation of a policy that promised a city job to every New Yorker would have been virtually unthinkable.
Economically, the city was on relatively stable footing, and of course there wasn’t a pandemic to contend with.
However, times have changed. The current City Council is even more left-leaning than it was before. The Democratic Socialists of America have made gains both there and in the state Legislature. And with the city’s economy still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, Mayor Adams is facing enormous pressure to make a dent in unemployment figures that far exceed the national average.
To get more New Yorkers into jobs, Farias, the first woman to head the Council’s Economic Development Committee, is aiming to capitalize on her past role at the Consortium for Worker Education to better train workers and more effectively find them employment.
At the consortium, Farias focused on getting people who were incarcerated into unionized jobs, pairing those already working with better opportunities and developing new apprenticeship models.
Now, she wants to take what she learned there, pick out the best practices used by other community-based organizations, and apply it all to streamlining how the city assists people in search of work.
“A lot of workforce development goes into putting people into job training, but not a job placement,” she said.
“We need to build up the supply for the demand that we know has existed for years.”
Farias pointed to the approximately $600 million the city pours into workforce development annually as a starting point. Using that money more efficiently would result in filling more jobs, and from Farias’ perspective, that would open the door to guaranteeing a job to every New Yorker who wants one.
Whether or not Adams is open to the idea is unclear. But Adams has recognized the need to revamp the city’s workforce development model. In his blueprint for the city’s economic recovery, he lays out his aim to “reimagine the public workforce system” by creating “a more effective talent development and delivery system to improve workers’ access to services that qualify them for good jobs.”
“The city will launch and convene the ‘Future of Workers’ Taskforce, a working group of industry experts — including higher education, human service job training providers, research institutions, labor and employers,” Adams’ blueprint states.
“The group will develop a citywide, early-education-to-adult-talent development vision to address short-term recovery needs and long-term structural challenges in meeting the talent needs of businesses in an equitable fashion.”
Adams’ plan does not mention a jobs guarantee, however, and Farias acknowledges that she still has some convincing to do. Still, she added that the “politics are somewhat there.”Critics render councilwoman’s push for NYC job guarantee a dead end