How to Fix the Problem of Joblessness – Carla Javits

Our War on Poverty blog series focuses on jobs and joblessness as central to reducing poverty.  That’s because the facts are that the poverty rate is dramatically lower for people who work full time.  We also want to stay attuned to issues of economic mobility, and spotlighting solutions to job creation and access to jobs.

Today we have two new blogs that provide different perspectives around reducing poverty as part of our series.

Across the political spectrum there is agreement that economic mobility requires access to quality education and training tightly linked to employer needs.  Audrey Murrell, a professor of business administration in Pittsburgh makes the case for lowering the cost of higher education as an investment in upward mobility and employment.

While REDF and our portfolio have pioneered social enterprises that have helped thousands of people who face the greatest barriers to employment get jobs, we stand on the shoulders of business and nonprofit leaders who initiated this model of market-oriented job creation.  Early in the 20th century this included Goodwill Industries started by a Boston minister who saw that he could create jobs and value by repairing old clothes and reselling them.  Over the more recent decades it included groups like Delancey Street that started multiple businesses to employ people exiting prison and addiction.

Just as important, our forebears include community development corporations throughout the US that – although they became better known for developing affordable housing — also created businesses of all stripes with the twin goals of improving local economies in poor neighborhoods, and employing people who would not otherwise have a chance to work.  Marcus Weiss, a godfather of that effort who is a treasure trove of knowledge about the history of public-private partnerships to create social enterprise in the United States – and what has and has not worked – provides a brief synopsis here  – linked to a longer piece well worth exploring.  This is useful history that informs us as we renew and redouble our efforts to create jobs.  The lessons we’ve learned will help us make good on the promise of our country which is to enable everyone to participate, contribute, and create value through the opportunity to work and advance.

This post is part of the War on Poverty blog series from REDF.