William Galston Says Fix the Jobs

This is part of the series highlighting supporters of pro-jobs policies. An updated list of supporters can be found here.

In the past month William Galston, the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has written two articles lamenting the jobless recovery and its effect on America’s strength.

His first article, The Economic Roots of American Retreat, discusses the effect of the weak state of the American economy on international relations. In his view:

“If the people do not believe we are strong at home, they will be reluctant to support a policy of strength abroad, reducing the ability of the U.S. to serve as the guarantor of global security.”


“Yet our political leaders cannot sustain the country’s leading role without the support of the American people, who will not be willing to shoulder that burden unless they have a chance to improve their lives and enhance opportunity for their children. Their loss of confidence is the largest obstacle to a foreign and defense policy that reduces aggression and increases security around the world. For America’s national leaders who still support such a policy, rebuilding a growing economy whose fruits are widely shared is Job One.”

In his second article, Soaring Profits but Too Few Jobs, he elaborates his thesis from the previous article and discusses why American’s feel that the economy is still in a recession. His more interesting findings are that:

“Before the recession, the average duration of unemployment was about 16 weeks. It then surged to more than 40 weeks in 2011 and still stands at 37 weeks today.”

Underemployment grew:

“During the recession, 60% of job losses occurred in middle-wage occupations paying between $13.83 and $21.13 per hour, while 21% of losses involved jobs paying less than $13.83 hourly. During the recovery, however, only 22% of new jobs paid middle wages while fully 58% were at the lower-wage end of the scale. In other words, millions of re-employed workers have experienced downward mobility.”


“Meanwhile, total compensation—wages and benefits such as health insurance and pensions—fell to their lowest share of GDP in at least 50 years. From December 2007 through the third quarter of 2013, the compensation share of national GDP declined to 61% from 64%.”

His final point is our leaders, from both parties, have been failing us:

“We should be having a robust national discussion about these trends, which polls say are of intense concern to the American people. Instead, Republicans are banging away at the Affordable Care Act while Democrats are busy scheduling votes on a grab bag of subjects designed to boost turnout from the party’s base in the fall elections. The economic problems we face are getting lost in the partisan din.

We need new policies—not just monetary, but fiscal, tax and labor-market policies as well—that focus relentlessly on aligning growth with job creation and compensation with productivity. The alternative is more of the same for average American households.”

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