Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Black Economists Back Federal Job Guarantee Resolution

Left: Ayanna Pressley. Right: Nina Banks, Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University, is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies and in Africana Studies. She is working on a biography and edited volume of speeches and writings of Sadie Alexander and a manuscript titled, Gender, Race, and Environmental Activism: Women of Color Working for Tomorrow (University of Toronto Press.)

Many politicians run their campaigns on platitudes about “more jobs” and decreasing the wealth gap.
In an announcement released last month, Rep. Ayanna Pressley called for the government to create jobs for everyone “It’s a matter of economic justice,” she said, “and it’s long overdue.”
Joined by leading Black economists and advocates, Pressley said her resolution would guarantee that every American a job with a living wage and benefits.

“We’re clearly dealing with issues now that will call for the fundamental restructuring of American society. It is going to cost the nation something,” Pressley said. “As we find ourselves, dealing with the gravity and the weight of these crises, we’re looking for how to have a just and equitable economic recovery, but also to chart a different path forward.”
Her resolution calls for federally funded jobs program which would be implemented locally. The focus of the resolution addresses community infrastructure needs including child, elder care, environmental protection, and otherwise strengthening neighborhoods.

Philadelphia native Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was the first Black person in the nation to earn a Ph.D. in economics in 1921. Three years later, she earned a law degree and eventually became the first Black woman to pass the Pennsylvania bar and practice law in the state.


Pressley believes a federal job guarantee is a part of addressing the persisting income and wealth gap for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous workers, which provides community members the opportunity to work with dignity.
“And so I think given the scale and scope of the three conflated crises that have bearing down and expressed commitments to address everything from climate change to economic hardship to systemic and structural racism, a federal job guarantee allows us to accomplish all of those things,” Pressley continued.
Projects proposed include strengthening public programs at libraries, parks and recreation centers, and afterschool programs; emergency preparedness and disaster relief; and rehabilitating and retrofitting existing affordable housing stock.

During the press conference, Dr. Nina Banks, president of the National Economic Association, shared that Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, America’s first black economist, first called for a federal job guarantee in 1945 during a speech at Florida A&M.
“ Sadie Alexander believed that we needed to invest in jobs to address issues tied to housing, people who are living in slums, literacy and also providing access to utilities for everybody within the country,” said Banks. “This [proposal] is absolutely an expansion of work opportunities.”

“During this time, when so many jobs have been lost that community needs have been great,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, founder in residence at PolicyLink. “The very idea that the federal job guarantee would be a way for communities to be able to have people do the work of rebuilding community of investing in infrastructure the human infrastructure for the care economy as well as the infrastructure and transportation and other things that are so vital.”

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