Rebuilding After Recession: A Plan For Jobs

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Above photo: Workers installing solar panels from Oxfam International/flickr.

Key findings

Research carried out for the TUC by Transition Economics reveals that fast-tracking spending on projects such as broadband, green technology, transport and housing could deliver a 1.24 million jobs boost by 2022.

The analysis shows that projects which could create jobs include:

  • Investment in high-speed broadband: this could help create over 40,000 new jobs
  • Research and development in de-carbonizing technology in manufacturing: this could help create over 38,000 new jobs
  • Expanding and upgrading the rail network: thiscould help deliver over 120,000 new jobs
  • Investing in the electrification of transport, including electric buses, new electric ferries, battery factories, and electric charging points: this could help deliver 59,000 jobs
  • Building new social housing and retrofitting existing social housing: thiscould create 500,000 jobs
    … read the full set of recommendations

The report calls on government to:

  • Establish a national recovery council with unions and employers
  • Set up sectoral working groups with unions and business groups to draw up road maps for specific industries
  • Introduce a fully funded jobs guarantee program that offers paid jobs with training, with a focus on young people
  • Boost social security support for those who lose their jobs
  • Ensure that the crisis does not exacerbate labor market inequalities, with a new drive to promote equality across all measures to rebuild the economy

Download full report (pdf)

Government investment in green technology and infrastructure is needed to create thousands of jobs and prevent a recession.

Working with unions and employers, the government has put in place the Job Retention Scheme and self-employed income support schemes, protecting the jobs and incomes of millions of workers during the coronavirus crisis.

But more is needed, and fast. Without further bold action from the government, we risk huge losses of jobs and livelihoods and possibly the deepest recession since the 1930s. The OECD estimates that unemployment could hit 11 per cent this year. But this is not inevitable, and action taken now can prevent the despair of mass unemployment.

Economic history shows that investment is the most effective way to deliver growth after a recession and restoring growth is the fastest way of restoring public finances. We failed to learn this lesson in 2010, and have paid a bitter price. Our weakened social infrastructure and insecure labor market created by years of austerity and deregulation have increased the impact of coronavirus, facilitating its spread, and hampering its cure.  And the last recession held back progress on tackling the inequalities that scar our labor market, with BME workers and disabled people seeing some of the sharpest impacts. This time must be different.

That’s why the TUC is publishing a new report setting out the measures we need to support the economy now and avoid a long and deep recession in the future.

Investment to create green jobs

First, we need the government to bring forward at least £85bn of infrastructure investment, targeted at job creation and moving the economy towards net-zero carbon emissions. Our report sets out some options:

  • Investment in high-speed broadband could help create over 40,000 new jobs.
  • Research and development in de-carbonizing technology in manufacturing could help create over 38,000 new jobs.
  • Expanding and upgrading the rail network could help deliver over 120,000 new jobs.
  • Investing in the electrification of transport, including buses, ferries, battery factories, and electric charging points could help deliver 59,000 jobs.
  • Building new social housing and retrofitting existing social housing could create 500,000 jobs.

Investment in these projects, all of which will create significant economic, social, and environmental benefits, will pay for itself over time by creating jobs and boosting growth and tax receipts.

Dangerous times require strong measures. Other governments recognize this – for example, the German government has announced a stimulus of 130 billion Euros, amounting to 3% of GDP over 2 years. We need our government to make this kind of commitment too.

Targeted sectoral support packages that promote good jobs

Different sectors are facing very different conditions, both now and into the future. This means their needs are different and they will require varying support strategies.

We need to establish sectoral recovery panels of trade unions, government and business to pool their knowledge and set out sectoral route maps that look ahead to the likely scenario for each sector in the months and years ahead. Based on these, packages of support targeted to each sector can be developed.

Areas that would benefit from a sectoral approach include:

  • Measures to enable a safe return to work.
  • Investments to facilitate diversification and in training and retraining programs.
  • Sectoral redeployment schemes.

Support for individual businesses in the form of equity stakes

Much of the existing support for individual businesses has been in the form of loans, but many businesses are reluctant to take on more debt. In addition, it is vital that there is a public interest return for the investment of public funds raised largely from taxes paid by working people.

For large and medium-sized businesses, government support should take the form of equity stakes, conditional on companies improving their business models. Companies that receive support must commit to:

  • Set out a fair pay plan, curbing excessive executive pay and paying all workers, including those indirectly employed, the Real Living Wage.
  • Pay corporation tax in the UK.
  • Promote decent jobs.
  • This approach will save businesses and jobs now, drive responsible business performance going forwards, and deliver an income stream for government in the future.

Fixing our safety net and promoting equality

These measures aim to protect jobs and promote decent work. But we also need to strengthen our safety net and ensure that no one falls through it. To do this we need:

  • A new government-funded jobs guarantee.
  • Increased rights and provision for training and retraining.
  • Reforms of universal credit and other benefits to prevent people from spiraling into debt.
  • Measures to prevent people with protected characteristics experiencing disproportionate impacts, and prioritizing progress towards equality rather than pushing it into reverse.

We can stem the tide of job losses and build back a better economy with decent work at its heart. Government action must be ambitious, far-reaching and fast.

  • I understood this writer is clueless when they wrote the USA could possibly attain 11% unemployment this year! We’ve already passed 35% unemployment easily, but everyone like this author is faking the numbers just like the covid-19 deaths. None of this is credible.

  • Margaret Flowers

    This was written for the United Kingdom.

  • SteelPirate

    More weak reformist nonsense in service to business as usual and private ownership of the means of life. United Kingdom or otherwise.

    “Privately owned industry and production for individual profit are no longer compatible with social progress and have ceased to work out to humane and civilized ends for the whole of society. The very moment that the workers begin to do their own thinking they understand the paramount issue, part company with the capitalist politicians, and fall in line with their own class on the political battlefield.”

    –Eugene Debs

  • jim james

    The last thing this country needs to do is build more houses.

    There’s more than enough room in houses and apartments for every person populating America.

    In fact, last I heard, hotels, motels, travel lodges, motor homes, also have tremendous vacancies.

    Given the long list of crises and boiling points roiling the United States right now, building new homes could be quite literally the very last thing this country needs to be doing.

  • jim james

    Good call! What the heck is TUC?

    Click the link to find out their mantra is ‘changing the world of work for good’….ugh….that’s as wishy-washy as it comes. It literally can be read more than one way. Sorry, I couldn’t get past their hinky motto.

  • chetdude

    It depends.

    Most of the houses that have been build over the last 20-30 years are of the McMansion variety — huge, expensive to heat and cool, etc.

    Most of the empty housing is deteriorating and much of it is uninhabitable.

    And motel rooms don’t come with kitchen facilities or living rooms.

    We DO need more right-sized housing – clustered communities of low impact housing including passive solar design, indigenous yards, etc. Like Health Care, Housing could be a Human Right…

  • chetdude

    Indeed: This was a clue “£85bn of
    infrastructure investment”

    Apparently the report is from the British version of the AFL/CIO…? Trades Union Council. Although British Unions are much more militant and autonomous than most USAmerican (company) Unions, they’re still closely tied to and dependent upon the failed fossil-fueled industrial growth paradigm.

    And the Pandemic is real.