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Jobs: A Human Right | Commentary

Second, Rep Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., is introducing the American Worker Mobility Act this month, to ensure that America’s unemployed workers have the support they need to find quality employment, which often requires relocation. According to Cárdenas, the relocation subsidy, to be distributed by the Department of Labor, will help Americans relocate within the U.S. “at least 60 miles from the individual’s current residence, for the purpose of attaining employment.” The assistance will be available to any American individual who “has obtained a bona fide offer of suitable employment affording a reasonable expectation of long-term duration in the area in which the individual wishes to relocate.” The legislation also applies to American workers who wish to relocate from an area of high unemployment to an area of low unemployment. This is exactly what unemployed workers need.

From the macro to the micro, Conyers, Wilson and Cárdenas are tackling the essential components required to get America back to work. We need both efforts. From thinking big about bringing America to full employment, with less than 4 percent unemployed, to caring for the day-to-day concerns of a worker who may have to move his/her entire family to another state to obtain a quality job, this is what foresighted members of Congress think about and, ultimately, legislate.

We’ve got plenty of work waiting for the unemployed and the underemployed in America; it’s merely a matter of prioritizing it. The $3.6 trillion needed, for example, to bring our roads, bridges and infrastructure up to safety standards, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, after being neglected for more than 30 years, is a great place to start.

America has the money. Remember that we’re spending $4 trillion to 6 trillion on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars after we take care of all the returning soldiers. Thus, any member who says we don’t have the federal funds to create American jobs is being disingenuous and doing a disservice to our workers who want to return to the workforce.

The time for prioritizing just jobs in America is long past due. These members of Congress get that. And thank goodness. We can no longer keep American workers waiting.

Michael Shank, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the JustJobs Network and associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Commission on National Legislation.

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