In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Paul Krugman makes the case that current unemployment levels in the U.S. are a bigger concern than government debt, despite the recent focus on deficits. I’ve heard these arguments before, but I’ve always wanted to hear more discussion of the types of employment.
It makes sense to me that pulling out of economic problems requires having as many people work as possible. However, it must matter what kind of work they are doing. If we subsidize clothing it will create more jobs in the clothing industry and will allow compulsive shoppers to buy even more tops and shoes they’ll never wear, but I fail to see how this will help the economy in the long run.
It’s unlikely that we would all agree on what types of work benefit society and what doesn’t, but it seems to me that if the government plans to inject money to spark the economy, it makes sense to give some thought to the type of job growth that the stimulus will create.
I have no great answers here, but I’d like to know if quality of employment is even a consideration. By “quality” here, I mean the type of work that will benefit society in the long run rather than how the individual would define quality (e.g., pay level, security, benefits, etc.). Surely building windmills is better than selling cute shoes.