How would a job guarantee work during an emergency like a pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the acute economic shock associated with the lockdowns demonstrated the need for a comprehensive job guarantee. There was both a major shock to private sector employment and an expanded need for public sector employment to address the public health crisis caused by the virus. The job guarantee could have swiftly provided workers to help with contact tracing, testing and vaccination, emergency triage, and new forms of assistance for vulnerable populations. The program could have directly addressed widespread unemployment and the sudden need for support services for public health needs. The program would have complemented the measures that governments had implemented during the crisis, including direct income support, child allowances, payroll protection and other worker safety and paid leave policies.

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