1. Every month, companies lay off or fire two million workers. If firms could be persuaded to keep just 10 percent of these workers employed working fewer hours, it would be equivalent to creating 200,000 jobs a month.

    If unemployment insurance benefits were used to subsidize short workweeks, so that people were compensated for part of their lost time (e.g. a worker who puts in 20 percent fewer hours gets 10 percent less pay), then many firms might opt to go the route of shortening work hours. This policy has been so successful in Germany that its unemployment rate has actually fallen since the start of the downturn, even though its growth has been no better than growth in the U.S.

    Policy can also promote longer vacations, family and parental leave, and paid sick days — all mechanisms for making the workplace more family friendly. There seems to be no way to avoid the fact that we are destined to have a prolonged period in which the economy is operating below its potential output. It makes much more sense to turn this into leisure that can be enjoyed by everyone, rather than unemployment that is suffered by an unlucky minority of the work force.


    Shorter Workweeks, Longer Vacations - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com

    I mean: think about what this means for a second. Think about how right now, “productivity” is up—meaning employers are squeezing more work out of fewer workers. Think about a society that actually cared about “the pursuit of happiness” and decided that if the economy can work with fewer workers, that means we should all work fewer hours.

    Think about what it would mean to have policies that valued our time off, our families, our lives.

    It won’t happen. But it’s so nice to see it—and to see a case made for it not just because it would be revolutionary, but because it would make economic sense.

    (via champagnecandy)


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