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American UnemploymentPast, Present, and Future$
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Frank Stricker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043154

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043154.001.0001

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Full Employment

Full Employment

Experiments and Battles (1940–1974)

(p.69) Chapter 3 Full Employment
American Unemployment

Frank Stricker

University of Illinois Press

Wartime deficit spending brought truly full employment, but millions of women were pushed out of blue-collar jobs afterward. Business leaders and conservatives defeated a full-employment bill in 1946. Capital flight, urban deindustrialization, and a double recession in the late 1950s destroyed many, especially black, communities. Under presidents Kennedy and Johnson, liberal Keynesian economists used tax cuts and deficit spending to promote more economic growth and full employment. Large-scale spending on the Vietnam War followed. Unemployment stayed below 4 percent for four years, but millions were still jobless. Some of them joined the uprisings of black people that rocked American cities. Dissenting experts realized that the government undercounted unemployment. Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty focused too much on fixing poor people and not enough on creating jobs for them. Later, some liberals concluded that economic growth and poverty programs could not bring real full employment. Direct job creation was essential. One such effort was the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).

Keywords:   Keynesian, War on Poverty, real full employment, Lyndon Johnson, liberal economists, government job creation, official unemployment, deindustrialization, CETA

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