From a front-page New York Times story today. Here are the details that were hidden in the fight over the payroll tax cut and the unemployment (UI) extension.
Congress and the President agreed on some shockingly good ideas, including importing the concept of "work sharing" from (no!) Europe.
The bill additionally expands “work sharing” programs that can help reduce layoffs at big businesses. In effect, businesses would have the option of cutting the hours of five workers by 20 percent each, say, rather than laying off one worker. The business could then use unemployment insurance money to help supplement the workers’ wages to make up for the lost hours.
Economists also applauded the work-sharing provisions, which have found success in states including Connecticut and Rhode Island as well as in countries like Germany.
“Work sharing is an incredibly smart thing to do,” said Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, a research institution in Washington. “But it’s a tragedy that we didn’t do that on a large scale over the past four years.”
The provision may help reduce layoffs in the coming years, Ms. Shierholz said, supporting the recovery. She also said that being laid off tended to hurt a worker’s earnings and career prospects down the road. Work-sharing helps to minimize economic pain and keep families afloat, she said.
This part of the bill was a bipartisan effort, evidently. Amazing if true.