The ELEVATE Act Explained
In simple economic models, workers disrupted by trade or automation are instantly reallocated from declining industries to ones on the rise. Yet that is rarely if ever the case in the real world. Labor markets are highly complex institutions, riddled with frictions created by geography, social networks, discrimination, and regulations that vary from place to place.
In a world where nothing ever changes, this wouldn’t be a big problem. Yet in a dynamic, growing economy, change is the rule, particularly with increased foreign trade and major breakthroughs in AI and robotics on the horizon. This demands that the United States finally get around to constructing a truly national labor market — one with robust employment, training, and relocation supports that follow workers wherever they go.
The “Economic Ladders to End Volatility and Advance Training and Employment” or ELEVATE Act is a big first step in that direction. It provisions include:
A new title to the Social Security Act for states to fund and implement subsidized employment programs;
Guardrails that ensure states pursue re-employment and retraining programs with a strong evidence base and low overhead;
Funding conditioned on states’ quarterly unemployment rates to create aggressive and fast-acting “automatic stabilizers”;
A demonstration project to identify “pro-worker employers” to ensure subsidized job placements don’t erode job quality;
A national self-employment benefit for recently unemployed workers to pursue entrepreneurship;
And a national relocation assistance program to reimburse eligible individuals for the expenses associated with “moving to opportunity.” …