Home > Off Blog, shorter work time > Tom Walker details shorter working time proposal…

Tom Walker details shorter working time proposal…

December 13, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

From Tom Walker, a leader in the shorter working time movement, as posted to the New York Times economics blog:

The concept behind my stimulus plan is simple: a basic leisure income guarantee linked to a voluntary cap of 1700 annual hours of work. The exact amount of the monthly payments would depend on how many people opt for the cap on hours of work. But assuming 200 million adults, a 500 billion stimulus package would enable annual payments of $2,500 each. The amount could be paid in monthly installments.

The cap on annual hours would trigger a claw back of $18.21 an hour (the median wage) up to the total of $2,500 for hours worked annually in excess of 1700. The structure of the stimulus package would give an incentive for full-time employees to work a shorter workweek or to take more vacation time. It would give an income boost to part-time and low-wage employees.

The potential number of hours released back into the job market by the work-time reduction would allow for the creation of approximately six million new full-time jobs (assuming job creation of about 45% of the arithmetically possible effect).

Because it is not certain that every adult would take up the offer, the amount of the basic leisure income could be adjusted upward and the number of annual hours adjusted downward. I originally proposed a one trillion dollar package with a 1600 annual hour cap at the blog EconoSpeak.

Unlike any of the other stimulus packages I have seen, mine is consistent with J.M. Keynes’s thinking about full employment as stated in his 1943 Treasury memorandum on “The Long Term Problem of Full Employment”:

“As the third phase* comes into sight; the problem stressed by Sir H. Henderson begins to be pressing. It becomes necessary to encourage wise consumption and discourage saving,-and to absorb some part of the unwanted surplus by increased leisure, more holidays (which are a wonderfully good way of getting rid of money) and shorter hours.”

*Keynes anticipated a “third phase” of full employment policy after initial investment and consumption programs had run their course.

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