: Most Americans want government-backed job training programs — not ‘free money’


If Americans could choose between having more government-sponsored job and skills training programs and a universal basic income, the majority would pick the former according to a Pew Research Center survey published on Thursday.

Some 75% of American adults indicated that it is “very important” for the government to provide more job and skills training for workers.

That’s more than twice the share of Americans (31%) who view universal income as “very important”, the nationally representative survey of over 1,000 adults found.

Universal basic income, regarded bluntly as “free money” by some critics, is a public program whereby every qualifying adult receives a check on a regular basis.  Countries including Finland and Denmark have experimented with the concept.

Some 75% of American adults indicated that it is ‘very important’ for the government to provide more job and skills training for workers.

During the pandemic, the average American household received $5,500 from three different rounds of stimulus checks, according to the Economic Security Project,  a progressive anti-poverty nonprofit co-founded by Facebook

co-founder Chris Hughes.

The checks collectively kept millions of Americans out of poverty and enabled many more to keep up with their normal spending habits even while unemployed, research shows. 

This week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti included a version of universal basic income as part of his budget proposal.

The $24 million proposal, which needs to be approved by his City Council, provide $1,000 a month to 2,000 households. As with stimulus checks, there are no requirements as to how these families spend the money.

“We’re showing what it takes to fulfill Dr. King’s call for a basic income once and for all,” Garcetti wrote on Twitter
“We’re betting that one small but steady investment for Angeleno households will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation.”

Stockton, Oakland and San Francisco are other cities that have explored universal basic income programs.

Proponents of a universal basic income such as Garcetti hoped that the three rounds of stimulus checks would bolster the case for the equivalent of permanent stimulus checks.

The average American household received $5,500 from three different rounds of stimulus checks,

— Economic Security Project

Recently, 21 out of the 50 Democratic senators signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to include recurring stimulus payments to Americans in his Build Back Better package to be unveiled soon.

But Biden hasn’t said whether or not he supports recurring payments. Regardless, it doesn’t appear to have enough support in the Senate to pass, even through a simple majority.

However, Biden, in his recently unveiled $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, is calling for $40 billion to “ensure comprehensive services for workers, who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, to gain new skills and to get career services they need with in-demand jobs,” a fact sheet of the proposal states. 

He’s also calling for another $48 billion in funds to create as many as 2 million “new registered apprenticeships slots” aimed specifically at “strengthening the pipeline for more women and people of color” to succeed in infrastructure jobs. 

In Finland, meanwhile, getting money from the government with no strings attached made Finnish people happier, but it didn’t improve their chances of getting a job, a 2019 report found.

In the U.S., buzz around universal basic income grew after several Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination touted versions of UBI. They join a bevy of Silicon Valley leaders, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla’s 

Elon Musk, who have championed the concept.

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