To help them navigate the uncertain future of employment, New Jersey must help workers save and pay for tuition, and protect their health and safety as well as their finances. Moreover, the state needs to improve the unemployment website, which disappointed tens of thousands of unemployed during the shutdown of COVID-19, allowing people to more easily receive benefits and find work, recommends the task force in The report will be released on Thursday.
The future of the task force, created by Gov. Phil Murphy 3 and a half years ago, began as a way to explore how technology and automation will affect workers. But she shifted after hearing that workers were more concerned about the lack of full-time jobs with benefits and access to training after the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how vulnerable some professions are to unforeseen forces.
“Everyone is concerned about the impact that technology will have on industry or their sector, but interestingly, not as concerned as you think about the impact directly on their work,” said Beth Novek, the state’s chief innovation officer and chair of the task force. . “So it’s not that people are immediately worried that“ robots will eat my work and my work won’t be tomorrow, ”and I think that’s right. People are much more concerned about issues such as their own health and safety, how they can afford other benefits to which they are entitled, whether they have the time and opportunity, and ways to improve their skills and prepare for tomorrow’s work. “
The threat of automation
Automation can be a problem, the report said, with the greatest danger being “medium-skilled routines that are easiest to automate,” and it is typically low-wage people. How automation will attract and require skills will lead to “problems with retraining and retraining of workers for new types of jobs”. It cites a report by the Brookings Institution, which found that color workers would be disproportionately affected: 47% of tasks performed by Hispanic workers and 44% of blacks subject to automation, compared to 40% of tasks performed by whites.
Governor sets up task force says New Jersey needs to prepare for “deep impact” of technological change
“Current developments in the labor market may be accelerated by technology, including negative trends such as rising inequality, stagnating wages and benefits, and the spread of shaky and precarious labor relations,” the report said.
However, it notes that new technologies will also bring new jobs to the state, including up to 8,000 jobs related to the expansion of offshore wind energy. It also envisions job growth in the non-retail food and beverage industry and the legalization of marijuana for recreation.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 not only delayed the task force as it did almost everything, but also shifted some of the group’s attention to issues related to business closures and unemployment, as well as the need to be prepared for unknown failures. in business in the future. Fully two-thirds of New Jersey businesses have sought financial assistance as a result of COVID-19, the report said. The number of small businesses opened in the state fell by almost 41% from January 2020 to April 2021. At the same time, small business revenues fell by 39%, while leisure and hospitality revenues fell by almost two-thirds. In addition to the fact that colored people face huge health impacts, people with color have also lost their jobs, the report said.
The huge shift that the pandemic has brought to the top of an already changing economy, drawing on a growing number of concerns, independent contractors without health care and other benefits, has given rise to a number of task force recommendations.
These include improving law enforcement mechanisms to ensure employers enforce laws on workers ’rights and benefits, and empowering the Department of Labor and Labor Development to better enforce workplace safety laws. The task force also targeted a dying unemployment system, leaving thousands of New Jersey residents waiting months to receive a check after mass layoffs over the pandemic. At its worst in the spring of 2020, more than 700,000 New Jersey residents were unemployed.
It is unclear how much it may cost to repair the unemployment benefit system and its technology, which has been in place for decades. A a bill that was introduced in 2020 tried to allocate $ 50 million in federal aid in connection with COVID-19 for correction. It never hit Murphy’s desk.
Team Garden State of Natural State
New Jersey and Arkansas are involved in a federal pilot project to modernize and improve the unemployment system, but that work is still in its infancy. Novak said that the task is solved in stages, and that people can expect that in the course of work, rather than major repairs, will see “many small, small victories.”
A Gallup poll shows that only 9% of employees want to return to the office full-time
Another important recommendation would be for the state to create a portable payment system to allow non-traditional workers or concerns to have retirement accounts and compensation insurance that will follow them if they change jobs for life. Legislation (S-328) which could create such a program has been under consideration since 2017 and is currently sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington). A retirement account can be part of a new one Safe Choice Program will open next month for employees of enterprises with at least 25 employees who have not yet offered a retirement plan.
The task force also recommends setting up continuing education accounts for New Jersey residents, with the state allocating funds to those with incomes of $ 50,000 or less. Lifelong learning accounts are similar to a state-funded IRA or 401 (k). Employees who open and pay the bill can use the funds for education and training, as well as transportation, child care and other expenses so that they can undergo training. Funds will be available to them throughout their careers, and accounts will offer tax benefits. Washington and Maine are among the states that already have such accounts. This is another program that lawmakers have been pushing for for years. Currently sponsored by collector member Carol Murphy (D-Burlington). A-2534, the implementation bill. Noveck said $ 10 million has been included in the current budget, and officials are working to launch the program.
A task force is reviewing benefits reforms, training and more to help workers
Other guidelines aim to improve people’s ability to find and compare available educational programs, direct financial incentives to companies to offer training, and develop standards of outcomes that businesses would need to meet to receive funding from the state or federal state.
Not surprisingly, the administration, which was very supportive of the unions, recommended that the task force take further steps “to protect the union and collective bargaining.”
Novak said the Murphy administration is already working on many recommendations, although some others may need legislative approval. In a statement included in the report, Murphy wrote that he was grateful that the task force had turned to addressing and responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19, without losing sight of the original goal of addressing the impact of new technologies on work. He added that he seeks to promote the recommendations of the task force.