The Political Failure of Employment Policy, 1945–1982

There should be little debate about the cogency of his political analysis. The book is one of the best studies we have of the long-term development of a set of policies and a profound commentary on the limitations of the American welfare state.
American Political Science Review

This political history analyzes the failure of the United States to adopt viable employment policies, follows U.S. manpower training and employment policy from the 1946 Employment Act to the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982. Between these two landmarks of legislation in the War on Poverty, were attempts to create public service employment (PSE), the abortive Humphrey-Hawkins Act, and the beleaguered Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).Mucciaroni's traces the impact of economic ideas and opinions on federal employment policy. Efforts at reform, he believes, are frustrated by the tension between economic liberty and social equality that restricts the role of government and holds workers themselves accountable for success or failure. Professional economists, especially Keynesians, have shaped the content and timing of policy innovations in such ways as to limit employment programs to a social welfare mission, rather than broader, positive economic objectives. As a result, neither labor nor management has been centrally involved in making policy, and employment programs have lacked a stable and organized constituency committed to their success. Finally, because of the fragmentation of U.S. political institutions, employment programs are not integrated with economic policy, are hampered by conflicting objectives, and are difficult to carry out effectively. As chronic unemployment and the United States' difficulties in the world marketplace continue to demand attention, the importance of Mucciaroni's subject will grow. For political scientists, economists, journalists, and activists, this book will be a rich resource in the ongoing debate about the deficiencies of liberalism and the best means of addressing one of the nation's most pressing social and political problems. Mucciaroni's provocative theoretical analysis is buttressed by several years' research at the U.S. Department of Labor, access to congressional hearings, reports, and debates, and interviews with policy makers and their staffs. It will interest all concerned with the history of liberal social policy in the postwar period.

328 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in.

February, 1991

isbn : 9780822954743

about the author

Gary Mucciaroni

Gary Mucciaroni is visiting assistant professor in the department of government at the College of William and Mary.

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Gary Mucciaroni