Dean Baker wrote:
Okay, I'm not on vacation, but this is a BTP flashback. My original write-up of this NYT news article was way too positive. This article was essentially a diatribe against Germany's welfare state. To make its case, it turned an incredible success story -- Germany's relatively low unemployment rate -- into a failure.It is obvious that Dean Baker is on a mission -- the one policy that resolves all social ills. As such, he cannot listen to reason. Fine. Good luck, Dean. Work week reduction (or "work sharing") has never, anywhere, eliminated involuntary unemployment and underemployment; indeed, it has never had a significant effect. These schemes have not increased employment... This WILL NOT create many more jobs. If Dean's trying to engage in a dialogue with the New York Times, it might help if the tone of his blog entry was somewhat less snarky. Perhaps snark attracts more internet traffic, but it doesn't encourage dialogue.
The basic deal is that Germany adopted an explicit policy of encouraging employers to shorten work hours rather than lay off workers. The government allows unemployment benefits to be used to pay workers to cover most of the loss in wages due to the shorter workweek.
As a result, Germany's unemployment rate has barely changed in the downturn. Its unemployment rate at present is 7.7 percent. This is down from 7.8 percent earlier in the year. Germany's unemployment rate in 2007 was 8.4 percent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the current level.