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Universal Basic Income or Universal Living Wage?

The challenge for the future of work is not really about the quantity of jobs, but their quality, and whether they pay enough to provide a decent standard of living. In the US, ensuring that they do starts with raising the minimum wage and ensuring that other existing tools don't go unused.

BERKELEY – A universal basic income (UBI) would be both regressive and prohibitively expensive. Yet the idea continues to attract a motley crew of tech and labor leaders, libertarians, and progressives, who fear a coming age of mass technological unemployment.

Similarly, proposals in the United States for a federal jobs guarantee have been gaining momentum on the traditional left. But while such a program could employ millions of workers to deliver basic public services and rebuild and modernize the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, it is no more feasible than a UBI, given current federal budget constraints.

The challenge for the future of work is not really about the quantity of jobs, but their quality, and whether they will pay enough to provide a decent standard of living. Even in developed countries where relatively higher wages encourage the adoption of labor-saving technology, job losses will likely be offset by projected increases in demand for goods and services, driven by productivity and income gains, growing health-care needs, and investment in alternative energy and infrastructure.

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