“…One response to high unemployment in the 1970s was a return to government job creation. The largest of these programs, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Administration (CETA), made it possible to extend the services of state public agencies as well as nonprofit social services, but CETA was much smaller in relation to total unemployment than the WPA (Ginsburg, 1983; Rose, 2009). The Ronald Reagan administration (1981–1989) repealed CETA in 1982, even though unemployment was nearly 10 percent. Another congressional response to unemployment was the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 that set an interim target of 4 percent adult unemployment. However, the legislation was without teeth, and the average unemployment rate in the five years that followed was 8.0 percent, or double the interim target (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013d). Indeed, the nominal commitment to full employment did not stop the Federal Reserve from the previously mentioned policy of raising interest rates that led to higher unemployment.”
Excerpted from: Goldberg, Gertrude Schaffner, “U.S. Employment Policy in Historical Perspective,” from “Employment, Poverty, and Social Welfare.” New Perspectives on Poverty, edited by Elissa D. Giffords & Karen R. Garber (Lyceum Books, 2014).