Make-work job

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A make-work job is a job that has less immediate financial benefit to the economy than the job costs to support. Make-work jobs are similar to workfare, but are publicly offered on the job market and have otherwise normal employment requirements (workfare jobs, in contrast, may be handed out to a randomly selected applicant or have special requirements such as continuing to search for a non-workfare job).

Criticism and analysis

Some consider make-work jobs to be harmful when they provide very little practical experience or training for future careers.[1]

As a part of the New Deal, the CWA (Civil Works Administration) was created as a stopgap measure to boost the economic relief provided by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Public Works Administration. At its peak, the CWA employed 4,230,000 people; however, President Roosevelt was wary of the specter of corruption and accusations of boondoggling, and shut the CWA down after less than a year.[2] Economists like Milton Friedman considered the programs like the CCC and WPA as justified as a temporary response to an emergency. Friedman gave Roosevelt considerable credit for relieving immediate distress and restoring confidence.[3]

In a socialist nationalized economy, several of the nationalized sectors of work can be considered as make-work jobs, such as when an industry does not make a profit, but is considered essential by the state to the national interest.


Make-work jobs have been introduced during periods of high unemployment to provide as substitutes for regular jobs. In many European countries, social welfare systems provide cash transfers to those who are unable to secure employment. These programs often require the recipient to undertake job training, internships, or job rotations. Make-work jobs can have the benefit of giving workers the chance of meeting new people and learning how to work with others. Such jobs can also help workers learn the importance of coming to work on time and taking responsibility for their actions.

Many of the skills learned while doing make-work jobs help workers when applying for and doing regular jobs.[4] Several make-work jobs that were created in Denmark in 2014 were gardening, cleaning up beaches and sidewalks, reading to the elderly or disabled, washing toys at day cares, working with local bike programs, and counting cars.[5]

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Peter Doeringer, B. Vermeulen, Jobs and Training in the 1980s, Boston Studies in Applied Economics, Springer, 1981, ISBN 9780898380620, p. 196
  2. ^ David Edwin Harrell; et al. (2005). Unto A Good Land: A History Of The American People. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 902–. ISBN 0802837182.
  3. ^ Milton Friedman; Rose D. Friedman (1981). Free to Choose. Avon Books. p. 85. ISBN 0-380-52548-8.
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading

  • Graeber, David (August 2013). On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs]
  • On "bullshit jobs": Understanding seemingly meaningless work (August 2013), The Economist
  • Massey, Alana. The Cult of Work (July 2015), Hazlitt
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