ConservAmerica: Civilian Conservation Corps model could help America recover

  • Published on July 1st, 2020

Congress has so far approved three relief packages to address the pandemic, but ConservAmerica’s Alexandra Ogilvie says policymakers should go further and revive public service programs such as those popular during the Great Depression. She advocates for the revival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which she says would provide relief and hope as well as give much-needed attention to our national parks.

Yellowstone National Park Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Yellowstone National Park (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

By Alexandra Ogilvie

As America struggles to overcome the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout it’s creating, Congress should take stock of the lessons learned from severe economic downturns of the past to guide what could be a prolonged and slow recovery.

Capitol Hill lawmakers have so far approved three relief packages to address the pandemic and support the economy. Still far more may need to be added to the nearly $3 trillion in taxpayer spending that’s already gone out the door before normalcy returns. Some responses are more effective than others, and policymakers should look for opportunities that provide jobs and long-term benefits to society.

One such option is the revival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a voluntary national service program that created jobs for young, unemployed men during the Great Depression.

Over 20 million Americans reported losing their jobs in April. The 14.7% jobless rate is now higher than the 10.8% peak seen during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Still, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that due to underreporting, the actual rate is probably closer to 20%.

While we’re not yet at the all-time high of 25% unemployed during the Great Depression, the latest economic indicators are indeed dire, especially for the generation of youth just entering the job market. The unemployment rate for those 16 to 24 years old is 27.4%. And with so many older workers competing for fewer jobs, it could be years before younger Americans find meaningful employment.

Read her full op-ed at Bloomberg Law.

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