We have 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.
The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.
The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.
In New Zealand our equivalent, Trade Me, is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. Trade Me should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.
Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night. At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week. Let’s make that $200.
Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it. It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them.
So how would it work?
The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240.
The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done. Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.
It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.
The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.
So basically the benefit abates.
Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.
The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.
The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.
Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.
You could trial this with the long-term unemployed – those who have been on the unemployment benefit for over six months.