When One City Gave People Cash, They Went Out and Got Jobs

David Byrne in Reasons to be Cheerful:

Stockton, California has gotten a lot of press for its experiment in providing a basic income to its residents, but it wasn’t until a recent study looked at the first year of results that we saw proven evidence of what impacts the experimental program was having.

Besides feeling less pain and anxiety about their lives and their financial situations, a surprising percentage of the program’s recipients got jobs. By the end of the first year of the study (2019, before the pandemic began) full-time employment in the recipient group had risen from 28 percent to 40 percent — double the increase found among folks who didn’t receive the money.

This runs counter to some conventional wisdom, which says that free money disincentivizes work. Rather, the report, along with anecdotal evidence, seems to say the opposite: it is the uncertainty that low-income folks live with that makes it harder for them to find the jobs they desire. Providing this modest monetary cushion allows folks to realize their potential, which benefits the entire community.

More here.