This Is How We Saved the Middle Class in the 1980s

We Faced Inequality and Unemployment 35 Years Ago. What We Did Then Could Work Again Now.

It’s easy to think that, in the world of employment and anti-poverty programs, nothing ever changes, that the same joblessness continues even as the government spends billions of dollars each year.

I know this isn’t true. For the past two years, I have been working with archivists Michael Dolgushkin and Shelby Kendrick, sifting through old files and records on employment from the 1970s and 1980s. The work is part of a California State Library research effort to catalogue employment-training strategies in California. I have worked in and with local job-training …