The Build Back Better Act, while still not a done deal, now has a path toward passage in the House of Representatives, with a vote expected mid-November. The political wrangling to reach this moment has been tortuous. But the promise of the pending bill that could transform millions of lives—with meaningful investments in child care, long-term care, and universal pre-K, among others—is critical for a thriving modern economy that will boost productivity and deliver relief to strained family budgets.
Here, we update a previous analysis to reflect the latest state of the legislation and assess its potential impact on U.S. labor markets. Overall, we estimate that the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) will provide support for 2.3 million jobs per year in its first five years, shown in detail in Table 1, below. Add to this an estimated 772,000 jobs per year supported by the bipartisan infrastructure deal, also referred to as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed last Friday in the House, and you get more than 3 million jobs supported per year.
With the U.S. economy still running at least 5.5 million jobs short relative to its pre-pandemic trajectory, sustained support for job creation is a key benefit of the plan, but the economic impact will be much farther reaching. For example, roughly half of the jobs supported by BBBA result from new and expanded caregiving initiatives for universal pre-K (332,000 jobs per year), child care (574,000), and long-term care (238,000). Good jobs in these industries—where workers are deeply undervalued and underpaid—are just the tip of the iceberg that will also help get more parents back into the workforce and relieve the exorbitant financial burdens of child care and long-term care weighing on working families.
As 17 Nobel Prize winners in economics recently highlighted, BBBA is a supply-side economic plan that enables more working-age people to participate productively in the U.S. economy and invests in the long-term achievement of younger generations. Such policies provide a countervailing force against current inflationary pressures and provide insurance against the economic recovery faltering under too little policy support—a costly mistake made during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
With the plan fully paid for, transforming the U.S. economy to be more equitable, efficient, sustainable, and prosperous should be a no-brainer. Yet there is still more work to be done to meet all of America’s pressing social and economic challenges, and more fiscal policy space available for Congress to pursue those goals.