Persistently high unemployment in the wake of the Great Recession is one of the great economic challenges of our time. Twenty-four million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, or have left the workforce discouraged. Fewer things are harder on families than the inability to find a job. Unemployment not only threatens the financial security of jobless Americans and their families, but also robs the broader economy of production and wealth creation and produces a wide range of painful and damaging social problems.

In March of 2011, John Dearie, the Financial Services Forum’s Executive Vice President for Policy, and Courtney Geduldig, the Forum’s General Counsel and Managing Director for Government Affairs, came to me and proposed a major initiative on job creation. At that time, unemployment remained above 9 percent, despite the unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy measures taken by Congress, the White House, and the Federal Reserve. Policymakers needed new ideas, my colleagues argued, and the Forum should try to help.

For those not aware of our organization, the Financial Services Forum is a financial and economic policy group comprised of the chief executives of 19 of the largest financial institutions operating in the United States. The group was organized by its founding members to deliberate on the major financial and economic challenges facing Washington policymakers and to offer well-considered potential policy solutions. The Forum is strictly nonpartisan; ...

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