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A make-work job is a job that has less immediate financial benefit to the economy than the job costs to support. Make-work jobs are similar to workfare but are publicly offered on the job market and have otherwise normal employment requirements (workfare jobs, in contrast, may be handed out to a randomly selected applicant or have special requirements such as continuing to search for a non-workfare job).
Make-work jobs are considered to be harmful when they provide very little practical experience and training so that they can't work as a bridge to careers.
As a part of New Deal, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration provided $500 million for relief operations by states and cities, while the short-lived CWA (Civil Works Administration) gave localities money to operate make-work projects in 1933-34. Economists like Milton Friedman considered those programs like the CCC and WPA as a justified temporary response to an emergency. Friedman gave Roosevelt considerable credit for relieving immediate distress and restoring confidence.
In a socialist nationalised economy, several of the nationalized sectors of work can be considered as make work jobs, whereby the industry being worked in does not necessarily make a profit, but is considered essential by the state to the national interest. In practice, however, the phrase "make-work" is more commonly only used for work that is both of negative financial benefit and also not considered to be of any other particular benefit to the national interest.
Make-work jobs have been introduced during periods of high unemployment to provide a substitute for a regular job. In many European countries the social welfare system provides cash transfers for those unable to secure employment. These programs often require the recipient to undertake job training, internships, or job rotations. A make-work job can have the benefit of giving the employee a chance to meet new people, and learn how to work with others. The job can also help the worker to learn the importance of being on time to work and taking responsibility for their actions. Many of these skills could be transferred into regular jobs or educational training in the future.  Some of the jobs being introduced in Denmark in 2014 are working in gardens, beach cleanups, reading to the elderly or disabled, washing toys in daycares, working with local bike programs, counting cars, or removing dog feces from sidewalks. These jobs can last for 4 to 13 weeks and the workers are essentially working for their social welfare benefits.
- Peter Doeringer, B. Vermeulen, Jobs and Training in the 1980s, Boston Studies in Applied Economics, Springer, 1981, ISBN 9780898380620, p. 196
- David Edwin Harrell et al. (2005). Unto A Good Land: A History Of The American People. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 902–. ISBN 0802837182.
- Milton Friedman; Rose D. Friedman (1981). Free to Choose. Avon Books. p. 85. ISBN 0-380-52548-8.
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