Richard Branson: Universal basic income is coming

Richard Branson: Universal basic income 'will come about one day'
Richard Branson: Universal basic income 'will come about one day'

Richard Branson believes government should give everyone a paycheck, whether they have a job or not.

"I think that's really important," he told CNN's Christine Romans in an interview. "It will come about one day."

The concept is called universal basic income. It guarantees every person a minimum income regardless of age, wealth, job status, hometown or family size. Some countries are already experimenting with it.

Branson is one of many business leaders who have voiced support.

During a commencement address at Harvard last year, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas."

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For Branson, guaranteed basic income is a way to protect people who may one day lose their jobs to artificial intelligence.

His sentiments echo those of SpaceX and Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, who told CNBC last year that a universal basic income could be an outcome of automation.

Proponents of the plan say the aim is to give workers greater financial security as concerns rise about machines taking away jobs, in addition to alleviating income inequality.

Critics say the idea has good intentions, but doesn't solve bigger problems related to poor wage growth. They also say it challenges the notion that you need to work to earn money.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg supports universal basic income. What is it?

Branson recommended that cities start experimenting with a universal basic income.

Canada and Finland give guaranteed income to people who were either recently on unemployment benefits or are low income. Other countries have rejected the idea altogether. In 2016, Switzerland shot down a referendum to provide citizens with a basic income.

— CNN's Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.

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