Too many low-wage jobs
are not stepping stones
There’s a national doughnut chain that in its advertising proclaims that America runs on its products. In reality, our country seems to run on low-wage jobs. This state of affairs has been brought to light because of the reluctance of the people who fill these jobs to return to work.
The conventional wisdom has been that people remain in low-wage jobs for a limited period of time until they can find something better. Certainly, this is the case for some. However, more often than we want to acknowledge, individuals filling low-wage jobs will do so for their entire working lives. Clearly, families barely can subsist, let alone thrive, on the wages and nonexistent benefits of these jobs.
Given such a huge reliance on low-wage workers, it is overdue for government entities to more extensively support their housing, health care, child and elder care, and public transportation needs. Low-wage jobs never will sufficiently cover these needs, and most businesses cannot increase wages enough to do so.
Addressing these areas in a comprehensive way would be a solid investment to create a stable workforce. It’s evident that the economy struggles when low-wage workers are not available in the numbers needed. Making sure their basic needs are met so that they can work with some level of health and well-being should be viewed as part of a durable economic infrastructure.
We need to stop thinking that most low-wage workers are in a temporary situation as they climb the economic ladder. By and large, this is a myth. A predictable support structure to help meet the basic living needs of these essential workers is the right thing to do and also would be beneficial to the economy.