Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Whoa. Fed governor says low-wage jobs are a problem

Even the crony capitalists are starting to realize that low-wage jobs are stifling prosperity. Federal Reserve governor Sarah Bloom Raskin says she's concerned about the quality of available jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reported:
After finding mostly security, restaurant and life guard positions at a job fair held at community college near her home, Ms. Raskin said Tuesday that she investigated the type of jobs that have been gained since the economy emerged from recession.
The onset of fast food strikes spreading across New York City, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Seattle shows how important the creation of good jobs with livable wages, healthcare, and hope of a retirement is.

Originally, fast food and other minimum wage jobs were meant as short-term jobs for teens, but have since become long-term, poverty jobs for adults.  CNN reports:
Nationally, fast food workers have a median age of 28, and two-thirds of them are women, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Such low-end jobs often have replaced jobs with salaries of $40,000 or more, sums which were enough to cover rent and food as well as transportation and insurance, according to the National Employment Law Project, an organization that campaigns for a higher hourly wage. 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most marginal jobs -- in the sense that they allow the employees to eke out the barest of livings -- will continue to dominate the labor market in the coming decade, leaving many with little choice of employment because so many of middle-income jobs have been permanently eliminated.
And the worst is yet to come – fast food job growth averaged 25,000 gained jobs per month last year – and is expected to continue the trend over time.  Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains:
Jobs are slowly returning to America, but most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 7 out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage — like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains. That’s why the median wage keeps dropping, especially for the 80 percent of the workforce that’s paid by the hour.
Without representation, low-wage workers are working on starvation wages and have little power to protect themselves from rampant wage tampering.  With seven of the decade’s 10 top fastest-growing occupations paying low-to-poverty wages, it’s important to stand up and protect workers rights.

Labor federations, including Change to Win, are supporting the fast-food strikes through campaigns such as Fight for 15 and Fast Food Forward. You can sign a petition to support the workers here.