Like millions of Americans, I was unemployed last year. The Alaskan hotel I’d worked at since 2017 shut its doors for the 2020 season since its business relied on the cruise ship industry, which in a normal non-pandemic summer brings more than a million tourists to Alaska.

I’ve spent my entire working life in customer service and have many friends in the service industry. When tourism and indoor dining vanished in March 2020, we all worried our jobs were gone forever. Fast-forward to 2021: Hourly employees are this summer’s hottest commodity. With nearly half the U.S. population now fully vaccinated, all evidence suggests our economy will make a quick recovery.

Everywhere seems to be hiring. A recent banner outside the Taco Bell on Route 40 proclaimed, “NOW HIRING, TEXT NACHO to 8500.” I stop by Giant for groceries and pass through an entrance with huge lettering: NOW HIRING, LOVE WHERE YOU WORK. As I grab a carton of eggs in the dairy aisle, I see yet another sign affixed to the clear refrigerator door: Apply now at giantfood.com. Across the street from Giant is a billboard for Royal Farms: “We’re Hiring.”

I was angry to see service employees lauded as “essential” and “heroes” during last year’s pandemic. Cashiers, restaurant workers and store clerks have always been essential. These so-called “unskilled” jobs keep our economy and our everyday lives functional, especially throughout COVID-19. All of 2020’s useless lip service in no way makes up for decades of lawmakers failing to give these employees a decent, livable wage.

One of the biggest issues of our post-pandemic economy will be how businesses can attract staff. What will incentivize jobless Americans living on generous government stimulus money to return to work?

I love seeing corporations beg and plead with potential employees. Some have gotten creative: Wawa offers a $100 hiring bonus plus $75 if you’re vaccinated. Applebee’s hosted a National Hiring Day where anyone who submitted a job application qualified for a free appetizer. Seriously? A couple hundred bucks and free food are laughable compensation for years of mistreatment and low pay.

It’s doubly frustrating to see Congress debate worker pay and unemployment benefits since many senators and representatives are independently wealthy and have never worked a low wage job. Or haven’t worked one since, like, 1970 when the minimum wage was $1.60, which inflated to today’s dollars would be $11.05, far greater than the current federal rate of $7.75.

One of the goals Biden announced for his administration is to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. In the meantime, many companies (including Costco, Target and Amazon) have increased their starting pay to $15. It’s about time service work is recognized as valuable, not with “thank you heroes!” yard signs but practical, tangible stuff like more money.

Current worker shortages may handicap certain industries in the short term. But if it ultimately leads to fair pay for all Americans, our country will be the better for it. In the meantime, I hope those Americans take all the federal aid and unemployment insurance money that they need. They deserve a break from years of penny-pinching, corporation-favoring government policies.

What relief to see workers gaining more power. Workers who, throughout a lifetime of low pay and financial hardship, manage to survive. They take on a second job, move in with family, max out yet another credit card. It’s only suitable that our leaders and big businesses must now take on some of the burden of “making ends meet.”

Alexandra DeArmon grew up in Frederick. Her current job pays her $14.25 an hour. Reach her at xandra.dearmon@gmail.com

(61) comments

bosco

Has anyone here read "The Richest Man In Babylon"? If so, how does it apply to this discussion?

gabrielshorn2013

"Arkhad" was a wise man. My kids were taught these valuable lessons.

largegrumpycat

My dad used to say "You get what you pay for." If you want employees, pay them enough to live and learn how to schedule so that they have a family life. If employers continue to underpay, schedule like a cat on a hot tin roof and ignore the fact that employees are people, then they will not attract applicants. It is not rocket science, people.

francesca_easa

Second observation. I have personally experienced where some of the businesses who claim to be "desperate for help", fail to get back to me or my friends, return phone calls or emails, or make some ridiculous caveats as a condition of employment (e.g., you must have experience in Bugaboo software). They can't take the time to train a capable person? Some employers just seem to enjoy interviewing thousands of people before making a decision. Post fake jobs continuously. Or prefer to hire a ton of part time workers that they have to offer no benefits or OT too. So employers are also complicit in the problem.

Dwasserba

This rings true. I remember applying for a job I was qualified for - in a new direction I wanted to go. Enduring a stress interview at a table for seven then being called repeatedly to reassure me I was the front runner as they continued to interview and so did I. But that was the job I wanted. I was called immediately after they hired someone else, weeks after I interviewed. I asked, and was told that person was interviewed the previous day. I wasn’t a fresh memory, I was the one others were compared against. Three months later I was called again, their hire was leaving already. I had a temp job and agreed to come in to “refresh their memory.” My husband freaked. It had not occurred to me it only promised just another interview. I called back and said no thank you.

francesca_easa

I am sorry for your experience Deb. That's really inconsiderate of the employer and would NOT have happened 20 years ago. If you haven't watched Nomadland, I highly recommend it. Quite an eye opening experience on folks who are barely getting by. Also read "Nickeled and Dimed in America".

MD1756

Francesca, some companies post job openings they have no intention of hiring an American for. They post job openings where people may not find them and then use it as support that there are no qualified Americans and so they must have an H-1B applicant (at a significantly lower wage of course). My brother who had a MS in EE and Math ran into this on a number of occasions and at one company in Germantown/Gaithersburg MD, he had to train his H-1B replacement before they laid off my brother. The H-1B employee did not have the experience my brother had but he can cheaper. The company's name began with a W and ended with Research.

francesca_easa

I consider anyone who works to be essential to their employer and an expert in their roles at work. There was a time when people got paid good salaries in America and could afford nice things -- not necessarily high end stuff. My question to all is, how is it that Aldi can pay $13.60 to start in the stores and $17+ in the warehouse -- higher than their competitors. And still offer reasonably priced products. FedEx and UPS may cost you more to ship, but they are booming and offer much better wages than the Postal Service.

artandarchitecture

Restaurateurs Begin To Automate Amid Labor Shortage - Tyler Durden, 5/14/2021

https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/restaurateurs-begin-automate-amid-labor-shortage

Report: ONE-THIRD of California’s Restaurants PERMANENTLY CLOSED Because of Pandemic - HANNAH BLEAU, 22 May 2021

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/05/22/one-third-californias-restaurants-permanently-closed-pandemic/

shiftless88

Yes, because people realize that it is not worth the pay. Simple. I thought you liked supply and demand?

Piedmontgardener

My daughter lost a superb paying job in DC waiting tables. She, like you, moved home. Her brother worked through in a restaurant locally. She's picked back up her old job in the medical field and has 10 applications pending for graduate school in the medical field. While I agree, 100% percent about your comments valuing service workers, having waited tables myself in my 20's, it's also not a model for a career except for a lucky few who will battle against corporate money and do something on their own that is successful in the restaurant business. We can and should do things to anchor a more stable working class life for people who predominately work in the service business. But it never should be a goal to land there permanently as a worker.

MD1756

Think about those successful restaurant owners. How many of them pay wages to develop successful staff who go on to better careers? We really don't need restaurants (certainly not as many as we have in this country). If some go under ... too bad, but they weren't really doing much for those who worked for them.

sevenstones1000

“Should”? What a privileged life you and your children lead. Yes, no one”should” ever spend their lives in restaurant service or grocery store support. They should all go to grad school.

Piedmontgardener

Ok. Whatever you say. If you get that starched over the comment, there's no reason to argue further, we'll agree to disagree and move on.

gabrielshorn2013

I wonder if Ms. DeArmon would support government forcing her to pick the most expensive item off the shelf if the items that are all the same when she is shopping? After all, that is exactly what she wants businesses to be forced to do. Wages are set by supply and demand, and unless you are the business owner, labor is a cost to the business. Can the business absorb the added cost, or will that make customers of that business change their purchasing habits? How elastic is the price of their good or service? What differentiates those workers to be worth a higher pay than the others in the labor pool? Is there higher productivity with that higher wage? Just like Ms. DeArmon's personal budget requiring choice when shopping, businesses must also make a choice when "purchasing" someone's labor. Furthermore, as labor costs increase, the cost of automating their jobs becomes more attractive. Robots can work 24/7 without lunch breaks, time off, etc. For example, McDonalds now uses kiosks instead of counter staff, many stores such as Walmart and Wegmans have self checkout stands, etc. As the low-skilled labor pool is squeezed out by automation, that low-skilled labor pool will grow as demand for their services decreases. Read Andrew Yang's book "The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future". Develop a skill that keeps your services in demand, thereby getting a well-paying job.

JerryR

👍👍

shiftless88

So you are okay with exploited workers with no minimum wage, no safety standards, no OSHA and so forth? That is the logical extension of what you desire; no government interference in the free market. To me, having a wage floor is perfectly reasonable in our society.

gabrielshorn2013

Where did I say anything about safety and OSHA, shiftless? Thats a red herring. If you are for a government-mandated wage floor, then you should have no problem being forced into paying more at certain suppliers when you can get it cheaper somewhere else, right? Is that how you buy food or gasoline? How do you address the other economic facts in my post?

shiftless88

You did not, Gabe, but that is the same logic. You dislike a government mandated wage because it is artificial. So is OSHA. By your logic, businesses should be able to skip OSHA requirements and if the market brings them workers willing to accept the risk then that is just fine according to you. But we are not a poor country. We can afford to make sure that people are not exploited and we should.

gabrielshorn2013

Shiftless, you have stretched any logic beyond the modulus of elasticity with this response. It is not the same logic, or situation. Of course there should be safe workplaces whenever it is possible. Even coal mines and commercial fishing (some of the most dangerous workplaces) have safety rules. When will you address the other facts I presented, instead of deflecting? Can a worker's wage exceed the value (to the customer) of the good or service being offered? If the price elasticity is low, an increase in price causes a change in purchasing behavior (i.e. the business loses customers). ECON-101. The CBO has already said that a raise to $15 will cause the loss of over 1.5 million jobs in the unskilled labor market. Then what? Read Yang's book, or ask any economist. I am sure you shop for the best price for the goods and services you provide, and if you chose a higher priced item, there must be something that differentiates that item from all the lower priced items which are exactly the same. Any other behavior is illogical. The labor market is no different. You purchase a given labor skillset at the prevailing wage. As their skills increase, so should their wage.

gabrielshorn2013

"...for the goods and services you provide"

should read "...for the goods and services you purchase"

shiftless88

You argument goes against any wage floor. Is that what you advocate? But while an increase to $15/yr might reduce total jobs, those who ARE working will be better off and no longer in need of public assistance. I am okay with supporting far fewer people so the rest can be independent. And for the record, I support local businesses even when the price is higher. I have the privilege and use it. I do not shop purely for the lowest price.

gabrielshorn2013

OK shiftless, I'll try one more time. Will you please answer this question? Can a worker's wage exceed the value (to the customer) of the good or service being offered, given that if the price elasticity for said good or service is low, an increase in price causes a change in purchasing behavior (i.e. the business loses customers)?

gabrielshorn2013

Shiftless, also, in your response you use locality as a differentiator in your purchasing decisions. That is a value to you, and you are willing to pay more for it (and for the record, I do the same). That's how the market works. However, when all outputs (quality, etc.) are equal, the vast majority of people will then purchase on price.

shiftless88

Gabe; are you telling me everyone will stop going to McDonald's if the minimum wage increases to $15? I should point out that it is already $15 in some states or localities and people still go. I think price elasticity is not quantitative. You also ignore the fact that the owners of many of these places make big bucks and if they REALLY wanted to, they could easily accommodate the salary increase without raising prices (at least not raising them substantially). Heck, the Waltons can easily afford to pay more.

gabrielshorn2013

Shiftless, why is every scenario an absolute with you? No, not EVERYONE will stop going to McDonald’s if the minimum wage is raised to $15. Price elasticity is not a knife-edge analysis, it is a sloped line. However, those that were earning less than $15 will now have to contend with losing their job, therefore, income when the cost of automation is cheaper than retaining them as employees. It’s already happening. Did you not take both Micro- and Macroeconomics in college? Yes, it is already $15 in several localities, because the market demanded it. The market is not the same all across the country, and $15/hour in Maryland does not go as far as $15/hour in Idaho or Iowa. Forcing such a wage worked in Portland, but failed in Iowa. Why? Market demand for goods and services at a price that customers will support in a given location. Look at the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports.

I am imagining this scenario:

Shiftless: "How much is that widget going for?"

Seller: "I am asking for $10"

Shiftless: “I know I can get this same exact widget everywhere else for $10, but let me give you $15"

Not a likely scenario, now is it? Let’s look at your purchasing behavior. According to your philosophy, we should not be purchasing less-expensive Chinese-made goods, because it hurts American workers, right? How many Chinese-made goods do you have in the room you’re sitting in right now, let alone your entire house. It is the logical extension of your argument. Why are Chinese-made goods much less expensive (have you shopped on Amazon lately?)? The cost of labor is pennies to the dollar of what it costs for labor to make goods in the US. Should Chinese-made goods be made to cost the same as US-made goods? That’s called a tariff, and I believe you argued against such practices previously. As I suggested earlier, read Andrew Yang’s book. The low-skilled labor pool will keep growing as opportunities for their employment fade due increases in costs, which is remedied by automation. You still have not answered if it was possible for the cost of labor to exceed what a business owner can get customers to pay for their product. Such a company would be out of business, pronto. You can argue your personal opinion all you want, and it is your right to do so, but the American public votes with their pocketbook, and that has been proven time and again.

MD1756

There is nothing wrong with a wage floor, the question is where to set pay for non-skilled labor. Raise it too high and then you'll either have to pay skilled labor more or you'll start losing skilled labor because the costs to develop the skills may not be worth it. Should someone who decides their life career is waiting tables or mowing grass or cleaning offices be paid enough to raise as many children as they want (and thus contribute more to climate change and other environmental problems)?

shiftless88

Based on many, many indicators, the current wage floor is too low for much of the US. It is also shameful that restaurants can pay so much below the wage floor. The wage floor does not have to make you rich, but it should be sufficient that you do not need welfare.

JerryR

By all logic, Shiftless believes in eminent domain - we must take your land for the greater good!! Hahaha!! Therefore, we must lose 1.5 million jobs for the greater good!! Priceless, just priceless.

shiftless88

JerryR; apparently you are unfamiliar with taxes. They are collected for the greater good.

MD1756

[thumbup]

Dwasserba

I’ve heard it pays well but it’s really hard to work where robots work.

MD1756

Face it, some jobs are not meant to be career jobs. If you don't want to earn minimum wage, get an useful education and/or develop job skills that are in demand. Don't expect to be able to raise a family on a shelf stocker's, room cleaner's, etc. wages.

bosco

Well said, MD1756. It's also helpful to put some hustle in your bustle and pep in your step too. Businesses are always looking for someone with some drive to move up.

phydeaux994

Once again, it’s a bunch of White people who take opportunity for a good education and employment for granted. Huge numbers of people in the U.S. are not privy to that same situation. That’s what the Protests of the past year and Critical Race Theory are trying to pound into the heads of the White Power Structure. That’s what people are trying to change. Racism is built in to the American way of doing business. I’ve seen it where I worked for 42 years, I’ve heard it voiced by hundreds of people over my 80 years. I hear it here on the FNPOF every day I log on. Racial Equality does not exist in this Country. We must change that. All of us.

JerryR

Fido - I'm a white guy, for sure. I grew up in Fredrick, lived here for over 47 years and waited tables, worked construction, etc. while working my way through college. But I don't and never will take anything I have for granted. No one gave me nuthin', I earned it all myself (with my wifey). I studied hard, I got my degree, and applied myself. No white privilege BS, I worked hard. All my black friends who are successful did the same thing. Those who didn't, white or black, all I can say is that they made their choices. You can take this white supremacy BS and shove it in your ear. You need to get real and quit drinkin' the freakin' Kool Aide!!

MD1756

To use on of Gary's favorite words...Piffle. While racism certain is a factor it is not the only factor so when one bring up only the race issue, they are being unrealistic and are not likely to solve the problem.

phydeaux994

“During a brief period in the Reconstruction era, 1865-1877, African Americans voted in large numbers and held public office at almost every level, including in both houses of Congress. ***However, this provoked a violent backlash from whites who did not want to relinquish supremacy.*** The backlash succeeded, and the promises of Reconstruction were mostly unfulfilled. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were unenforced but remained on the books, forming the basis of the mid-20th-century civil rights movement.”.......... And the backlash continues to this day. Right JerryR, MD, bosco, BTT(BullyTagTeam), RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans)? Our Democracy is in danger because this Racism continues.

gabrielshorn2013

Phy, just a question. Are the only people making minimum wage black, or another minority? No, not hardly. The author of this column certainly isn't. She is a college-educated woman of a politically privileged family who chose a job where she feels underpaid. She chose her path, and now complains about her income. So why the laser focus on only one facet of a complex issue?

phydeaux994

Not the only one gab but certainly the major one, Racism over the past 402 years and especially since the end of the Civil War is tearing America apart. Look what is happening all over the Country, White Supremacists passing Legislation to keep minorities away from the polls. Why? What do you call that gab? Demonizing those Protesting for Racial Justice, calling them Marxists and criminals. Excusing the rioters on January 6 carrying Confederate Flags, calling the Police racial epithets and destroying the Capitol Building. You tell me what other problems in this Country are more destructive than Racism, not just against Blacks but against everyone not White and blatant anti-semitism, hate crimes soaring all over America. This Forum is a microcosm of what is happening in America, denying that Racism exists, that White Privilege and Critical Racial Theory are just Liberal fantasies to shame White people. You tell me then why we hate each other.

gabrielshorn2013

Phy, while what you are saying may be factual and true, it is nonetheless only a part of the issue and tangential to the topic of this story. I understand that you are passionate about this subject, but there are many, many other economic factors in play here. As I mentioned to shiftless, import/export issues play a huge part in competitiveness. He mentions the Walton family and Walmart. Say Walmart voluntarily increases their bottom wage to $15, thus increasing their costs and profitability if they do not pass those costs on to customers. If they do pass those costs on to customers, it opens the opportunity to sell the exact same products to competitors who did not raise their prices, thus causing Walmart to lose revenue. If you mandate that ALL minimum wages be $15 in the US, then that gives foreign manufacturers, such as those in China, an even larger competitive advantage than they already have. US manufacturers will either stop making those goods in the US, offshore the manufacture of those goods to a foreign subsidiary, or import the same items from Chinese manufacturers. The manufacturing sector loses, and is exactly what has happened in the generic drug industry. Look at your medication bottle and see who the manufacturers are. They are most likely from India or China, where the labor costs are pennies on the dollar. Most businesses in the US are considered small, with a minimum number of employees. Artificially increasing their labor costs, without an acceptance to pay the increased cost by the consumer causes those small businesses to not be competitive. What do you do then with them and their employees now that they are out of work because large companies with the ability to absorb those costs out-competed them? This is what happened in farming and agribusiness. In the service industries, margins are extremely thin on a per-unit basis, and make their profit based on volume. If labor becomes too expensive, automation will replace them. Look at what has already happened in the food service industries. Economic analysis is a multi-faceted and highly complex issue. You pull on one thread in the web, and all of the others move.

phydeaux994

gab I am passionate about the subject because I have lived about 40 of my 80 years in very diverse middle class neighborhoods where race is never an issue. Why? Because all the people live next door to each other and their kids go to the same schools and they play on the same teams and everyone comes to the backyard cookouts and they all have common goals, to provide for their families and live happy lives. So there is no fear of one another even though they may have been raised in different cultures and have different customs and attend different Churches. This whole Right Wing philosophy is about FEAR, fear of things you’ve been taught to fear for generations but never experienced. People are people, they’re only different because they don’t know any different. And they are too afraid too learn about it.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed with all that phy. You already know about my Creole background. You apparently lived in Utopia previously, which makes one wonder what brought you to Frederick if you don't like it here?

phydeaux994

We found a brand new house in Sep. 2008 that was $127,000 cheaper than the same model sold for in 2006. It is about equidistant from our Grandkids in Catonsville and McLean. We back up to a small park where we can walk our dogs and watch the kids play ball and play in the Playground. We have a clear view of the mountains and some beautiful sunsets. We can drive a mile one way and be in farmland and five miles another way to Wegmans and Walmart. What’s not to like?? Having lived in upper MoCo and Howard County and spending a few Friday nights at Eylers Horse Auction to supply or daughters horse obsession we were aware of Frederick County’s reputation as a KKK stronghold but figured that was long gone. WRONG!! After a couple of LTE’s to the FNP supporting Barack Obama and the following reaction in the FNPOF, we were shocked to realize how wrong we were. So we don’t talk politics to our neighbors and all is well. We love it here.

shiftless88

So, MD; how do you propose someone with no skills and no money get a useful education and/or develop skills that are in demand?

MD1756

First thing is don't waste your opportunity while getting a public education (k-12 or now pre-K - 12). Shiftless, do you really have to ask? There are many ways if one really wants something more than a mindless no skill job, even if one has to have roommates in order to save money to pay for an education, training, etc. One can also join the military to earn money and receive training. One can volunteer. One can attend a community college or vocational school. It is not an insurmountable challenge if one has the will. Anyone who has children but doesn't save for their children's post high school education is putting their children at a disadvantage and maybe should consider doing the worlds a favor (climate change and all that) and not have children or not have more than one can afford to help. I studied in school, got moderately good grades and pursued an education that resulted in useful skills MBA and Chem Eng degrees. I could have had more fun in college if I earned only a history degree but that would most likely not have afforded me the lifestyle I wanted. It's mostly about life decisions and drive.

gabrielshorn2013

👍👍👍 md1756!

bosco

Good answer MD1756. (I suspect shiftless knew that and was just trolling.) All of the things you mentioned require one to get off their keister and do something rather than just waiting for the government (with everybody else's money) to provide for you.

shiftless88

You are assuming that this is a healthy individual with some access to capital and sufficient education and intelligence to learn more. That they mentally have the will (do you believe everyone has the same will? Do you believe that successful athletes are only that way because they willed themselves into the NBA?). Not everyone is eligible for the military. Education is expensive. Perhaps they made a poor choice as a 16 year old and had a kid (because, as we know, sex ed is verboten and proper family planning services cost money). Maybe they were abused as kids and don't have the attention span. Lots of things. Do you think the 40 year old bagging groceries decided he did not want to be a Wall Street broker and bags groceries because he has fun doing that? The fact is that not everyone CAN do more, especially in a country like ours with marginal safety nets. I wish education were free. I wish health care was part of our default system. I wish that child care was more available to those who need it. And yes, I am willing to pay more for that.

beyoungjr

[thumbup]

gabrielshorn2013

Shiftless, there is currently a dearth of trained truck drivers with their CDL. There are programs for free training and licensing in Maryland. Driving with a CDL is a good paying job. That is just one of many examples. It all comes down to ambition, and if you want more money, get a job that has a demand for your skillset. The guy who goofed off in school has only himself to blame if they have no marketable skills, and the probability is high that such behavior will carry over into their work attitude. There are choices, and consequences for making poor choices in life. We can correct our poor early choices at a later time (I did), but nobody says it is easy to do do (It certainly is not, and you'll have to make many more sacrifices).

MD1756

gabrielshorn, I've read where there is a shortage of about 60,000 long haul drivers nationally and some companies are paying significant signing bonuses. See: from Bloomberg - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-24/u-s-truck-driver-shortage-is-on-course-to-double-in-a-decade or see: https://www.mhlnews.com/labor-management/article/21157976/why-is-there-still-a-truck-driver-shortage

Much of Shiftless' comment amounts to an easy cop out. It should go without saying there will always be a few exceptions, but too many issues seem to be poor choices rather than mental or physical capability. Ever since the Eagles' " "Life's Been Good" song, I've wanted a Maserati that does 185, but the problem is I don't want to work that hard for it. I wonder if someone on this discussion page will buy one for me since I don't have the will to work hard enough for it. Same goes for people who want to have children...you want children you had better work for it and not expect others to be forced to pay to help you add to the climate change problem.

gabrielshorn2013

Spot-on MD1756 [thumbup]

JerryR

Shifty - there are opportunities to get money for education and skills training all over the place, especially for minorities. all one has to do is look and apply, then apply yourself to it!

shiftless88

Again, you are assuming a healthy, intelligent person with a solid baseline of skills. Medical problems ace out a lot of people from, to use Gabe's example, driving trucks. There are millions of people without the cognitive skills to do complex tasks. This is not always their fault. Poor nutrition, lack of parenting, medical issues like ADHD or what have you. I understand; for the privileged person growing up who screwed off in high school there are good paths to recover. For many there just is not. And yes, people make stupid choices as a youth and that hampers them as adults, in some cases severely. But there is a reason we separate juveniles from adults in consequences for criminal behavior. Unfortunately that does not carry over to other things they might have done at 14 that then haunts them for decades.

MD1756

Even the federal government hires those with significantly below average cognitive function. At the EPA all of the people I saw who delivered our mail internally. There are some who cannot be employed and guess what... they get disability payment not higher unemployment checks. It's simple, if you are unemployable you don't get unemployment (for having lost a job) you get disability.

MD1756

Shiftless, the article is talking about pay for work, not those who are unemployable. I'm astounded by the outrage now seems to exist that didn't exist before the pandemic. I've already said there should be a minimum wage, and I agree that it should more or less keep pace with inflation (at least on average). What I don't agree with is paying someone a more than reasonable wage for work that should be entry level jobs (no skill required) such as mowing, waiting tables, cleaning offices, etc., and thus making skilled labor less valuable because the closer one can earn the wage of skilled labor without putting the time and effort into developing the skills, the lower the incentive is to obtain skills. I worked 5 summers at a parks department in a town in NY (probably over a thousand hours of mowing grass in addition to maintenance, building new fences. emptying 55 gallon trash barrels (including one with a dead skunk in it), and cleaning outhouses (including when someone wiped their excrement on the walls). I wouldn't have minded doing that work as a career but for the fact that it was mostly unskilled labor with low pay. It was, however, a great summer job which even though it was minimum wage, spending money for college. My parents were smart enough to not have more children than they could afford to put through college (and none of my grandparents had college degrees). If you don't like minimum wage, develop skills (and again we are not talking about the small percentage who are legitimately physically or mentally incapable of any work. They are or should then covered under disability.

gabrielshorn2013

Well stated MD1756. There are over 8.1 million unfilled skilled labor jobs currently open in the US, and we are not just talking about those requiring advanced degrees. We’re talking about jobs like Plumber apprentices, where ob postings have increased by 24% in the past month, and jobs are sitting unfilled for an average of 29 days. We are also talking about Roofer apprentices, Carpenter helpers, Carpentry apprentices, Construction workers, Electrician helpers, Welding apprentices, Masonry apprentices, etc. where the applicant can receive OTJ training, make well above minimum wage, leading to a well-paying career in those trades. If a candidate does not want physical labor, there are many skilled jobs, including tech, that offer OTJ training that leads to a well-paying career.

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t01.htm

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210318005265/en/U.S.-Skilled-Trades-Labor-Shortage-Heightens-as-In-Demand-Jobs-Remain-Unfilled-the-Longest

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/skilled-trade-jobs-in-demand

https://www.jpmorgan.com/commercial-banking/insights/why-us-has-millions-of-unfilled-jobs

gabrielshorn2013

If you're still out there MD1756, take a look at this report from 2012 on the future labor pool skills requirements. Still on point, and directly supports our statements.

https://www.achieve.org/files/MiddleSkillsJobs.pdf

MD1756

Gabe, I had not seen that before. It gets at part of the problem when in the report it says "If today’s students are going to be able to access middle and high skills jobs, they need to graduate from high school with the core knowledge and skills that will prepare them for success in postsecondary education and training...." Well part of that problem is promoting students from one grade to another when they really haven't gained that "core knowledge" and part of that is from the pressure to close the performance gaps based on race/culture. Well one can't close the gap if for example more and more students are coming in with little ability to speak English and other parts of their education may fall behind American standards for the age. In fact it will only increase. So all these things need context, normalization, standardization, etc. I lay the primary fault of that at the parents and students and some of it lies with the education system (but I suspect it is a small part).

Additionally people talk about needing diversity and inclusivity but it really depends. After all, Japan and Germany are economic powerhouses and by most measures are successful without being terribly diverse. OPM (Office of Personnel Management) talks about "When we draw on the wisdom of a workforce that reflects the population we serve, we are better able to understand and meet the needs of our customers-the American people...." Well the population that the federal government serves includes murderers, spouse beaters, people from cultures that believe it is ok to stone women for adultery after being raped, right wing domestic terrorists, etc. We don't need that type of diversity. We also don't need diversity when trying to solve certain problems. I was on a workgroup to supposedly address targeting RCRA inspections to find more violations. Well while the workgroup was "diverse" most of the people didn't have sufficient knowledge of the RCRA program and inspection programs to know that the real problem wasn't targeting it was a combination of other issues (training, resources, some states' unwillingness to report violations identified and use enforcement, etc.). As proof for my position, our "experts" inspected 16 Treatment, Storage and Disposal facilities (TSDFs) and found significant violations at 14 of the 16 that were previously inspected (in some cases many times) by state and sometimes even Regional EPA inspectors. Yet the group plowed ahead because some higher up believed using data analytics would solve their problem despite my telling them that when by statute a TSDF facility has to be inspected every year or two years (depending on if it were owned by a governmental entity or commercially) and a large quantity generator of hazardous waste is inspected at least every five years, targeting was not the problem, it was the ability (or inability) of the inspector to find the violations that existed and when one takes 1 1/2 hours to inspect a facility that was about 1 mile by 1/2 mile there is no way the inspector could conduct the required "thorough" inspection. I also said you can't use the data alone because if an inspection fails to find a violation that does indeed exist, it through off ones data analysis further for every instance of poor inspection. All of that more or less fell on deaf ears and they plowed ahead with their "diverse" workgroup to appease upper management rather than relying on the experts opinions on where to put our limited compliance and enforcement resources for maximum protection of human health and the environment.

If we refocus our public education, I see no reason why more people shouldn't qualify for "middle skilled" jobs if students take full advantage of the free education offered to them (and their parents and/or teachers support them).

JerryR

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