Monday, June 28, 2021

A Day Without A Mexican

“One way you might define normal is when employers and workers have the same idea of what an appropriate package looks like, and then the issue is matching up the people with the jobs,” said Katharine G. Abraham, an economist at the University of Maryland and a former commissioner at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Clearly part of the problem now,” she said, “is that what employers and what workers think is out of whack.”

Uh...ya think?

 “They know how in demand they are,” said Angelic Hobart, a client service manager at American Staffing who occupied a table at the Maryland Heights job fair. “And I think that is being taken advantage of.” She said she had dozens of manufacturing, warehouse, sales, office and technology positions to fill. But public benefits have made people “very complacent,” she said. And sometimes “their pay expectations are way over what their skill level is.”

Many of the 34 employers and agencies at the job fair said they had raised wages by $1 an hour or more in recent months. And they shared a refrain: There were good jobs available but not enough good workers to fill them, those who were reliable and were willing to work hard.

That’s not the way Elodie Nohone saw it. “They’re offering $10, $12, $13,” said Ms. Nohone, who already earns $15 an hour as a visiting caregiver and was hoping to find a higher-paying opportunity. “There’s no point in being here.”

Her boyfriend, Damond Green, was making his way around the room. He holds two jobs, one at McDonald’s, where after seven years he earns $15 an hour, and another providing home health care. He and Ms. Nohone have a baby on the way, and Mr. Green is looking for one job with higher pay. “Two jobs stretch you thin,” he said.

“I want to do something where my work is appreciated,” he said, “and pay me decent.” His goal is to earn $50,000 a year, or about $25 an hour — roughly the median earnings of wage and salaried employees in the United States.

"Taken advantage of."  Yeah, because workers only deserve the pay employers are willing to give them. Poverty sucks, but you don't deserve better.

The labor market’s deeper problem, said Francine D. Blau, an economist at Cornell University, is the proliferation of low-paid jobs with few prospects for advancement and too little income to cover essential expenses like housing, food and health care.

The pandemic focused attention on many of these low-wage workers, who showed up to deliver food, clean hospital rooms and operate cash registers. “The pandemic put their lives at risk,” Ms. Blau said, “and we began to wonder if we are adequately remunerating a lot of the core labor we need to function as an economy and society.” 

Remember that old joke about "They can't fire us, slaves have to be sold!"?  More truth in that than humor:

Hundreds of jobs were being offered at the fair. A home health care agency wanted to hire aides for $10.30 an hour, the state’s minimum, to care for disabled children or mentally impaired adults. There were no benefits, and you would need a car to get from job to job. An ice rink, concert and entertainment center was looking for 80 people, paying $10.30 to $11.50 for customer service representatives and $13 for supervisors. But the jobs last just through the busy season, a few months at time, and the schedules, which often begin at 5 a.m., change from week to week.

In St. Louis, a single person needs to earn $14 an hour to cover basic expenses at a minimum standard, according to M.I.T.’s living-wage calculator. Add a child, and the needed wage rises just above $30. Two adults working with two children would each have to earn roughly $21 an hour. 

What to do with these ingrates who don't want to work for shit?

Among job seekers interviewed at job fairs and employment agencies in the St. Louis area the week after the benefit cutoff, higher pay and better conditions were cited as their primary motivations. Of 40 people interviewed, only one — a longtime manager who had recently been laid off — had been receiving unemployment benefits. (The maximum weekly benefit in Missouri is $320.)

In St. Louis, the Element Hotel held a job fair to hire servers, bartenders and front-desk receptionists. Housekeepers were especially in demand. Janessa Corpuz, the general manager, had come in on a Sunday with her teenage daughter to do laundry because of the shortage.

The hotel, which is on a major bus line, raised its starting wage to $13.50 an hour, the second increase in two months. It also offers benefits and a $50-a-month transportation allowance. The number of applicants shot up — to 40 from a handful the previous month — after the second wage increase. 

Take this job and shove it!  For real, this time.

(Remember that movie, "A Day Without A Mexican"?  America has always had more than a bit of classism in its racism, and many a "poor white" is regarded as no better than a "lazy [fill in the racial group/epithet of your choice here]."  Yes, there are bad employees; but just as much, there are bad employers. I've worked for more than a few of them, and the number that hire the majority of the overworked and underpaid is quite high.  Who wants to work for an asshole?) 


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