By Kathy Mulady, peoplesaction.org
On February 28, 2017, People’s Action Institute released a report that details the dire need for jobs that pay a living wage, and for public investment in communities that are most neglected. The President’s plan could help meet that need, or it could be just another series of corporate giveaways.
The report, Prosperity, Not Poverty (thejobgap.org), shows the gap between job seekers and jobs that pay a living wage. According to the report, nationally there are seven job seekers for every job opening that pays the national single adult living wage of $17.28 per hour.
In other words, six out of seven job seekers are unlikely to find work that pays enough for a single adult to make ends meet. The odds are much worse for a single parent hoping to be paid enough to support herself and a child. Prosperity, Not Poverty includes living wage figures and job gap ratios for each state and Washington, DC (PDF), as well as the national number.
Prosperity, Not Poverty is part of the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series that has been produced since 1999.
If done right, a national infrastructure spending plan could be a key in beginning to solve multiple problems, including a lack of good paying jobs, decaying infrastructure, communities plagued by toxic emissions and runoff, and end the national dependence on fossil fuels.
Communities of color, women, and LGBTQI communities are doubly impacted, by both the lack of wealth-building work available and by living in neglected communities most in need of the public infrastructure investment.
“A strong public infrastructure plan will address the wealth gaps in marginalized communities nationwide. On the other hand, a poorly thought out plan will exacerbate all these issues and put lives and the the well-being of families even more at risk,” said Allyson Fredericksen, deputy director of research for People’s Action Institute, and author of Prosperity, Not Poverty.
“Hiring for new infrastructure jobs must focus on struggling communities, and include strong wage floor requirements,” said Fredericksen. “These same communities must also be the first to benefit from new projects, including clean water and air, access to technology, good roads and bridges. Any plan that would privatize public assets must be rejected.”
Any plan must ensure that public infrastructure doesn’t become privatized. Public services are more affordable and more accountable to the public, instead of to shareholders looking for profit or private owners with no motivation to promote public health. Public ownership can help move our nation to a green economy, protecting water and air.
Said Liz Ryan Murray, policy director for People’s Action Institute:
“Communities across the country are hungry for good jobs, clean water and systems that work. We’ll be watching closely to see if President Trump’s plan delivers or if it’s just another corporate giveaway.”
Policy Recommendations from Prosperity, Not Poverty:
If done well, public infrastructure programs and investments will benefit all, and especially marginalized communities and the places they live.
- Create high wage jobs and target hiring and training in local communities, especially marginalized communities. Wages from full-time work should be at least enough for a single adult to make ends meet.
- Increase access to affordable health coverage. Low-wage workers are less likely to have access to employer-sponsored health care than higher-wage workers.
- Strengthen Social Security so all workers can retire with dignity.
- Expand and strengthen equal opportunity statutes to apply to the LGBTQI community as well as women and people of color.
People’s Action is a powerful new force for democracy and economic fairness. From family farms to big cities, from coast to coast, we’re fighting for community over greed, justice over racism, and people and planet over big corporations. See more on the People’s Action website.