Workers are the backbone of America but the backbone has been aching for some time and needs immediate and serious attention – through job creation policies.
On Labor Day this year, the Economic Policy Institute reports that over 14.9 million American workers remain unemployed while food services and home health aides, vocations that pay only slightly more than minimum wage, are the fastest growing jobs in the United States. In San Diego County, one-third of working families do not earn $13.13 an hour, which is the minimum amount required to meet basic needs.
Often the unemployed feel rejected while chronic joblessness drains charitable and non-profit resources and diminishes local government’s ability to provide safety net social services for families. During these harsh economic times many households are worried about losing their homes or health insurance, and stressed out about being able to feed their family or meet financial obligations. The effect of low paying jobs and chronic unemployment is more than merely an economic issue to all Americans – it strikes at the heart and soul of our families and weakens our communities.
Real prosperity in America can only be generated from the ground up through employment from jobs that produce goods and services — by real labor. When workers earn, their income enters the stream of commerce and is spent on housing, and in retail stores, local restaurants, and car dealerships and other businesses. In turn, American jobs generate income for our cash-strapped local governments to pay for public services such as fire protection, schools, libraries, transportation and waste and water treatment plants.
As the national jobless rate rises and wages fall, we must contemplate actions which put Americans back to work and into higher paying jobs. Our nation’s job policies should focus on creating infrastructure jobs, retrofitting buildings and revitalizing manufacturing and other plants because these jobs require U.S. labor. These jobs will secondarily produce delivery, clerical, and other various skill-level jobs.
Job creation must be accomplished through partnership with private, public and labor segments. Because the government plays an important role in helping to finance jobs through state and national economic policy and legislation, Americans must demand that economic policies provide the framework to create good paying jobs at home during the next decade with the least amount of outsourced labor and materials.
A solid way to build our economy that goes far beyond mere job creation is to commit $100 billion annually in public investments over the next decade for energy-saving retrofit jobs. The Economic Policy Institute’s April 2009 report asserts this investment “would yield an increase of $160 billion in output over the next two years which translates into 1.1 million jobs created.”
Retrofitting existing buildings with energy efficient techniques and equipment and retooling our manufacturing industries provides immediate jobs and decreases environmentally induced illnesses.
As a nation, rebuilding our outdated energy, transportation, communication, sewage and water infrastructures and manufacturing plants with investment from national, state and private sources will substantially impact our long term economic development and is a matter of national security.
On Labor Day, while many will spend leisurely time with friends and family, be sure to forward this article to your local state and federal representatives and remind them — there are over 14.9 million Americans without jobs — Americans need a job.
Tracy Emblem is an attorney in Escondido.