You’re a single mom who worked a minimum wage job. Your parents watched your kid while you worked.
During the pandemic, both your parents died and you were left with long-term COVID. You were laid off from your job. Now you’re finally vaccinated but still have some complications. You can’t do physical exercise, your lungs won’t allow it.
You and your child have survived all this time on unemployment alone.
You want to go back into the workforce, but it’s hard.
Schools and day care centers are shut down and those remaining open are too expensive to pay for with a $7.25-an-hour, minimum wage job. And even if you could find someone to care for the kid, where are you supposed to work? You can’t take over 50 steps without getting out of breath. You also can’t afford to go to the doctor.
And are you really willing to risk your life for just $7.25 an hour? Hell, no. So … are people really not working because they are lazy? No. They’re staying home because the pandemic showed the flaws in our system. There few affordable child care options. Not everyone is eligible for health care subsidies. American workers are exploited.
The answer to this “labor shortage” isn’t to take away unemployment benefits and try to force people back to work.
The way to get people back to work is by addressing the flaws in our system, by giving people what they need to be effective workers and paying them what they’re worth.
This really isn’t hard.
Here are a few resources to learn more about the economic burden the COVID pandemic has placed on low-wage workers:
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS Reports, “Characteristics of minimum wage workers, 2020,” (includes highlights).
- “How low-wage work could get even worse in a post-pandemic future.” CNBC.
This post originally appeared as a Twitter thread.
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