Amazon, Target, & Wendy's. Oh my!
This morning, I saw a Tweet from my state’s Lieutenant Governor. The second in command here in Ohio. He was calling all able-bodied Ohioans to work. Like a 2019 version of Rosie the Riveter. Summoning us to our civic duty. Get a job.
Why the urgency? Is it war? A call to help people in the Bahamas? Are we fixing our aging infrastructure?
Nope. None of those things. The need for everyone to get to work is this - Amazon, Target, and Wendy’s are hiring a combined 180,000 new workers.
Wow! That’s a lot of jobs.
Although, I soon started running that number through my head. 180,000 jobs here in Ohio? That can’t be right. All 3 companies do operate in Ohio, but adding 180,000 jobs in one state?
I searched my way to an answer. Didn’t take long.
Turns out Axios ran an article with exactly that same information.
Here’s what’s really happening. According to Axios.
Amazon has 30,000 open jobs. Both full-time and part-time. Across the United States.
Wendy’s announced that it will need 20,000 more workers to launch their breakfast menu. Across the United States.
And, Target is looking to add 130,000 temporary jobs. For the holiday rush. Across the United States.
So, why in the world would the 2nd in command call all Ohioans to work? For jobs that might not even be in Ohio?
That’s politics. That’s the political environment we live in today.
He was hoping most people are nothing like me. Checking facts on the internet. So, he throws this out there, hoping to get credit for creating new jobs.
All politicians want credit for creating new jobs. They want a reputation for building a strong economy. So, he’s using the number 180,000, which is technically accurate, in a way that conveys a certain message. That puts him in a good light.
He’s also continuing a worn-out tale. Insinuating that people who could work. Are able to work. Just don’t.
He’s saying there are plenty of jobs. More jobs than workers. And, at the same time, signaling that anyone who’s unemployed is unemployed through their own fault. Their own laziness.
And, this, is precisely where we need to be very critical in our thinking.
Saying there are 180,000 open jobs in 2019, doesn’t mean the same thing as it did in 1970. In 2019, “job” does not always mean “good job.”
Perhaps, when I was a kid, most jobs were good jobs. Jobs paid a “living wage.” Meaning that one job was sufficient to pay for housing, a car, and food. The essentials of life were within reach.
Some jobs paid more than others. That’s always been true. Always will be true. But, nearly every job paid enough that everyone could afford the essentials.
But, now? Well, now, the 180,000 jobs may not all be good jobs. They may start out at minimum wage. Here in Ohio, that’s $8.55 an hour. Which means a full-time, 40-hour a week worker, would earn $1,482.00 a month. Before taxes. Or any other deduction, like insurance or retirement savings.
Now, I get, that when you’re in school, having over a thousand bucks a month seems like a lot. It would cover a phone as well as insurance and gas for your car. So, for students, who still live at home. A minimum wage job would be a good job.
But, do me a favor. Do a quick search for an apartment complex near where you live. Look at the smallest available apartment. Like a studio or one-bedroom. See how much that costs per month. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Depending on where you live, that monthly housing cost will likely take more than half of your monthly earnings. And, you’d still need insurance — auto and renters. And, you’ll need to pay for utilities, like electric and water. Don’t forget food. And gas for your car.
See what I’m saying. A minimum wage job doesn’t get you very far if you’re living on your own. Making a minimum wage job, like the ones at Wendy’s, maybe even Target, not all that good.
Now, imagine you have a family. Young kids that aren’t yet in school. You’d need a bigger apartment. More food. And, in order to go to work, you’d have to pay for child care. Just ask your parents what they paid for child care. The number will likely shock you. It’s incredibly expensive.
Or, imagine, having a family. You learn that there’s hundreds of jobs in your area. At Target. Everyone loves Target. That sounds great.
Except the job is temporary. Only lasts through the holiday rush. Perhaps October through December or January. Clearly, that’s not gonna work. You’d be right back looking for a job in just a few months.
What makes a job good depends on who’s looking. What they need from the job. For students, minimum wage, part-time or temporary, may be exactly what they need. But, for people who are out of school. Trying to live on their own. Or trying to raise a family. Well, their needs are different. And part-time, temporary, or minimum wage just won’t cut it.
So, when we talk about jobs, it’s important to remember that not all jobs are good. For everyone. The fact that there are more jobs than workers doesn’t mean people are lazy. Unwilling to work. It just means the available jobs aren’t enough. Not enough pay. Not enough hours. Making this unfilled jobs problem, a problem for the employers to solve. Not the workers.