A good friend is a very honest salesman. He doesn’t sell people what they don’t need and has become an
active part of the communities where he works.
His territory includes the eastern Ozarks and the I-55 corridor. He seldom sees proof of the booming economy.
A decade of solid economic gains hasn’t floated everybody’s boat. Many Missourians can’t earn enough to reach the middle class, especially outside the state’s metropolitan areas.
For example, in 2016 the average wage in Washington County, Missouri was $13.38 an hour: fulltime work at that wage leaves a family of four lives below the poverty line. [ https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/countywage.stm ] And, that’s more money than the average worker in scores of Missouri’s counties: the overall median wage in Southeast Missouri is $13.22 per hour.
Even adding-in the metro areas, the state-wide median wage for most fast food workers – including cooks and low-level assistant managers – hovers about $9.00 an hour. Even social workers (a career requiring a college degree, often a Masters degree) has a state-wide median of $17.12 an hour. [ https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm ] That median wage social worker’s kids qualify for discounted or free school meals.
Remember President Trump’s speech in St. Charles?
I know people that work three jobs…
Okay, a few people might work three jobs by choice as they gather funds to open a business, pay for a wedding or otherwise reach for a goal.
Most people who work three jobs do it because that is their only chance to feed and shelter their family.
An endearing Republican myth is that ‘there are jobs for everyone.’ And, yes, Missouri’s unemployment rate slid to just 3.5% in October. [ https://labor.mo.gov/data ]
Unfortunately, employment often doesn’t dissolve want. Nationwide better than half of all households now receiving food stamps have employed adults in the home and around 80% of food stamp families have included a working adult within the past year. [ https://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-introduction-to-the-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap ]
No, just having a job doesn’t reduce poverty: many low-paying jobs create more poor people. It takes fulltime work at a decent wages to escape poverty. For example, food service managers in Missouri have a median wage of $21.43 an hour, or, $44,575 a year – just into that statistical middle class. (Unfortunately, fast food joints have a lot more cooks and cashiers than managers.)
Yet, some folks face extra burdens to getting good jobs. Let’s visit reality…
► Almost 15% of Missouri adults lack a high school diploma: just a quarter of adults have a college degree [ https://www.missourieconomy.org/newsletter/educational_county.stm ];
► About 17% of all Missourians have a recognized, diagnosed disability [ http://www.disabilityplanningdata.com/site/state_population_table.php?state=missouri ];
► If Missouri is following national trends, one adult in 10 has used illegal drugs in the past month [ https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends];
► Many people are unable to do many jobs.
All across the state companies need delivery truck drivers. At $14.74 an hour median pay those aren’t horrible jobs. Alas, to be a delivery truck driver you need a Commercial Driver License; a clean driving record; no recent drug use nor any use while employed; and, you normally have to be able to move 50 to 80 pound boxes all day with just muscle power. What portion of the currently unemployed or underemployed can meet all those requirements?
Remember too that the Republican majority hates seeing average people do well. They oppose increasing the federal or state minimum wage. They enacted Right To Work in Missouri and want a national version [ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/republicans-pursue-national-right-to-work-law-while-they-hold-the-reins-in-washington_us_5891fb30e4b0522c7d3e354d ]. The GOP has used their strangle hold on Jefferson City to drive state worker pay to the lowest in the nation. Why, the Governor SEAL administration won’t even let Missouri stone workers bid on fixing the Capitol buildings’ many problems. [ http://www.kmov.com/story/36777695/missouri-shuts-out-stl-area-firms-on-state-capitol-repairs ]
Virtually all the actions by President Trump and his party, along with their Missouri followers, intentionally discriminate against average Americans. Worse, they especially target struggling people for additional pain.
This month Congress will likely enact Tax Reform which widens the gap between rich and poor, forces working folks to get less help when they struggle or age, and, makes the lives of the poor more perilous.
Is this what Americans voted for last November?
Sad to say, in millions of cases the answer is “Yes.”
Submitted by Glenn Koenen, WCD Member