business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Gannett News Service reports that one of the more sobering realities of the current economic situation is that there are certain low-wage, manual jobs that Americans don't want to perform. While some say that "it is a sign that Americans don't want to get their hands dirty…others say Americans would gladly do the work if the pay was enough to cover the bills."

According to the Urban Institute, 20 percent of the nation's low-wage jobs are held by immigrants, who only represent 11 percent of the population. This trend is one of the reasons that President Bush proposed a change in immigration policy that would give amnesty to illegal workers filling undesirable jobs; of course proposal was met with mixed reactions, and there have been several reports lately that the administration has back-burnered it because of other legislative and political priorities.
KC's View:
We were talking to someone in Southern California who does not work in the retail business, and he commented that he didn’t understand why folks who work as checkout personnel expect to make a living wage. After all, he said, these are menial, unskilled jobs…and there's no reason to expect to make anything more than a menial wage.

That's an amazing statement…though hardly an isolated sentiment…especially considering that working in retail used to be a ticket to the middle class, a way to support a family, maybe buy a house, perhaps put a kid through school.

Consumers now see these jobs as having little value, but that might be because retailers have devalued many of those people and those jobs. Not sure what we can do about that, but it seems to something that the industry…and maybe society…has to address.