Last week we held our membership meeting featuring the United Way of Central Ohio. Staff from the United Way described some of their programs that benefit employers and employees.
We enjoyed highlighting the work of the United Way since the programs they discussed are of significant benefit, but they are not as well-known as they would like. If someone does not know an opportunity for help exists they cannot take advantage of it or refer it to others.
Valerie Ridgeway from the United Way shared a great deal of information, but two facts stuck out with me in contrast with each other.
Employment levels in Central Ohio are near an all-time high.
The number of people living in poverty is at an all-time high.
Do these sound contradictory? Unfortunately, they are not.
Valerie mentioned fast food jobs as one example of the changing paradigm of employment. When I was young, these jobs were where people entered the workforce. They often worked there primarily for spending money, but did not stay in those jobs long.
Today, more of the workers in these jobs are older, including many senior citizens. They work there for subsistence for themselves or their families or to supplement retirement incomes. It’s not for luxury, it’s to live.
Yet when there are discussions about raising the minimum wage, opponents point to fast food jobs and claim raises are not needed for the employees they stereotype as working there. As a result, the low wages continue and provide a force for increasing poverty.
The jobs paradigm has shifted, and those in control of our economy must take note. Helping those in low paying jobs will take a team effort from both labor and management.
As the United Way representatives spoke, a variety of new partnerships to provide service through their programs were suggested by our members. More opportunities for partnerships were created providing the opportunity to help more people.
It was a great meeting, with opportunities to learn and work together. We hope you will be able to join us June 7, 2017. Watch this blog and our Facebook page for more details.