The Ones Without Champions
Recently the liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow did something unusual in elite U.S. media. He acknowledged in a serious and respectful way the existence and struggles of non-affluent working class Americans. In an interesting column titled “They, Too, Sing America,” he wrote with eloquence about “everyday people, blue-collar workers, people not trying to win the future so much as survive the present” – the people who “do hard jobs and odd jobs — any work they can find to keep the lights on and the children fed. As Blow added in a in a comment full of pointed meaning for the harsh rightward limits of U.S. political culture, “They are the ones without champions, waiting for Democrats to gather the gumption to defend the working poor with the same ferocity with which Republicans protect the filthy rich, waiting for a tomorrow that never comes.”  They are not sifting through the various complex budget and tax proposals advanced by political elites atop the manufactured debt crisis in Washington. They are trying to keep one step ahead of the landlord and the bill collectors.
And they are many. While the Department of Commerce recently released a study boasting that high tech professional jobs are projected to increase by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, Blow wanted his readers to know about a recent projection by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that (in Blow’s words) “half of the top 30 occupations expected to see the largest job growth over the same period, and seven of the top 10, are low-wage or very low-wage jobs. Only eight even require a degree. Most simply require on-the-job training.” I went to look at the Labor Statistics table Blow linked in the Web version of his column. The top 10 job growth categories include: home health aids (number 2, bottom wage quartile), customer service representatives (number 3, second wage quartile from bottom), food preparation and service workers (fast food included – number 4 and bottom quartile), personal and home care aids (number 5, bottom quartile), retail salespersons (number 6, bottom quartile), office clerks (number 7, second quartile from bottom), and nursing aids, orderlies, and attendants (number 9, bottom quartile).