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Letter to the Editor: Not such a Merry Christmas for some

Three weeks ago the economic report looked great!  In fact the Dawson News reported last week that the unemployment rate in Georgia was the lowest in a long time. In the whole country were over 266, 000 new jobs and unemployment was down to 3.5%.  Growth was at 2.1% and wages increased by 3.1%.  But that is not the entire story.  According to Moneywatch, a branch of CBS News which reports on financial matters, almost half of all Americans work in low wage jobs.  In fact, 44% of Americans are working in jobs earning average yearly wages of $18,000 or less.  These are jobs at which heads of families try to support their families.  This salary is not even enough to buy food and shelter for one person, let alone a family.

The non-partisan Brookings Institute performed this analysis and found that 53 million Americans between the ages of 24 to 53 have a median wage of $10.33 cents per hour which is below what is considered a living wage.  In addition to low wages, most of these jobs offer no benefits.

So while Trump and his administration brag about how good the economy is, almost half of all American jobs offer poverty level wages.   In addition, small cities in the south tend to have even more low paying jobs.  Jobs in the north such as in manufacturing are higher paying but in the south we operate under Republican “right to work” laws.  This means that workers can’t work with labor unions for better wages.  Most jobs in the south are in the service industry and retail.  Just think about what is available in Dawson County.  The majority of the jobs here pay less than $10 an hour in restaurants or retail establishments.  People working those jobs in Dawson County can’t even afford to live in Dawson County because there is no affordable housing.

In big cities in the South, like Atlanta, the majority of workers work at low paying minimum wage jobs.  But even teachers in Georgia suffer under low pay.  Beginning salaries for teachers (base paid by the state) are at $34,000 a year.  Since 2002 when Republicans took over the Governorship and the legislature that base salary has only gone up $4,000.  In 17 years, less than $225 increase each year.  Teachers in Atlanta can’t afford to rent an apartment in the city where they work.  And because of the mistimed tax cuts last year, the Governor has asked for 4% cuts in budgets this year and 6% next year.  This will eliminate jobs in the state’s child welfare, juvenile prison agencies, and food safety inspectors.

So the economy has gotten better for some, but almost half the people in this county are not earning a living wage.  Yes the stock market has been great.  But over 50% of Americans don’t own stock and the promises by corporations to raise wages because of their higher profits have not happened.  Trumps economy has helped the wealthy get richer while the average American lives in poverty.  Remember, your vote matters.  It is time to “dump Trump” and the Republican Party along with him.

Bette Holland