By Doug Porter
An article in the UT-San Diego business section about employment opportunities caught my eye this morning. While the local picture may be slightly better than the national projections, due to the presence of defense and tech industries, the prognosis for hiring remains heavily weighted towards low paying industries.
Today we’ll take a look at this story and other recent economic reports, along with what they portend for the growing national movement in support of increasing the minimum wage.
Missing from today’s newspaper was any coverage of the joint Center for Policy Initiatives/United Way press conference and report arising from a study documenting the cost of a basic, no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance as being beyond the reach of 38% of all working age households in San Diego County.
Also in the news is a national survey of small businesses indicating that 57% of small business owners support increasing the federal minimum wage of $7.25 in three stages over two and a half years to $10.10, and believe that it should be adjusted annually to keep pace with the cost of living.
BLS Stats Paint a Grim Picture
The UT business section article cites US Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicating eight of the top ten areas of projected hiring nationally offer median wages below the $28,000 or so required to support an individual in the San Diego market.
Regional BLS commissioner Richard Holden spoke yesterday at a South Metro Career Center workshop:
He made a key distinction between job growth and employment opportunity. For instance, the industrial psychology field, which pays a median $83,580 per year, will expand by 53 percent over the next decade, but that means only 900 new jobs in the United States. Meanwhile, 1.5 million cashiers will be hired, all but 86,000 of them will be replacing workers who quit.
In keeping with the boosterism we’ve come to expect from the local daily, they cite projections from the San Diego Workforce Partnership promising more job opportunities in higher paying sectors of the economy.
The standard response to those who look askance at promises future employment growth is to say something along the lines of “get more education.” Cough. cough. I have to wonder how many of those espousing this claptrap own stock in the private university industry.
Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jay Bookman:
“In 1970, fewer than 1 percent of taxi drivers and 2 percent of firefighters had college degrees, while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs,” a recent study by the Center for College Affordability reports.
Citing federal statistics, the study also reports that 24.6 percent of retail sales people and 16 percent of bartenders now have college degrees. Overall, 48 percent of the 41.7 million working Americans with college degrees have jobs that don’t require such degrees, and thus don’t pay like they do.
Again, it’s important to note that these are not just the result of the Great Recession, which means they aren’t temporary. These are trends that have been playing out for 40 years and show every sign of continuing. In essence, we’re trending toward a lottery economy. Getting a college education may buy you a ticket in the lottery, but the percentage of winners shrinks each year, even as the payoff from winning soars.
And those who lose out in that lottery still have college loans to pay back on an income that a high-school graduate could have gotten. The rules of the game are changing.
Of course, those of you with a 20-something back home already know all this.
For the record, I’m NOT saying ‘don’t go to college.’ I am saying that promises of higher education leading to personal prosperity are are highly exaggerated. There are plenty of other good reasons for college, not the least of which is that it somewhat diminishes the pool of potential voters who believe the sun rotates around the earth.
Small Businesses and the Minimum Wage
Unlike groups claiming to recognize small business, like the Koch funded National Federation of Independent Business and most Chambers of Commerce, the Small Business Majority group actually asked 500 small business (less than 100 employees) owners for their opinions.
Pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research say that 47% of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans, 35% claimed to be Democrats and 18% were independents. More than 80% already pay their employees more than the federal minimum wage. And a majority– 52 percent — think increasing the minimum wage would be good for small businesses because low-wage workers would have more money to spend with neighborhood businesses.
The National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association stand adamantly opposed to a minimum wage increase, and say it would lead their members to hire fewer people with little job experience.
But more than 60% of small business owners in the retail and restaurant industries said they support a minimum wage increase, according to the Small Business Majority survey.
Free Shamu (Or Not)
The debate over SeaWorld’s rasion d’etre has gone large as reports about proposed legislation by Santa Monica’s Assemblyman Richard Bloom banning the use of performing orcas dominate local headlines today.
From UT-San Diego:
A state lawmaker has proposed legislation that would prohibit SeaWorld from using orcas in its San Diego shows, saying he is being driven to act by revelations in the disputed documentary “Blackfish.”
The film, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was later aired by CNN to mass television audiences in October, has drawn worldwide attention to how SeaWorld treats killer whales and alleged trainer safety shortcomings at the parks. The film explores the 2010 death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at the Orlando, Fla. park, who was pulled into the pool by the orca Tilikum and drowned.
SeaWorld has been aggressively fighting back, issuing statements blasting the film as propaganda.
Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt has been ahead of the curve on this story, having recently initiated a series of reports on the SeaWorld’s operations, its local economic impact and the orcas themselves. It’s good place to start for those of you wishing to learn more about this issue.
I’d recommend seeing the Blackfish movie, also. I don’t have to tell you to visit with SeaWorld’s point of view, because it’s likely you’ll see plenty once their marketeers identify cookies from your visits to these sites. If you try Tweeting about the movie or SeaWorld, they respond right away, warning about propaganda.
Questions about SeaWorld and animals in captivity eventually open up a Pandora’s Box of ethical dilemmas. Are these beings (Orcas, Dolphins, etc) sentient? Should we respect that? And why stop with sea mammals? What about eating meat?
Regardless of what SeaWorld or the producers of Blackfish say, it’s clear to me that we as a culture have embarked on a path that will eventually change our perceptions and relationships with the idea of ‘what is life?’
The short term arguments about SeaWorld’s role as a player in the local economy pale in comparison to the kinds of questions I encountered as a regular viewer of Star Trek. And even before the movie came out my teenage daughter let me know in no uncertain terms that SeaWorld wasn’t on her list of places to go. The point here being that I think the animal circus business may have already lost the war.
Bring on the Crazy. It’s CPAC Time
I love this time of year. The reports emanating from the Conservative Political Action Conference are a nice filler between the end of the Olympics and the start of the college basketball tournaments. It’s the conservative answer to ComicCon, as Gawker puts it.
Journalists from all over are given just three days to channel their inner Hunter S. Thompson in a setting that barely needs enhancing. It’s all brought to us by The Heritage Foundation, Koch Industries, Amazing America With Sarah Palin, the Tea Party News Network, the National Rifle Association, Tea Party Patriots and National Review, among others.
Bring it on!
Here’s Adam Weinstein:
Today starts the three-day annual circus known as the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which Washington journalists scurry like wounded, hungry cooing doves in search of crazy bite from right-wing presidential hopefuls, and also Rick Perry.
And I loved this bit from the Los Angeles Times:
While the politicians made carefully crafted pitches, the crowd only truly came to life when fire-breathing NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre ripped the media for ripping his plan to put armed guards in every school and Donald Trump announced he would not use a TelePrompter, then delivered a rambling speech studded with gems like “You know the things the Chinese want? Anything Trump! My buildings! My ties!”
Authenticity, however loopy, always carries the day.
Speaking of Jokes
Word is that documents from Balboa Park Celebration may being seeing the light of day over the weekend. So hopefully we’ll have more info on America’s Finest City’s latest scandal come Monday.
In the meantime, let me share this, via Tony Perry’s story today at the Los Angeles Times:
The nonprofit group was battered by turnover among its top executives and problems in finding sponsors. The final straw may have been when it refused to make public documents showing how the $2.8 million has been spent.
The event that was meant to enhance civic pride — and its tourist economy — is now wavering somewhere between a joke and a scandal.
On This Day: 0322 BC -Greek philosopher Aristotle died. 1965 – State troopers and a sheriff’s posse broke up a march by civil rights demonstrators in Selma, AL. 1994 – The Supreme Court ruled that parodies that poke fun at an original work can be considered “fair use” and do not require permission from the copyright holder.
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