Most Americans have come to associate Labor Day with barbecues, picnics and one last visit to the beach. In fact, the long weekend meant to commemorate the victories of the labor movement and honoring the working-class, has somehow become a holiday that marks the unofficial end of summer.
The truth is, the United States is facing a plethora of controversies regarding the economy and labor. Some might even say that with the matter of minimum wage still hanging in the air and income disparity worse than ever, there isn’t much to celebrate.
Although unemployment has fallen to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, according to a report recently released by the federal government, the employment-to-population ratio still hasn’t returned to its previous levels.
Furthermore, while the workforce may be more productive than ever before, the fact remains that working-class itself struggles with medical care, bills and other utilities.
Perhaps its high time Americans started focusing on the ways to help the labors instead of firing up the grill on Labor Day.
Here are three ways the government could help these hardworking people:
Increase The Minimum Wage
Despite the widespread belief, raising minimum wage does not destroy employment growth.
In fact, the states that raised their minimum wages in 2014 – including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – saw a 0.85 percent job rate increase, while the other 37 states only had a 0.61 percent growth.
In addition to that, the value of higher minimum wage has fallen in relation to productivity. Today, the minimum wage is actually lower in real terms than it was back in 1960s, according to the data from Center on Economic Policy Research.
Maternal, paternal and sick leave remains one of the biggest issues faced by the working class in the U.S.
While Sweden offers 16 months of paid parental leave, only about 13 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to any form of paid leave – including sick, parental and time off to care for a family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Also, only the highest-paid workers are most likely to have this basic right, as more than 1 in 5 of the top 10 percent of earners get paid family leave compared to 1 in 20 in the bottom 80 percent. In addition to that, unionized workers are more likely to get these benefits than nonunionized workers.
Social Security And Medical Aid
Instead of proposing cuts to Social Security, disability programs and other safety-net benefits, lawmakers need to expand Social Security benefits so that every worker in the United States who has put in extremely long hours their entire life can at least enjoy their retirement years in dignity.
The same goes for Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
While 30 states have made the government health insurance program available to all households with income below or just above the poverty line, almost 20 states – including Florida, Georgia and Texas – haven’t.
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