And you thought the government didn’t have a jobs program. It does. The problem is that the pay and benefits are lousy, and in many cases the working conditions ain’t so great either.
We’re not talking about the civil service. No, as one of two recent reports notes, “Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. At the same time, many of these companies are providing their executives with exorbitant compensation.”
That’s from “Underwriting Bad Jobs,” an analysis written by Amy Traub and Robert Hiltonsmith at the public policy and advocacy group Demos. “Our tax dollars are fueling the low-wage economy and exacerbating inequality,” they note, whether it’s food vendors peddling hot dogs at the National Zoo in Washington, security guards at federal buildings or men and women sewing military uniforms in Kentucky. Those impacted include healthcare, daycare and construction workers, armored car drivers, janitors and cleaners, prison guards at privately run jails and gift shop cashiers at national parks, museums and monuments.
The Demos findings are echoed in a second report – “Taking the Low Road: How the Federal Government Promotes Poverty-Wage Jobs through Its Contracting Practices” — issued just last week by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a non-partisan nonprofit that focuses on issues affecting low wage and unemployed workers.