Federal contracting with private vendors supports about two million low-wage private sector jobs, according to Demos, a national research institute, in their study, "Underwriting Bad Jobs." That is "more than the number of low wage workers at Walmart and McDonald's combined."
Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay lousy wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. In some cases, such as the garment industry -- involved in making the uniforms for our military or federal police -- Washington contractors undermine industry standards, paying "far less than the industry median," while suffering "forced overtime and hazardous work conditions." Politicians are learning to talk the talk about raising wages and redressing inequality, but they walk the walk of driving wages down.