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Watercooler – Day Labor: It’s Not Just For Immigrants Anymore

From the Christian Science Monitor, more evidence that the middle class worker is an endangered species:

Tens of thousands of workers left jobless by the recession are turning to day labor, an informal and sometimes exploitative underground market – and they’re entering it at a time when there’s hardly enough work to go around.

Traditionally dominated by undocumented, male Latino immigrants, the day- labor market employed 120,000 workers at its peak in 2006, says Abel Valenzuela, professor of Chicano studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Today, researchers and hiring centers report a nationwide increase in Americans of all ethnicities – and both sexes – seeking day-labor jobs in such areas as construction, landscaping, and house painting…

… Even if the economy ultimately recovers, researchers worry if the workforce can reabsorb those who have resorted to day labor. Many lost jobs aren’t coming back, data suggest. In November of last year, more than 55 percent of job losses were categorized as permanent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This will be one of the many ongoing effects of the economic crisis. People who used to make a decent middle-class living will be fighting to make ends meet through day labor. Hopefully, we can begin to break down the popular mythology which blames the poor for their predicament, and can begin to see that most of those who are struggling are victims of forces beyond their control. 

What’s on your mind tonight?

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Jim Moss

Jim Moss

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