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COMMENTARY: Low-Wage Jobs Should Be Improved

October 18, 2012

Job quality in low-wage industries, such as home care, can and should be improved, an October 9 Huffington Post blog post argues.

“Many of the jobs our economy is creating today offer only part-time hours, few benefits, little training — and less respect,” write John A. Hartford Foundation Executive Director Corinne H. Rieder, F. B. Heron Foundation President Clara Miller, and PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon, the editorial’s authors.

“So, what can be done?” they write. “In the absence of good jobs, make bad jobs better. In addition to building ladders for the few, raise the floor for many.”

The three authors highlight the story of Bronx home care worker Octaviea Martin to illustrate their point. For years, Martin worked at an agency that paid poorly and offered erratic hours.

Later, Martin got a job at PHI affiliate Cooperative Home Care Associates, where she is able to work 40 hours a week and earn a living wage.

The reason Martin was able to go “from a bad home care job to a decent one” is that CHCA “has built a successful business strategy around raising the floor for all its aides,” the authors write.

Policymakers and foundations can play a “critical role” in encouraging the same strategy in other industries, the authors argue.

“Any workforce training funds invested in low-wage industries should be targeted solely to those employers who are pursuing full-throttle strategies to both ‘build ladders and raise the floor’ — forging bad jobs into better jobs for hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers,” they write.

– by Matthew Ozga

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