’No one should work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty: WorkingNation President
Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Jane Oates, President of WorkingNation, discuss how U.S hiring alliances are helping Americans find jobs.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Moving the average wage to $15 an hour, the minimum wage, something that President Biden wants to do, is that going to help fix this gap that Sibile was just talking about?
JANE OATES: Oh it certainly will, Alexis. It will take millions of people out of poverty. And many people feel, you know, no one should work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty. It will take millions of children out of poverty. And it will, one of the other positive aspects, is it will finally do something with the wage gap between men and women.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: What about the burden it may be on some companies, especially businesses coming out of the pandemic that have really been hurt? What if what if paying that higher wage, that $15 minimum wage, causes them to go under? Because of course, the other side of the argument is if you put so much pressure on their payrolls, those companies may actually lay off workers or not bring on as many new workers.
JANE OATES: Absolutely, and nobody wants to see that happen. I mean, we could say historically that there has not been significant job loss when there's been an increase in the minimum wage, but we've never had a pandemic before. So I think it's incumbent on those smaller employers to really talk to their elected officials. And as this legislation is being created in Congress, there are all kinds of ways to protect smaller employers. There is exemptions that exist today in the current law. So what we would try to do is look, I think, to tell our elected officials how to protect those smallest employers so that they don't go out of business.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know Jane, last year we saw, and it's still happening now, a lot of companies with urgent staffing needs form these partnerships with companies that were hard hit during the pandemic to match some of the furloughed workers with open jobs. And that seems to be paying off now. Are those partnerships, those alliances, something that you think we're going to continue to see even after the pandemic?
JANE OATES: Alexis, I think it's one of the most promising things we've seen during the pandemic. This idea that I get laid off from my employer, maybe a hotel chain, maybe an airline, and without having to be without a job at all, I seamlessly go into work for somebody like CVS or Amazon, two of the companies that were big partners in this. It's just it's good for everybody. It's good for the receiving company; they get the talent they need. It's good for the sending company, because they off-board me as a worker and I feel very happy about the way that they did it. It may be something interesting to watch, when these employers step up again, hopefully, after the pandemic, what do these employees do? Do they go back to their original employer or do they stay with the new people? But whatever happens, it's absolutely a positive outcome for everybody.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: For sure. And I guess the question is, how many of them are going to have jobs to go back to, right? I mean economists are already saying it might take at least three years for us to regain the jobs lost during the pandemic. And there are going to be a portion of jobs that will just not come back. So how do we as a country, as an economy, get ready for that?
JANE OATES: Well, I think we have to rethink the way we have traditionally done education, especially post-secondary education, but secondary education as well. We need to make sure that everybody has digital skills. We need to make sure that people are ready for the jobs that are going to be created after the pandemic, and that they can move into those jobs with the skills that are necessary.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want to talk about specifically women and how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted them. Here's a stat for you, nearly 2.4 million women have exited the workforce since last February. So a year ago. That's compared with less than 1.8 million men. What do you think the lasting impacts on our economy are because of the way women have been impacted disproportionately during this time?
JANE OATES: I don't think we can recover fully if women don't come back to the workforce. We saw the single largest one-year drop in labor market participation rate for women in 2020 since 1945. We can't recover, we can't build back a better, stronger, more inclusive economy, unless women are a part of it. Now, I think part of bringing women back is opening schools and opening childcare. And if we're really a forward-looking society, we'll make sure that when we build this back, we'll have affordable, quality childcare so that women can depend on it. But let there be no question, we cannot afford to lose women. Women had made such amazing gains at the end of 2019. We cannot afford to move backwards. We have to make sure there are specific programs targeting these women, getting them back to the same positions they held before.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Jane, how long do you think it's going to take for us to regain those jobs? Are you are you in agreement with some economists who are looking at possibly three years?
JANE OATES: Well I'm not an economist, I'm a policy person. But I have to tell you, looking at the way we've started the recovery now, it's certainly tepid. And I think it wouldn't surprise me at all if those economists that are saying two and more years are exactly right.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Jane Oates, CEO of WorkingNation. Thanks for being with us today.