Supply Chain Management
Low wage labor; COVID-19; Essential work
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In this project, I examine the wealth gap in the United States, low wage labor and how we have come to where we are today in relation to these topics. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, 58% of the workforce in the U.S. was earning minimum wage (or less).
Over the course of the pandemic, it appears there has been a shift in public thought surrounding the importance of specific types of labor. We have seen certain jobs deemed as “essential work” during the past year. These are the people who put food on our tables, care for us and provide sanitation, transportation and medical attention, etc.. Many of these workers can also be classified as some of the lowest earners in our economy. Without these workers doing their jobs, we would have seen far greater consequences of disruption during the ongoing pandemic.
Essential workers have continued to work “in person” jobs. For this reason, these workers have faced some of the highest risks of contracting the virus, while typically receiving low reward. The previously mentioned newfound respect for essential work has not typically translated to higher reward for these workers. These are the people who kept certain parts of the economy running, often while they were offered little protection from the government, their places of labor and the public. In this project, I wanted to not only reflect on low wage labor and growing wealth disparities, but also on how this can be viewed in the current societal landscape of the pandemic. This project explores “essential labor” throughout the pandemic.