top of page

Live to Work or Work to Live?

Let's all celebrate the October Jobs Report. It was positive with an increase of 531,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.6%, the lowest level since the economic recovery started in May 2020. Many analysts believe that this is happening due to the Delta variant decreasing, more vaccinations including boosters, and the spending of more money this upcoming holiday season. When people feel safe, they go to work and spend the money they earn; this is very basic.

The next question is, will American workers return to the workforce accepting low wages, mediocre or no benefits, and return to working multiple jobs to survive?

When I was a child, I remember how my father, who was a manager at a meatpacking company, would be absent from the dinner table from November until a week or two into January due to the Christmas Rush. He would work 16 plus hours a day, drive home, eat, fall asleep and in a few short hours, get up and do this all over again without even one day off until the rush was over. Even after the rush, he would still work 50-60 hours per week. He would lecture me that to get ahead, one must work hard, and that he did. While he was working hard, he missed out — on watching me grow up and just having the opportunity to take time to be together as a family.

Then one day, my father's company was bought out, and they offered him fewer benefits, less vacation and sick time, and no bonuses, so he decided to retire early. It was a hard decision for him as he has worked for this company since he was 17 years old. He started sweeping the floors and working in the mailroom, working his up to managing the entire company. He loved his work, it was important to him as he identified with it, but it also supported our family.

Now I'm not complaining as he was an amazing father. We always had a roof over our heads, food, clothes, necessities, and even took a vacation to go fishing every year. Thankfully he retired early and had the opportunity to travel with my mother, enjoy his grandchildren and family, spend time fishing; the chance to have some time to enjoy retirement before cancer took him from us way too soon.

Work hard to get ahead. Work hard to get ahead of what? How many Americans live paycheck to paycheck? How many workers can even afford to take a vacation? How many will have enough savings to retire? How long do we all have to enjoy retirement before being impacted by health concerns or before the inevitable happens, the day that we are no longer here? Think about these available jobs and what they pay in comparison to what it costs to live. In numerous cities and towns across our country, to have a roof over your head, many must work at least two jobs. Some workers also flock to gig jobs due to the flexibility; however, these jobs provide nothing but a paycheck.

Our Democratic Party is the party of labor; however, their messaging needs serious help. They support significant bills which support fair wages, assistance to pay for childcare, affordable housing, and many other programs that support workers; however, they do not stand up and take ownership. They should be shouting this from the rooftops, but they don't. The Republicans support the corporations, the CEOs, and unlivable wages. Meanwhile, they do not vote on any bills that help workers. However, they are more than happy to inform their constituents when the Democrats pass legislation supporting working Americans acting as if they did this.

In thinking about Americans and how we work, this is one tiny step forward. Workers are finally taking a stand, making different decisions. While other countries have the attitude that they will work to live rather than live to work, we are still in this transformation. Is this truly the American Dream, or is it work your life away until you die? If this pandemic opened our eyes and shone a bright light on this issue, so be it; however, this is only the beginning.


32 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All