The problem of unemployment and homelessness is not new in the United States, especially for people without a college education. In the article “Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not,” the author’s central claim is that the increase in productivity has not translated to an increase in wages. Millions of working-class citizens can only access low-paying jobs that cannot provide basic needs such as food and shelter. Desmond claims that job opportunities have increased due to economic expansion for the last 40 years, but this has not been projected in wages which have remained relatively flat. The statement shows that although the unemployment rate is down in the United States, workers without a college education are still categorized as impoverished and homeless because the jobs they can access do not pay enough to cater for high rent and upkeep. Desmond argues that although America is registering unfilled jobs, the problem of low wages, temporary work, and lack of health insurance has forced people without a college education to homelessness and poverty.
Desmond provides numerous examples to prove his claim that employment is not the solution to the problem of homelessness or poverty. Firstly, the author uses Vanessa and her family, struggling to meet basic needs such as food and shelter. The author explains that Vanessa is a poor working person who works for about 20 to 30 hours per week and earns about $12000 per month. Vanessa has three children, and since she is the primary caregiver, she is responsible for providing for all of them, but her pay has proven almost impossible. According to Desmond, according to the Federal government estimates, Vanessa’s household can meet the basic needs if it can bring $29,420 a year, and this is not even close to what Vanessa is earning as a healthcare aide. Therefore, although Vanessa is employed, she cannot provide food and shelter to her family, and they have to sleep on a wagon because of the low wages offered in the job market for people who have no college education. Working poor people are part of the country’s workforce, and blaming their homelessness is ignorant because the government has failed them.
The author uses different qualifiers that prove that employment is not a solution to the problem of poverty or homelessness, such as unstable jobs and bad jobs that do not add any quality to a worker. The author claims that unstable jobs are the first qualifier that proves that although there are many unfilled job positions, most do not offer security to employees. Temporary employment is a problem because it leaves working poor people without much-needed health insurance and high wages. According to Desmond, large corporations have hired independent contractors, thus eliminating any chances of a person getting a promotion or a pay rise. The statement proves that America has a problem of unstable and bad jobs which pay less and do not offer any security to workers.
The author uses different rebuttals, such as calling to the end of beliefs and assumptions that homeless people are lazy or social welfare programs are not effective in solving the problem of poverty. According to Desmond, most homeless or in poverty are working class citizens who find themselves in the street due to low wages. Therefore, the accusations should be directed towards the government instead of blaming them for their situation. Moreover, the author rebukes the constant action by congress to stop social welfare programs. Desmond claims that programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have successfully elevated millions of Americans from poverty. The rebuttals are directed to the elites and the government who have less concern or understanding of what it means to be a working American without a college education.
Overall, I find the author’s argument persuasive because it is absurd to call someone lazy or limit welfare programs trying to help them get out of poverty. The culture of subcontracting or refusal to offer permanent job positions to workers without college education translate to homelessness because it is hard to find a rental charging less than $1000 a month. People like Vanessa, who earn between $900 to $1200 a month, cannot afford shelter or a healthy meal for their children. Therefore, effective social-mobility programs and an increase in wages are the best solutions to the problem of homelessness for the working poor and not condemnation or accusation that they are lazy.
Desmond, Matthew. “Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not. (Published 2018).” The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos, 5 Nov. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/09/11/magazine/americans-jobs-poverty-homeless.html.