In her article, The Betrayal of work how low wage jobs fail 30 million Americans; Beth Shulman is very categorical of how after the welfare reforms Americans were not any better. A significant proportion of the total population attains a low wage with minimal or no benefits. Most of them are forced to work over time and work on night shifts a factor that negatively affects effective parenting. It is important to examine the quality of the job opportunities that the reforms brought about instead of just considering the quantity.
Most poorly paid workers of which a large proportion comprises of the single mothers lack health and sick benefits. They are denied benefits like on health care, sick pay and disability pay. With the poor wages most of them cannot afford to pay premiums for health care insurance. The health of their children is also at stake given the fact that their jobs offer little flexibility to care for them should they fall ill. They are unable to address emergencies affecting their children leave alone meet the normal appointments and everyday needs.
At times they are forced to make tough choices like loosing a days wage or risk loosing their jobs altogether when they take some time off work to attend to their sick children. Mind you a days wage is very significant as they are the sole bread winners. There is a very big contrast between the working conditions that high income earners work in and those surrounding the low income earners. The poor work in poor working conditions while in contrast the rich operate under very safe environments.
Poor working environments act as disincentives to work. The welfare reform has proved to be an ineffective policy as it has had a negative impact on the quality of child care. To make ends meet most single mothers work in two or more job and they are not consulted should the need for a change in schedules arise. Their jobs are also emotionally degrading as they are characterized by constant surveillance, time clocks, drug testing and rigid rules that create the impression that there exist a high degree of untrustworthiness.
Lack of training is another characteristic of low wage jobs and this hinders the successful transition up the social ladder. Workers are denied the chance of increasing their expertise without the on job training. The strict and rigid schedules blended with poor pay hinders them the chance to acquire advanced training from learning institutions like colleges or universities. Their jobs are also characterized by high insecurity as opposed to high income earners again, they least quality for unemployment insurance.
Despite the fact that the shift from welfare to work sees the poor earn poor and unstable incomes they are denied government support like the coverage for food stamps and Medicaid making their lives difficult. It is critical that the federal government addresses the issue of low income earners so that the country’s commitment of alleviating poverty is addressed. It must show that it is responsible for all its citizens. David Jones in Single Mothers: Working but still poor explains how it is extremely hard for single mothers who become ineligible to government benefits after registering increased wages.
An increase in a certain proportion of the wages earned results to a higher decrease in benefits, a factor that makes working mothers poorer or worse off than they would have been when relying on welfare. The argument that any job is better than welfare has turned out to be a misleading one as low paying jobs only make the living conditions worse. Not all jobs can lift families out of poverty. The cost of living especially in the cities is high and full time employment does not guarantee one a decent lifestyle especially in the expensive cities like New York.