My little sister woke up this morning to a dubious employment outlook. She’s nanny to two young boys, both of whose parents work for the federal government. Thanks to the intransigence of our beloved Congress, for the time being, the parents won’t be going to work. My little sister is simply collateral damage—“secondary effects” seems to be the technical term.
The economy of the Washington Metropolitan Region depends upon the federal government. Think of Los Angeles during the 2007–2008 writers’ strike and New York City during the 2008 financial crisis. The retail landscape of these areas were shattered by the loss of the core economic engine. This is bad news in particular for, you guessed it, us—the generation that can’t seem to catch a break.
According to a recent repot, millennials are five times more likely to hold retail jobs than all other workers. As McDonald’s so kindly demonstrated, minimum wage is not a living wage. This means that if you’re working in retail for minimum wage you’re probably living month-to-month, if not week-to-week. I go into these details to highlight the implications of losing even a few days of work. Oh, didn’t I mention? For those of you who haven’t worked in retail, when business is slow, your boss can simply decide to send you home. When you’re an hourly employee, that means that your paycheck just got lower.
I speak from personal experience. While in college, I worked at B. Dalton in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. Located directly behind the Capital, a large percentage of our sales came from the federal government. Staffers would come over on their lunch breaks, tour groups would traipse around the store looking for maps, and various other politicos would stop in as well. (Carl Bernstein once came by to complain that his bio on Hilary Clinton wasn’t featured more prominently on our display. What a special moment that was.) Sadly, the store is no longer there, but I guarantee that the current retail stories in Union Station are cutting down their hours effective immediately. When you are living on a shoestring budget to begin with, losing this income can be the difference between being able to pay the rent or not. But of course that’s not important. What clearly matters at this moment is partisan politics.
This is not OK. My little sister is not acceptable collateral damage for a government run amok. Our generation has already shouldered a financial crisis that we had nothing to do with. Regardless of how long this shutdown lasts, it is shameful for our own government to now deliberately inflict this upon us.[divider] [/divider]
What do you think about the government shutdown’s effect on millennials? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @litdarling.
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