[The crystal staircase image was used very successfully by Langston Hughes in his poem, “Mother to Son.” That poem is not included in the article, but we have reprinted it below as well. For the entire article, click the link in the title of the article — Lew Rosenbaum]
Three weeks ago, I flew to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in a conference of social and behavioral scientists. Because employment and the economy are topics that many within this group study, I expected to discuss research on employment and the economy at the conference. Like others, I worry that the media and the government’s focus on the economic hardships of the middle class will decrease discussions of and concern for the plight of lower-income groups. What I did not expect during this trip was the casual conversation that led me to consider these issues shortly after landing in Charlotte.
The only passenger aboard the bus that picked me up from the Charlotte airport, I asked the driver if he was Greg— the driver that I had spoken with a week earlier about getting to and from the hotel where my conference was being held.
“No, I’m Dan,” the driver replied. “Greg no longer works for the hotel. He quit last week.”
“He quit?” I asked. “Well, I just spoke with him last Sunday, and he said he could drive me to the Hilton in the mornings for my conference.”
“I can take you to the Hilton in the mornings,” Dan said. “Greg is an airplane pilot who worked as a driver for us after the airline he was working for laid him off. A different carrier offered him a job last week, so, naturally, he accepted it and quit his job with us. Greg shouldn’t have been working as a driver in the first place—not a man with his education and skills.”
In the past, economic recessions have primarily affected blue collar and low-level retail jobs, but as Greg’s story reveals, the current economic recession has affected many professional and skilled white-collar jobs as well. Yet, as troubling as they are, stories like Greg’s pale against the stories of many working-class and poor people who are struggling to survive after losing jobs under the so- called jobless economic recovery. [read the entire article here]