While other politicians skirted around the real issues, Trump told it like it was and promised what America needed: more jobs. Specifically, coal-based jobs that had been tied up by bureaucratic red tape under Obama.
The creation of jobs is almost always considered a benefit. It puts money into the hands of the hard-working people who deserve it. While this is ideal — especially to politicians — an active effort to create jobs needs to be considered carefully for that ideal to come true.
One complicated aspect of job creation is the question of who receives these jobs. Take Amazon as an example. Recently, New York City was torn over whether or not Amazon should build a corporate campus in Queens – the benefit being the creation of thousands of jobs, but at the cost of $3 billion in city incentives.
If Amazon’s campus in Seattle is an example, the majority of jobs created by Amazon’s new campus would have been well-paid, tech-based jobs that require training.
How Amazon filled these roles could have taken two general routes. One is a job-training program to make sure that disenfranchised groups have an opportunity to participate in this new job market. Another is that people already equipped with training are brought in.
Bringing in trained employees would have almost certainly led to more gentrification, which can be generally defined as increased economic and social inequality as a result of an influx of wealth. This commonly becomes apparent through rising house prices and displacement, Flagstaff being an example of this.
New York City is already considered one of the most gentrified and overpopulated cities in America. Bringing in more trained — and subsequently, upper class — people into Queens would have added to this gentrification and put a strain on the already overtaxed housing and transportation infrastructure.
Another aspect that should be considered is the quality of jobs being created. Taking coal mining as an example, the Harvard College Global Health Review says that, “members of these mining communities are plagued by higher chronic heart, respiratory, and kidney disease mortality”, as well as increased rates of birth defects.
This does not only apply to the people employed by the mines, but to anyone exposed to dust from coal mining. With the added medical bills that comes along with coal mining, the jobs it creates potentially cost more than they pay.
This is not to mention the mercury, arsenic, sulfur dioxide and other environmental toxins that comes from mining, cleaning and burning coal.
It is important that jobs being created are quality jobs, without it, a community runs the risk of harming its working class citizens, which is the opposite of what these jobs are intended to do. Research has also shown that quality jobs tend to help a business’s bottom line due to increased retention and productivity.
PCV Insight, a research firm, lists five components that contribute to making a quality job. Those five components are: a living wage, basic benefits, career-building opportunities, wealth-building opportunities and a fair and engaging workplace. PVC Insight recommends that at least three of these conditions be met in order for a job to be considered a quality one.
Corporations will use job creation to lure the public into not questioning what social, economic, environmental or medical costs these jobs may come at.
Politicians often use “job creation” as a phrase to immediately gain support. In 2016, it was Trump and coal. Now it is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal. But without more information about the jobs being created, the phrase “job creation” is useless.
We should not be so complacent when an entity — corporate or governmental — lists job creation as a benefit. Without understanding factors such as how accessible these jobs are, what quality they are or how they affect inequality, job creation could hinder a community instead of helping it.