Working virginia families
How We’ll Measure Success for Virginia’s Working Families
In today’s economy, it’s not enough to aim for growth— it must be, it HAS to be, inclusive growth. Growth that doesn’t leave anyone behind.
According to the United Way, 28 percent of Virginians cannot afford basic needs even though they work for a living. Our minimum wage isn’t enough to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment in any part of the Commonwealth, whether you’re in Fairfax or Fancy Gap.
I’m sorry, but if you’re a Virginian that’s working full-time, you shouldn’t have to struggle to simply make ends meet.
But we are. We’re working harder than our parents and grandparents did. We’re working more and longer hours. We’re doing everything we’re supposed to, and more, but we can never seem to get ahead. And that’s because wage growth for working folks hasn’t budged since the early 1980s.
Case in point: in 1980, my father— working a middle class, 9-5 job with a high school diploma— made more on a single income, adjusted for inflation, than both my wife and I do today. And our story is far from unique. In the last forty years, while the average paychecks might be a little bigger, our purchasing power hasn’t budged an inch.
Somewhere along the way, the government stopped enabling Virginians to power their own success. This means that eventually people see that the system is rigged and they lose hope. Politicians today are too quick to tilt the playing field in favor of lobbyists, special interests, and the wealthy. It's the way Virginia politics has been engineered to run for the last eighty years. It’s how we can be ranked first in the country for businesses- but dead last, as the worst state in the country for working folks.
We shouldn’t have to choose one or the other. We can have a Commonwealth that’s an amazing incubator for businesses, AND one that stands up to do everything we can for working Virginians. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either lying, or simply unwilling and unable to do the hard work required to make that a possibility- because anything less than absolutely striving to attain the best in both categories is completely unacceptable.
This means we need to do a lot of different things, like making childcare affordable again. Providing a robust system of parental leave. Investing in trades. Solving the crushing college debt crisis. Ensuring people don’t have to worry one health problem will bankrupt their family. And too many more to mention here in their entirety.