Written by 4:29 pm Commentary, Public policy

The Two Job Problem

I have no idea who Ben Shapiro is or why he seems to pop up on my Twitter timeline from time to time.

But, there’s a video of him saying, “Well, the fact is, if you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough. That’d be a you problem.”

Is it, though?

When people start talking about folks with two jobs, I am reminded of families who need help with their water bills (of course). When somebody applies for water bill assistance through The Human Utility, they must submit pay stubs and other proof of income.

One thing I see fairly often is people with multiple jobs. Neither job is a full-time job with benefits, though.

But, despite rosy unemployment numbers, in a lot of places in the United States (such as Detroit), a second job is the only way people are able to keep their households afloat. This is especially true in places like Michigan with its $9.45/hr minimum wage.

People not having access to full-time, good-paying careers is not always a “you” problem. Plenty of Americans exist in communities with scarce job opportunities. These folks take what work they can find — including a second or third job or an informal paid gig — in order to do the very thing Ben talks about: putting a roof over their head and food on the table.

Needing a second job is not a failure of character. Needing a second job is not a failure of drive or initiative. That anyone needs to piece together two jobs just to live is a structural issue owing to problems such as racism, poor-to-non-existent investment in career training, layoffs, and disinvestment in certain communities — especially when there are black and brown people involved.

That they can’t do any better is a “we” problem. When are we as a society going to get past ridiculing people who do what they have to do to take care of their families?

And isn’t that actually admirable?


If, instead of criticizing people who keep two jobs to keep their families fed, you’d rather help, you can donate to The Human Utility to help them with their water bills.

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Last modified: December 18, 2019
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