As we remember the days just after Hurricane Harvey visited us, we are reminded all jobs are important. I could not imagine what I would have done without that grocery store cashier or the convenience store clerk to provide a service to me; not to mention the demolition contractor, carpenter, and insurance appraiser. I also relied on several volunteers who helped me remove items from my home or provide food and shelter after the disaster – for free! All of Houston and surrounding areas witnessed a clear illustration of how all jobs are important, paid or unpaid.
On the national level, employment is important. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that about two-thirds of the income earned in the U.S. is in the form of wages and salaries. This information tells us that the money we earn from working is by far our greatest source of income. And, of course, that money is what provides basic necessities like food and shelter, disposable things like leisure and travel, and future things like preparing for retirement.
Being employed also means better physical health than those who are unemployed. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, employed Americans scored 81.4 on the Gallup-Healthways Physical Health Index, compared to 68.8 for those not in the workforce (unemployed and not seeking employment). That number even includes retirees who choose to continue working reported better health than those who didn’t continue working…who knew?
Other benefits of working include challenging and developing ourselves, providing personal achievement, and the ability to socialize with others. These benefits are not so much based on whether we earn a high salary or not. In fact, about 25 percent of jobs in the U.S. are considered “low wage” positions (earning less than $44,460 median income according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Jobs in this category include jobs such as a firefighter, teacher, EMT and others that our culture places high value on.
We can easily see that all jobs, paid or non-paid, are important not only to the person receiving the product or service, but also to the individual worker as well. Shortly after Hurricane Harvey finally blew through, I spoke to a friend who was removing water logged items from my home. I thanked her for helping and she told me that it felt so good just to get out and do some physical labor for a change.
David Spears is a member of the Workforce Solutions Navigator team for the Texas Gulf Coast Region. Combining training and education to real world examples, David brings personal and professional experience with disabilities to the table in order to help job seekers with disabilities realize their potential. David has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with over 20 years of experience in the business world.