By Dave Oberting
Here is the proposition that underlies all that we do at Economic Growth DC: the right to a decent full-time job is the most basic and fundamental entitlement of them all. It is the cornerstone of social justice. It is the foundation of human dignity.
We often forget that the full name of Dr. King’s pilgrimage to the nation’s capital in 1963 was the “March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom.” Was it simply a typo that Dr. King put jobs before freedom in the title of his speech, or was it a conscious ranking of his priorities?
What would Dr. King think if he found out that 50 years have passed, and in the city where his march was held, 88,773 people (out of a population of 658,000) over the age of 16 still live in poverty? And how would he feel if he heard that only 1.6% of them had the opportunity to hold a full-time job at some point in the last year.
Every day that goes by that a District resident doesn’t have the opportunity to work full-time is another day that our local government has failed that resident.
For it is the District government that bears responsibility when the economy slows, and job growth sputters. Our elected officials hold the keys to the legal and regulatory structures that permit an economy to function. When that architecture fails, it is not the fault of the man on the corner searching for the means to feed his family.
We’ll work every day, with every tool at our disposal, to bring you a faster growing economy capable of creating a full-time job for every working-age District resident.
We’ll work every day to radically improve our job training system so that it imparts the skills that District residents need to command the high-wage jobs of the next generation.
We’ll work every day to urgently and dramatically improve our K-12 education system so that by graduation every District student can think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate as part of a team.
And we’ll work every day to make sure that every 12th-grader is prepared for a four-year college program, a technical training program, an apprenticeship, or in special cases, a good-paying job in the local economy.
Dave Oberting is the executive director at Economic Growth DC, an economic policy organization focused on the District and its economy. You can email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.