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Economic growth doesn’t equal honest wages, decent jobs for Americans

This last week, I had the pleasure of being able to sit through the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon which hosted speeches from Congressman Andy Barr and Congressman Brett Guthrie. The meeting took place in the new Bluegrass Hall building and after we ate, we all sat and listened to both Congressmen fill us all in on several issues at the state and national level and what is being done about them in Washington.

Guthrie spoke at the end and did not touch on each and everything Barr briefed the audience on. During Barr’s speech it was interesting, to say the least, to hear his point of view on each topic. One topic which stood out to me the most was Congress and Washington’s view on the economy.

I was in my early 20s when the recession hit America, and my husband and I had just had our first child only two years before. Having worked since I was 15, I had a brief knowledge of the economy before everything started to slide downhill in 2007.

Regardless, struggles are inevitable when you start a family young and we had our fair share of issues. I also remember very well the pressure on us during those few years when things began getting worse and worse for the nation.

Our economic hit did not come until 2009, and I can still remember back to our worst experience with the recession which took place when I was eight months pregnant with our second child and we had just bought our first home two months before my husband got laid off of his union job.

Needless to say, having gone through those years and trying to make ends meet while also feeding our family, paying our mortgage and putting food on the table, the economy has become a very important topic to me as I am sure it is to everyone.

However, as I sat there and listened to Barr speak about how he had been told by Chairman Powell that we are living in the best economy he had seen in his professional lifetime – I could not help but wonder what economy they were looking at, because I still don’t see it even more than 10 years later.

I think American’s as a whole all struggle with those up in Washington from time to time; with the idea that they are so far removed from the working class that their view might be slightly jaded when compared to our reality.

This instance to me was exactly that.

Statistics may show that the economy is growing at 4.2 percent, consumer confidence is soaring, and small businesses are optimistic — but all those statistics are not what keeps my lights on or food on my table. As far as job openings and wage growth, I have yet to see any company and/or employer offer its employees the confidence, wages, insurance and peace of mind that I remember from before 2007.

If we are experiencing economic growth in this country, then why are so many American’s still living paycheck to paycheck?

Last I checked that is not the definition of consumer confidence, but perhaps more of a mindset of the American people who are finally needing to live their life and enjoy its pleasures regardless of the economy.

Small businesses may have high optimism thanks to the policies put in place by the administration — however, I find it hard to swallow that there are more job openings than there are people to take them as Barr pointed out to the audience last Friday.

From my experience, I see employers who don’t want to pay their workers an honest wage. I see workers who struggle to make ends meet and take jobs making way less than they are worth all while their employer reaps the benefits. I see insurance costs that take half of your paycheck while you work for a wage that barely pays your bills as it is.

I see American’s still struggling all over the nation.

Brittany Fuller is the community editor of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. She can be reached at brittany.fuller@jessaminejournal.com.