One of the lowest wage industries is tourism. Tourism creates a low-wage, low-productivity economy. Thirty years ago when running for President, Walter Mondale cautioned us about an economy that consisted of "wrapping hamburgers and sweeping up around Toyotas." Today, that is the grand plan for our county economy envisioned by many of our politicians. They think tourism is our savior, but tourism economics is hamburger-flipper economics. Tourism is heavy on occupations related to food preparation and service, cashiers, and attendants. Look at the eight lowest paying jobs in America, and it reads like the tourism-skewed nightmare that our leaders pitch to us daily.
According to the 2011 state databook for San Juan County, the largest employment sectors here were:
- Government - 25.3% (average weekly wage - $774)
- Wholesale/Retail Trade - 13.9% (average weekly wage - $595 )
- Construction - 13.6% (average weekly wage - $676 )
- Accommodation and Food Services - 11.6% (average weekly wage - $367 )
- Healthcare and Social Assistance - 5.8% (average weekly wage - $527)
Note that, besides government, our only top employment sector with an above-average wage (construction) just took it on the chin because of the CAOs. Note, too, that some of our lowest wage employment sectors (accommodation/food service, arts/entertainment/ recreation) are closely linked to tourism. The CAOs discourage nearly every type of economic activity in the San Juans except for tourism.
The just-passed CAOs are the most anti-middle-class, anti-working-class, anti-affordability, anti-people, anti-social-justice laws ever passed in this county. But you never hear CAO supporters admit that. Instead, CAO junkies will continue to falsely claim that they protect our economy and protect family-wage jobs. Don't believe it. It is a lie. Here is Lovel Pratt's press release announcement of her candidacy:
... Pratt recognizes that a strong local economy is key to our community’s sustainability and continued quality of life. She will continue to support and advocate for the infrastructure needed for year-round, family-wage jobs, such as the wireless ordinance. She will continue to support innovative, locally-based solutions that retain local jobs, such as the Lopez Solid Waste District’s and Orcas Recycling Services’ solid waste and recycling services.It is very disingenuous to proclaim support for the local economy when you have just voted to kill it with the CAOs. Beyond buzzwords and platitudes (e.g., sustainability, quality of life, beauty of the environment, health of ecosystems), there is nothing to Pratt's typically vacuous statements.
Pratt also recognizes that San Juan County’s economy is inextricably connected to the beauty of its environment and the health of its ecosystems.
While you contemplate the economy-killing, low-wage job strategy of our Council members, be aware that the Friends of the San Juans have just today been awarded over $230,000 in new 2013 grants from the state for salmon recovery projects. Other County entities won a further $80,000 in grants. I am sure that news makes your recent $1.6 billion decline in equity much more palatable.
Also, while you contemplate the Council's passage of the largest County budget in history, peruse the benefit plan of County workers, and ask yourself how many other workers in the County might get an equivalent package. I'm not against paying good benefits, but it seems especially ironic that our County government should have among the best pay and benefits package in the islands while our Council pushes economy-killing, low-wage policies on the rest of us.