Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Day Laborers' Barely Survive in These Bad Economic Times

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Day Laborers' Barely Survive in These Bad Economic Times

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Four o'clock in the morning is way too early to be served a slice of disappointment for breakfast.

Yet each day, dozens of people in Jacksonville wind up stomaching that, as they stand in line to scrounge for scraps of day labor work left by the recession and a once-booming Florida construction industry.

There's Demarco French, a 20-year-old Andrew Jackson High School graduate who told The Times-Union that the thought of his 6-month-old son motivates him to wake up that early to get down to the labor pool.

No matter that, if he gets work, he'll only make $26. For the whole week.

$30 A WEEK

There's Michael Stutts, a 46-year-old who makes around $30 a week, and does yard work and other odd jobs to pay his room rent.

That is, if he's lucky enough to get work.

Then there's David, a mechanical drafter who lost his job a year ago, and was too embarrassed to reveal his last name to The Times-Union. He made less than $50 after spending eight hours cleaning a warehouse.

The following day, he wasn't able to make anything.

Many of the skilled job seekers, like David, are casualties of the economic recession, a recession driven by the subprime mortgage crisis and the bursting of the real estate bubble.

But others, like Stutts and French, will likely continue to be long-term casualties of an economy that has, for a long time, been devaluing workers who have lower levels of skills.

LITTLE HOPE FOR FUTURE

Structural shifts in the state's economy has fueled much of the economic misery here, and has sent all types of workers scrambling for day labor and fast food work as a temporary fix.

But dependency on labor pool work often does little to prepare marginally skilled, impoverished workers to pull themselves out of their situation once the job situation improves.

For them, the cycle of day labor work, and door-to-door pleadings for odd jobs resumes. …

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