I recently had a chance to visit with Martin Luther King III. He is touring the country (and blogging about it) to call new attention to the pressing issue of poverty. St. Louis was one of his stops.
It is no secret that many of the City’s most urgent challenges are due to poverty. More than 20 percent of families in the City live in poverty and face impossible choices every day.
Far too many low-income families here rely on under-employed adults. That’s why I support an increase in the state or federal minimum wage and increased federal subsidies for child care.
And many other City families rely on unemployed adults. We have no chance at making any real gains against crime as long as adults and those who depend on them do not have legal pay checks. That’s why I support Dr. Creg William’s efforts to ensure that every graduate of the public schools is ready for a good college or a good job; and why I have added new staff to support Tom Jones’ work at SLATE.
They’ve had some success: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of our workforce is growing as is the size of our employed population. According to the BLS, we had nearly 2,000 more people in our City’s workforce at the end of 2005 than we had at the end of 2004. And we had roughly 3,300 more employed people than we had in 2004.
But, we need an even greater effort. Poverty makes lives and government too difficult.
We now need the strong support of our City’s businesses — to employ, to train, to mentor, to share, and to use local small businesses.
More jobs and bigger paychecks are the solutions to a million urban problems.