Even If Mitt Romney Did Create the Jobs He Claims, Their Low Wages Won't Bring Back the Economy
How many jobs Mitt Romney can claim to have created during his time at Bain Capital is a subject of debate (some of it debate Romney is having with himself). But if we take the job creation claims Romney has made to bolster his presidential run at face value, what kind of jobs are we giving him credit for?
For all Romney's abstract talk about the middle class, the jobs he touts having created are overwhelmingly at big-box retail chains—specifically Staples and the Sports Authority—and that means they're overwhelmingly low-wage jobs, even by the low standards of retail work. Bloomberg's Matt Townsend looks into these jobs, finding that:
Staples, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Sports Authority (TSA) of Englewood, Colorado, pay sales associates almost $3 an hour below the retail industry average of $11.92, excluding benefits. [...]
Staples offers its workers access to medical coverage, a 401k retirement plan with a company match program, discounted stock purchases and tuition reimbursement. The chain declined to confirm if part-time employees have access to those benefits. Closely held Sports Authority declined to offer any details on its benefits.
In translation: "Access" to medical coverage generally means "a plan few cashiers and stock clerks can afford," 401k matching is something companies can afford to be generous with since few $9 an hour workers can afford significant 401k contributions to have matched, and if a company won't say if part-time employees get benefits, you can bet they don't. Add to that the fact that retail workers at big-box stores rarely get full-time work and that, at $9 an hour, even working 40 hours a week doesn't get you to the poverty line for a family of three.
There are still valid questions about how much Romney actually had to do with creating these jobs, since "Bain didn’t discover the entrepreneurs who came up with the ideas for the chains, wasn’t their first investor, and ended its stake in the companies well before they grew into the national retailers they are today." But even if we give him 100 percent credit for every job at every Staples and every Sports Authority in the country, Mitt Romney still didn't do a whole hell of a lot to build the American middle class.