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Mitt Romney (Scott Audette/Reuters)
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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:46 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Issue a challenge to Slick WIllard and friends (10+ / 0-)

    Make a $10K bet that they can't live for a month — just a month like Barbara Ehrenreich did in Nickled and Dimed on low paying retail jobs. SInce she wrote that book, gas costs more, healthcare costs more, food costs more, and housing costs more. IMO it would be even harder to do what she did when she wrote NaD because the state of the economy was better.

    •  Also the physical challenges. (8+ / 0-)

      I know someone who's younger than Romney but not by all that much who worked briefly at Staples and had a lot of climbing up and down ladders and the like that left him exhausted at the end of the day, and might have left him worse than exhausted if he had had to stick with it for long.

      The physical aspects of this kind of work being something I'm thinking about today after reading Mac McClelland's piece about working in a warehouse.

    •  Nickle And Dimed (5+ / 0-)

      One of my favorite books showing how a fit 40ish PhD biologist had a bitch of a time surviving on minimum wage jobs - she took 4 as I recall: waitress, cleaning lady for a chain, nursing home (the job she actually kind of enjoyed), and Wal-Mart.

      The latter is the closest to the big-box chain jobs Willard's supposedly created and it was a horror story from Ehrenreich's pov. Petty, difficult, demanding and poor wages.

      The author points out that a place to stay is the toughest thing for a low wage earner to come by - no mention of even thinking about medical care.  Ehrenreich cheated, in a way, by allowing herself to keep her car so that transportation would not be such an issue though she did pay for everything else out of her wages.

      Great book and still relevant if you want to understand how hard it is to make a go of it with $9/hr if you're one of the lucky ones.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:26:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I work in the office products (13+ / 0-)

    industry and Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax have decimated it.  Owners of small, independent stores have been put out in the cold,losing all of their wealth.  The people who were lucky enough to get a management job with one of those giants make less and work more.

    Consolidation continues now, as more and more of the smaller guys have to merge just to try to stay afloat.

    •  Damn (0+ / 0-)

      Sounds like what Walmart has done to just sooooooo many small businesses all across our country, doesn't it?

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:40:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Willard loves to fire people, especially Poor ppl (7+ / 0-)

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:21:13 AM PST

    •  Those Plastic Raincoats Will Keep Them Dry (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doraphasia

      but maybe not warm.

      cf. Willard's tone-deaf remarks at NASCAR.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:29:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  401k matching... for $9/hr employeees (7+ / 0-)

    Now that is a sick joke. How many people making $9/hr, actually have a 401k account?

    •  depends on what part of the country you're in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc

      Actually, my cousin in South Carolina was absolutely elated to get a $9.25/hr. job recently and yep, they do have a 401K match up to a certain amount of her income.  Of course, she can't afford to put anything into it because of the huge gasoline costs to get her back and forth to work lately, but she's hoping that will change or she will get those promised "automatic" pay increases.

      She said she makes less than the secretaries in the front office that sit in their bosses laps...but, that's been the case for eons, hasn't it?  

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:14:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And Those High Gasoline Prices (0+ / 0-)

        Will probably drive people in the same boat as your cousin to vote for a Republican in hopes that more and more drilling will keep the price of fuel down.

        Is this a great country or what?

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:31:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TerryDarc, doraphasia

          can't stand the stupidity of the American people any longer.

          They are helping the criminal elite destroy all of us.

        •  She's a repub, Terry (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TerryDarc

          South Carolina...get the picture?  

          All I hear from her  (and, it's just on Facebook because I live too far away) is that when the Bushman was in office the dems went after him and Cheney for causing high gasoline prices so as to pad their pockets and now no one is saying about how high gasoline is when Obama is in office.

          - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

          by r2did2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:43:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ;-) (0+ / 0-)

            I was going to write that first sentence "Will probably drive your cousin to vote for a Republican" but I thought, no, I'll credit your cousin with good sense.

            American people are demagogued into voting against their own rights by the BS of abortion, gun ownership, prayer in schools/religion, contraception, etc, etc. It IS enough to drive one bugfuckloco.

            Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

            by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 11:09:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  What is the match anyway? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, ER Doc, Matt Z

    There's a big difference between say, 1% match and 10% match.

  •  I believe Staples is owned by the Koch Brothers nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Hohenzollern

    "Your image of God creates you." Richard Rohr

    by createpeace on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:10:27 AM PST

    •  Go to Office Depot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc

      That takes care of that.

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:15:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually Staples Is Bluer (0+ / 0-)

        And I doubt owned by any Koch. In the Blue Book, of all the office supply places, Staples was the one that gave more to Dems than Repubs.

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:33:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was just offering a solution (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TerryDarc

          Haven't got a clue about how blue ANY of them are.

          - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

          by r2did2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:34:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Opps, I have now learned to verify first, sorry. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TerryDarc

            Back to Staples I go....

            "Your image of God creates you." Richard Rohr

            by createpeace on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:49:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The Blue Book (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              doraphasia

              Was published in 2003 IIRC (after Willard let go of Staples) and may have changed a bit.

              But of the three bigs: Office Depot, Office Max and Staples, the latter give more money to Dems than to Repugs. How they treat their employees is another thing but I suspect that blueness may trend down to fairness for employees.

              Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

              by TerryDarc on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 11:06:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  There's no there there. He is lousy even at the (3+ / 0-)

    things he thinks he is good at. What a monumental disaster.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:14:46 AM PST

  •  I'd be willing to bet Mittens (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, doraphasia

    doesn't even know what these McJobs pay. I'm reminded of Shitboy Bush who was once asked what the thought the income was of the average American. Perplexed, (which was his normal state of mind), Bush finally answered, "$200,000".

    The top .01% have no idea how the rest of us live. None whatsoever.

    "Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system." - Dorothy Day

    by Dave925 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:16:02 AM PST

  •  I guess the cashier at Staples won't be buying (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NovaNardis, doraphasia, Matt Z

    two Cadillacs.

    “Organized money hates me--and I welcome their hatred!” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by shoeless on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:23:20 AM PST

  •  Republican solution to the economy: (0+ / 0-)

    Aristocrats creating a nation of serfs.

    God be with you, Occupiers. God IS with you.

    by Hohenzollern on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:27:14 AM PST

  •  LAURA... is there a comparison chart (0+ / 0-)

    showing the number of jobs mitt created vs the number of jobs LOST when bain 'took over' businesses and that would compare the average salary of a pre bain take over job vs post?

     it seems we have another 'the devil is in the details' situation here... Romney keeps claiming he created jobs but we hear that the jobs he created are lessor then the ones he helped destroy.  this seems like another 'I SAVED THE OLYMPICS" moment where Mitt conveniently leaves out any info on HOW 'he" saved the Olympics.

    "Orwell was an optimist"

    by KnotIookin on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:28:03 AM PST

  •  This (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    swampyankee

    is the America both the Blues and the Reds want for the 99%.

    I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave

    This article made me sick to my stomach.

  •  I dont like this story. It gives wrong impressions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WillR

    First off, Staples and Sports Authority are retail outlets. Their workers aren't going to be paid all that much in comparison to people with professional degrees and more intellectual jobs. Had Romney taken over a cancer R&D firm, these statistics would be tremendously different. The quality of jobs created only reflects the types of businesses Romney and Bain improved. Nothing else. Thinking he should be creating $30/hr, + benefits, union jobs at retail outlets is just ridiculous.

    Second, "retail industry average" is an average for a reason. Not all retail is the same. Nordstrom is going to pay it's retail workers more because it's variable pay and they provide a much more important piece to Nordstrom's business plan. Likewise, the retail workers at Home Depot are going to get paid more because they generally have some valuable knowledge about how to use the products they are selling. This isn't so much the case for Staples or Sports Authority. The retail worker at Staples isn't expected to know about the differences between different varieties of staples and be able to discuss them with the customer. Nor is the retail worker at Sports Authority expected to know the difference between different types of footballs and be able to teach the customer about them. Not all retail is the same, and Staples and Sports Authority use workers that are relatively unknowledgable about their products compared to the industry. Hence the lower than average wage.

    Third, $9/hr doesn't get a family of three past the federal poverty line. It does, however, get a family of two out of poverty. It seems like you cherry-picked a "family of three" so that it would come out below the poverty line. And by the way, do we really think that a single individual should be able to support a family of three above the poverty line on a low-skill retail job? I don't.

    But what happens when you have two people in a household working at $9/hr? You get household income about $37.5K. Median household income in the US is less than $10k higher than that. So, the claims about these jobs not building the middle class are kinda bogus.

    Lastly, offering medical and 401k is a big deal. You know it's a big deal because you thought to ask about it. If you have two workers in a household working at one of these stores, it becomes vital and affordable to get medical coverage. It becomes even more important if one household member is an independent contract worker earning significant wages - meaning the retail job is primarily used as an "in" to medical coverage the family can afford as part of an employer group. The 401k is in a similar situation. But I'm not going to get into the messy details of all of this. The point is that health insurance and 401k offerings matter. They matter a lot, and Romney's companies offer them. He's not some corporate monster robbing the middle class and putting them into slave labor. That narative just isn't accurate.

    To avoid the inevitable attacks of shilling for Romney, I advise everyone to vote for Obama. There are plenty of good reasons to choose Obama over Romney.

  •  NORMAL GUY ROMNEY--- (0+ / 0-)

    as a religous guy, i do my laundry first by separating the whites from the coloreds.  the whites are better, and have a good chance of getting into heaven.

    as the family cook, each year a prepare the tax returns after cooking the books.

    though i do not follow NASCAR as my plastic raincoat wearing base do, and i do mean base, i have several friends who own NASCAR teams, and others who have owned shares in the Texas Rangers.

    i was never in the military, but my sons are front line soldiers in the war to put me in the White House.

    it is my firm belief that whatever goes without saying, i will say, and say it in a manner that sucks up to whoever is listening, so please only listen in small, non-conflicting groups, like that major turnout at Ford Field.

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