How your vote impacts jobs and unemployment

There’s a ton of info about how your employment status or socioeconomic standing will impact your voting habits and selections. But what about the other way around? How does your vote affect jobs and one’s standard of living?

Your Vote Could Create or Wipe Out Jobs

We can assure you that your vote can move the dial. Casting your vote can change things that directly touch employment — like labor laws and workforce development. It can also influence things that are more indirectly associated — like economic policy and foreign trade.

Employment as a Voting Motivator

Understanding the connection between your job situation and your likelihood to vote may be helpful. It illustrates the magnitude and nature of this relationship. So, here are some key tidbits to keep in mind:

  • The unemployed are more likely to vote are more likely to vote for Democrats.
  • The unemployed are expressing higher levels of discontent than in the past; the more discontent a person is, the more likely he or she is to vote.
  • Unemployment, especially involuntary job loss, during a period of rising or high unemployment drives voters to the polls
  • Low-income earners are less likely to vote but more likely to choose Democrats. High-income earners are more likely to vote and more likely to choose Republicans.
  • Your job class can be a predictor of your voting tendencies. (It also tends to be highly correlated to your sex, which can also be a good indicator of voting.)
  • COVID and the economic fallout from the pandemic are factoring in to the 2020 electoral landscape. There’s a record number of un-/under-employed people (many of whom also lost their health insurance coverage). Many of these would-be workers are not happy with the speed or level of governmental response in their time of need. This dissatisfaction is expected to drive voter turnout at the polls.

Your Vote, Your Levels

Now that you know some employment-related factors that can get a voter to the polls, you may be wondering how your personal vote actually contributes. You’re depositing your ballot in the box — so what? Cue all the “drop in the ocean” quotes!

More Than a Simple Numbers Game

There’s a reason there are so many drop-in-the-ocean quotes. This metaphor speaks to a fundamental truth. We as individuals play a role in our larger communities and society.

There have been several elections and ballot measures decided by the narrowest margins. Literally a few votes. Your vote could be an outcome-maker.

Aside from the vote tally, though, political participation promotes economic equality. A study from February 2019, found that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 expanded access to voting for minorities. This resulted in higher voting rates among minorities and subsequently better employment opportunities and conditions for them.

It’s also important to think about what the absence of your vote means:

“A Portland State University study found that fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters were turning out to vote for mayors, council members, and other local offices. Low turnout means that important local issues are determined by a limited group of voters, making a single vote even more statistically meaningful.” (Source)

Power on Many Levels

This snippet introduces the idea of levels of government. When you cast your ballot, you’re actually voting in multiple layers of elections, typically local, state and federal.

Sometimes we get so fixated on the presidential contest that we lose sight of local and state races. Many would even argue that the outcomes from elections closer to home are more critical to one’s daily existence than the national one.

  • The chosen representatives determine laws, regulations, codes and so on that govern your life.
  • The ballot measures that pass or fail could also have significant meaning for your day-to-day activities.

When you’re questioning the weight or relevance of your one thin ballot slip, don’t forget you’re registering your opinion on the people and legislation that have control over economic and employment matters at every level.

Areas of Employment Impact

We already mentioned some spheres in which voting impacts employment. But let’s dig a tad deeper. Once you start looking, you’ll see how your vote really does have touchpoints all over the economy.

Below is just a handful of the many issues your vote can effect. Your vote can make a difference by directly passing or rejecting ballot measures or indirectly by electing representatives who act on your behalf.

Unemployment Benefits

This is a hot topic, one that’s been in the media a lot lately. The amount of, duration of and requirements to qualify for benefits is set by the state governments with federal oversight. The national government can also grant special supplemental jobless assistance packages.

Labor Laws

This covers everything from child labor to overtime pay to the right to unionize. As you can imagine, you as a worker are touched by labor laws in countless ways. Maybe you’ve heard heated debates over minimum wage rates or workplace conditions in the coronavirus era?

Workforce Development

Worker training or retraining programs, professional certification or licensure systems and job placement services programs fall into this category. Funding for these frequently originate from the government sources. The people you elect are responsible for allocating that money or devising mechanisms for disbursing resources (e.g., grants or scholarships).

Immigration

This could encompass the right to work in the US, guest worker programs and fixing the Dreamer Act. Essentially, it’s legislation that dictates how foreign-born individuals can lawfully live and work in this country. Considering that 17.4% of the American workforce is from elsewhere, this is a big deal.

Infrastructure

Building and maintaining roads, public facilities, parks and more are huge job creators. Moreover, they have ripple effects and create demand (aka more jobs) in upstream sectors (like the lumber industry). Infrastructure projects are often approved and funded via elections and championed by elected officials.

Tariffs

Because they work at a more macro level, tariffs may be less obvious than other items on this list. They can, however, exert a heavy hand on employment. When tariffs are part of the economic (and foreign) policy, it can shift demand levels for American goods and labor. This demand adjustment trickles down to jobs and earnings. Elected representatives and their delegates establish tariffs.

tl;dr

Your vote can move mountains. It has power to influence or change the people, laws, programs, etc. that impact our economy and employment issues. This is especially true when you consider local and state races, not just the more-discussed presidential election.

So, go #IGNITEtheVote and let your voice be heard. Make your views on job-related issues be counted. Exercise your power to help shape a bright future for our country’s workers and businesses.