Letter: The shortage is in the jobs that pay living wage


I will say that I don’t blame all the people moving up here — Whidbey Island is beautiful and a peaceful getaway from city life. However, I will say that the hatred towards the sudden influx of newcomers isn’t unwarranted.

Washington state has become one of the highest cost of living areas in the country, and Whidbey has especially seen this increase over the past few years.

I’ve met new neighbors from California and Seattle. They are nice and just want a better living situation, but what they don’t understand is that they’ve priced out the people who’ve been here for years or even generations. Putting down $100K over asking price on a home not worth the amount it’s selling for is going to cause tensions between the locals and newbies.

I think this also falls into the bigger minimum wage debate. I listened to the NPR story that took place in Coupeville and was shocked that no one thought to interview the unemployed people living here. There isn’t a shortage of workers, there’s a shortage of jobs that are willing to pay their workers a living wage. It’s impossible to live on Whidbey making minimum wage, not to mention working retail is physically and mentally exhausting.

I’ve worked several jobs on this island and can say that the level of entitlement many residents have here is enraging; many times I’ve had customers not even treat me like a person. Why do we ask so much from the people we pay the least? Having your own business doesn’t mean you’re entitled to free labor. I’m so sick of this mentality that minimum wage work is for kids or lazy people who don’t deserve a living wage, and I hate how a server’s ability to pay their bills is based purely on the generosity of strangers. Funny how the “essential workers” of the pandemic are now back to being called “low-skill workers.”

There are even those who think there shouldn’t be a minimum wage anymore, and that companies will magically compete for labor and naturally raise wages. Clearly they choose to ignore what work was like before minimum wage was implemented. Gilded Age anyone? The folks like this never bother to actually consider inflation when comparing wage/costs. That $2/hour they made in 1965 or 1985 is equivalent to $17-$20/hour now. Not to mention worker productivity nearly doubled within that time period. It’s time to get out of this fantasy land and face the facts!

“No one wants to work anymore” What I think you mean is “No one wants to be exploited anymore”

Olivia Love,