We often talk about a pyramid or a hierarchy of jobs, with “foundational jobs” providing the base upon which service, government and other jobs are built.
While those comparisons still hold, the COVID-19 crisis is showing us just how interconnected our jobs have become, in more of a complex matrix of support and dependence.
Transportation – specifically trucking – is a classic example of a foundational job sector. Trucking involves trucking companies, truck drivers, logistical support personnel, warehousing, truck dealers, mechanics of several types, diesel techs, tire stores, gas stations, truck stops, road construction, and highway maintenance.
Each of these people have what we would consider a foundational job because they are all necessary for us to have food, health and hygiene products, repair items for our homes and cars, heating oil, and other daily needs.
Truckers and all the people who support them are essential for the delivery of essential services. And because they must continue to operate to sustain our way of life, they continue to earn wages, spend money to support small businesses and service sectors, and pay taxes to support public workers and government programs.
Transportation is foundational because it is propping up many other elements of our economy.
Looking through the other end of the lens, we see how many foundational jobs it takes to support the delivery of health care services, especially during a health crisis.
Health services cannot be provided without essential support from the foundational sectors of food, energy, construction, transportation, and manufacturing among others. Without those foundational sectors hospitals and providers wouldn’t have the ability to provide the excellent health care services that are saving lives every day.
However you choose to look at it, there’s no denying that foundational jobs are connected to everything else we need to do as a society. They make things and move things, no matter the situation or economic conditions.
For too long, Maine has not prioritized the foundational sectors as vital to our economy, our public programs and our way of life. We need to celebrate their contributions in this crisis and recognize their importance to our long-term economic future.