Cartoon: I’ve Tried Everything To Find New Workers


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I have to admit, this cartoon would have been more current back in May. But on the other hand, employers complaining about lazy workers – and seemingly not considering (or more realistically, refusing to consider) raising wages – is one of those stories that seems to pop up again and again over the years.

In this most recent iteration, various employers, Republican governors, and the US Chamber of Commerce all blamed staffing “shortages” on unemployment benefits, rather than low wages. It’s as if the most basic lesson of economics 101 – supply and demand – somehow fled their minds.

From 1950 until 1970 or so, the minimum wage rose at the same rate as worker productivity. But since then, productivity has skyrocketed while the minimum wage’s value has gone steadily down. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would now be around $24 an hour, according to economist Dean Baker.

Instead, low-wage pay in the U.S. hasn’t even kept up with inflation over the decades – meaning minimum-wage workers are in effect getting paid less and less. All that extra money from rising productivity is going to the people at the top.

Is there a way out of this? I think there is – but it would have to start with a stronger labor movement. Which is a cartoon for another day.


I’m having a lot of fun trying to improve my perspective drawing skills. It really slowed down drawing this cartoon. (Partly because I let myself draw details that got lost behind word balloons.)

There are cartoonists who do this sort of thing a lot better than I do – but I do feel I’m getting better, and that’s a really nice feeling.

As usual, when I was done drawing the cartoon, I looked at the ground and thought “that looks so bare,” and started adding leaves and pebbles and litter all over the place. I always feel a bit guilty doing that on cartoons that Frank Young is going to have to color, but Frank claims he enjoys all the little details.

My other big drawing challenge, in this cartoon, was the bike in panel two. Drawing bikes is something that’s really intimidated me in the past, so I’m pleased to have made this one work. (Or, I think it works. There’s always the chance I’ll look at that bike in two years and wince.)

On second thought, the biggest drawing challenge wasn’t the bike or the perspective drawings – it was drawing business dude in panel 3. Drawing someone from above and behind turned out to be very difficult – I had to redraw him a bunch of times before getting a figure I could stand.

The hardest part was the arm and hand holding the phone. The little hopscotch girl was kind to me and isn’t holding a phone, so she was much easier to draw.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon is four panels long. Each panel shows the same prosperous-looking middle-aged white man, wearing a suit and tie, walking on city sidewalks and talking loudly into his cell phone.

There’s an additional tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the comic.

PANEL 1

Necktie man is talking into his cell phone with an aggrieved expression. He’s walking pass an annoyed-looking young guy leaning against a wall. The young guy is wearing a backwards baseball cap, glasses, and a tank top, and he’s speaking to necktie man. Necktie man gives no sign of having heard.

NECKTIE: I’ve tried everything to find new workers! I’ve gone to job fairs… Offered them tee-shirts for applying…

WALL LEANER: Did you offer higher wages?

PANEL 2

Necktie dude is now in a different area, still looking aggrieved and talking loudly into his phone. On the street next to the sidewalk, a blonde woman on a bike, wearing a red bike helmet and a blue hoodie, talks to Necktie as she passes him.

NECKTIE: I can’t fill these jobs! I even got the government to throw people off unemployment… Nothing works!

BIKER: Have you tried offering higher wages?

PANEL 3

Necktie walks past a little girl playing hopscotch on the same sidewalk. The girl is wearing a purple skirt with puffy tool at the bottom, and a sleeveless tee with a pattern of red spirals.

NECKTIE: I’m offering unpredictable schedules, minimal benefits and $9 an hour! And they still don’t want my jobs?

LITTLE GIRL: You should offer higher wages.

PANEL 4

Necktie dude walks past a couple of casually-dressed protestors. The first protestor is holding a large sign that says “HIGHER,” and the second protestor has a large sign that says “WAGES.”

NECKTIE: I’ve tried everything. They just don’t want to work!

NECKTIE: Hello, governor? Can we arrest people for being unemployed?

TINY KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP

Necktie dude, still looking grumpy, is talking at Barry the cartoonist.

NECKTIE: I’d love to pay higher wages, but we don’t have the money! I had to get by on only a $38 million salary this year!


This cartoon on Patreon.

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