WASHINGTON (August 19, 1997) -- Workers are uneasy about their future, and the gap between rich and poor in the United States continues to grow, according to the U.S. Bishops' annual Labor Day statement.
The statement, titled Economic Progress: Looking Beyond the Numbers and dated Labor Day, September 1, was issued by Bishop William S. Sklystad, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on Domestic Policy.
The Committee speaks for the nation's Catholic Bishops on U.S. national issues.
"There is uneasiness in the land," Bishop Skylstad said. "While more people have work, many workers feel insecure about their future. As welfare recipients try to join the workforce, some find no jobs, while others struggle to raise their families with very low wages," he said. "Some business leaders are creating jobs, other corporations seek mergers, downsize workforces, and uproot local companies without apparent concern for the immediate community. A recent strike focused on the growth of part-time jobs in the economy."
"Perhaps most disturbing of all," he added, "is the widening gap between the rich and the poor in our land."
Bishop Skylstad noted that this nation has just seen "a dramatic rise in the income gap between high- and low-income families, reversing uninterrupted progress in the postwar period toward lower inequality."
"The Bureau of the Census reports that upper-income groups experienced substantial income growth in the 1980s (the average income of the top one percent of American families grew 87.5 percent), while the bottom 40 percent of families experienced a decline," he said. "Common sense tells us that some things should be different."
"Workers who add to the wealth of the company and the community should share in the prosperity they help create," he said. "A single parent, accepting responsibility for her life and that of her children, should be better off participating in the workforce than receiving welfare. Businesses that create jobs and serve local needs should prosper. Corporations have an obligation to the people and communities they serve, as well as increasing their return on investment. The economy should be moving toward full employment with prosperity shared fairly and widely. We should be growing together not pulling apart."
Bishop Skylstad noted that "every American has a role to play in the direction of the economy."
"Every Catholic is called to work in pursuit of economic justice," he added. He urged Catholics to study the ten principles of economic justice outlined by the Bishops in their brief document, "A Catholic Framework for Economic Life."