California Now and Then

Flickr @DFAT

In Natalie Kiteoeff and Geoffrey Mohan’s article, “Wages rise on California farms. Americans still don’t want the job,” they describe the labor shortage due to Trump’s immigration crackdown, despite the increased wages. Without the large pool of immigration, there’s now too many job openings for less desirable positions that were usually taken up by the immigrants. This situation in California now is the opposite of what happened after the Dust Bowl.

In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wratch, the author describes the difficulty of finding a stable after the dust storm in Oklahoma due to the large pool of applicants, despite the depressingly low wages. Although the workers knew it wasn’t enough to live off of, they were still desperate enough to take the jobs because they knew someone else would have gladly taken their place.

On the other side of the spectrum, which is what California is like now, farmers still refuse to work for the seemingly low-paying jobs, despite the increasing wage, simply because there were various better opportunities open in other areas that are willing to pay more. People know that with the lessening pool of immigration in the country, the jobs are most likely always going to be open for them as long as the immigration crackdown continues. Nonetheless, the large pool of unemployment depicted in Steinbeck’s novel is just as bad as the labor shortages today, both for different reasons.


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