Politicians are always promising to create jobs for their communities. But where do these mythical “good jobs” come from?

Like many others in our community, I graduated UC Davis in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis. I cobbled together four part-time jobs to pay the bills, but I feared that I’d have to pack up my life in boxes and sleep in my car. What prevented me from becoming homeless was the job that I got as a lab technician funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

When I joined the lab, there were 15 people who were employed from NIH grants. Many of us were not your typical “scientist.” Jane had never studied science before she started working in the lab, but she grew to love it and was a great supervisor to me. I myself was daunted by the idea of working in the ivory tower of “Science.” But as I grew into my position I realized that jobs in scientific research are not reserved for a select few academics. These federally funded laboratory jobs are accessible to all kinds of amazing and hard-working people in our community.

When Congress cut NIH funding, several people in my lab had to be let go. Jane was let go just when she was expecting a promotion. She had grown up in Yuba County, but had to move to Southern California to find work.

My lab was not the only one affected by the funding cut. UC Davis hires thousands of local people from all over the valley using federal non-defense spending including 22,000 professional and support staff – nearly double the 12,000 academic jobs at the university. When federal non-defense spending is cut, many of these support jobs disappear and money and jobs leave Yuba County.

The jobs created by non-defense funding are not out of reach or reserved for a select few. They are good jobs that I truly believe any of us in the community can do. If we want to provide more of these jobs, we need to tell Congress to increase non-defense spending before the deadline at the end of the month. Federal non-defense funding doesn’t just push health research forward and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation. Non-defense funding boosts the local economy in our communities by providing good, accessible jobs that allow our residents to prosper.

Caitlin Tiffany

Yuba City, Ca.

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