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'Dirty Jobs' star Mike Rowe: There’s no such thing as a ‘nonessential worker’


'There's something tricky with the language going on here'

Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Former "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe made the case recently that there is really no such thing as a "nonessential worker."

The founder of the Mike Rowe Works Foundation made the comments during an interview with Fox News host Dana Perino Tuesday while the two were discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the landscape of work in America.

In an effort to combat the spread of the infectious disease, many state officials across the country have shut down businesses in their state deemed "nonessential."

"Right now, there is this fascinating conversation going on on your network and all the networks, where we are making a distinction between essential workers and nonessential workers," Rowe explained. "Not to oversell it, but there's something tricky with the language going on here because, with regard to an economy, I don't think there is any such thing as a nonessential worker."

Rowe was responding to a previous guest on the program, a physical therapist from Nashville who, as is the case with many Americans, was recently furloughed after her job was deemed nonessential.

"What she does for money is obviously very important to her family, but it's also important to all of us, because this is basically a quilt, and if you start pulling on jobs and tugging on careers over here and over there, the whole thing will bunch up in a weird way."

Rowe went on to acknowledge that in a crisis, essential workers do exist, and that in a situation such as the one the country is facing now, it is appropriate for us to look to health care workers and the like.

His issue, rather, is with the language officials are using to describe and distinguish that work.

"I just wanted to make the point that, when we talk about the economy, all work is essential," Rowe said. "Maybe it's a distinction without too much of a difference, but in my mind, there is no such thing right now as a nonessential worker."

Perino responded to Rowe's comments in agreement, adding that for someone who "maybe just had a double-knee replacement" and has to go to physical therapy, a physical therapist would be an essential worker.

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