Writing in Think Progress, Alan Pyke reports that wages fell by 3.8% during the first three months of 2013. This is the largest drop in the 65 years that this statistic has been measured. I’ve written in the past that too little attention is being paid to stagnant or falling wages. Even if inflation is low, too many people are falling behind because they are not keeping pace with increased costs.
What can we do as working people? Don’t be loyal to companies that are screwing us. Anyone who is unhappy with their current pay or benefits needs to dust off their resume and start looking for a better employer. In the same three months that wages have fallen at a record pace, several of my clients have found new employers that increased their salaries.
How did they do that? First, they aligned their skills, experience, and achievements to what potential employers needed. Second, they looked hard to find a job. They didn’t wait for the job to come to them. Third, they did not take jobs that offered the same kind of salary or benefits. There is no guarantee that you will find a better job. However, if you don’t look, there is a guarantee that you are locking yourself in a work place that does not value or compensate your work.
If you’re unhappy with the way your current employer is treating you, get active and make a change.
Travis Waldron of Think Progress reports on a on a disturbing trend: college graduates working low wage jobs. The statistics are a bit confusing, but the bottom line is that even college grads are now having trouble finding jobs that pay well. Waldron explains that most of the new jobs generated in the post-recession economy have been low wage, which means that will be all that is available for some college grads. He also notes that these better educated workers will push less qualified candidates out of the job market. This trend needs to be watched – and worried over.
More bad news for working people. Travis Waldron of Think Progress reports that corporate earnings have increased 20x more than workers’ disposable incomes since 2008. Waldron present another sickening statistic: “From 2009 to 2011, 88% of national income growth went to corporate profits while just one percent went to workers’ wages, and hourly earnings for workers actually fell over that time.”
As Waldron asks, if the job creators (also known as the “makers”) are doing so well, where are the jobs? We might add the questions: Where are the raises? Where are the healthcare increases? Where are the 401K matches? Why doesn’t Marissa Mayer provide her employees the same on-the-job day care she gives herself? It’s pure, simple greed.
Conservatives condemn government action to support workers as a matter of “picking winners and losers.” Given Waldron’s report, workers clearly have been the losers over the last five years. When will they get to win?
Writing in Think Progress, Pat Garofalo reports that Wisconsin legislators are now trying to attack private sector unions in the name of “preventing layoffs.” The plan is called “work-sharing,” and it would allow companies with union workers to cut hours without consulting unions. The only way working people will be safe from such schemes is to vote for politicians who support labor rights; however, they are hard to find these days. It will be interesting to see how Governor Walker reacts if this measure is passed. Who frightens him more, the Koch Brothers or the voters?
All eyes on Wisconsin – again.
Think Progress reports disturbing news about college graduates and salary: Men are making more than women – even if they graduate with the same major. Overall, female new graduates are earning .82 to the dollar earned by their male classmates. The studies cited in the article point to clear discrimination against women. Feminists in the 1970s would say, “We’ve come a long way.” While that is true in many ways, when it comes to paying women fairly, America has a long way to go.
According to an a short article in Think Progress, 30% of American said they expect to work until they are 80 years old, which would mean many people would work until they died. If that’s not sad enough, think about the jobs that won’t be opened for younger workers. Yes, people should be able to make choices to live how they want to. At the same time, we need to think about others and how our choices impact them.
Think Progress reports that it has been one year since Republicans in the Congress blocked the “Jobs Act.” This bill would have provided money for infrastructure projects and funds to keep public employees in their jobs. In the past, such bills were passed because they help Americans regardless of party. Now the Republicans in Congress say no to everything that might help the economy. They want to use the issue to beat President Obama and the Democrats. This isn’t politics. It’s shameful.
P.S. Paul Krugman blogged about the impact of the Jobs Act, which would have increased GDP by 1.5% and generated more than 2 million jobs. Krugman says there is only one conclusion why this bill didn’t pass: It would have been a big boost to President Obama’s re-election.
According to an article by Travis Waldron of Think Progress, 25% of the hourly workers in the U.S. have to make do with wages that are less than $10 per hour. Waldron documents that this kind of job is increasing. Many of these workers are employed by very profitable corporations.
Clients always ask me about unemployment, which I admit is a problem. However, wage stagnation and decline is a much bigger problem. Today I met a client who works in healthcare as a medical assistant. He has three certifications. A year ago he was working a 40 hour week and only making $14 an hour (about $28,000 a year, not much in Chicago). Last week he learned that his company had fallen on hard times, his hours have been cut to 28 a week and his pay cut to $12 an hour. Hourly employees have been given no indication that the company’s owners or managers have made a similar sacrifice. Is this the America that some call exceptional? I’d call it embarrassing.
Some true stories are still unbelievable. Think Progress reports that Bill Johnson resigned after working one day as CEO of Duke Energy. Johnson’s “golden parachute” – don’t choke – could be worth up to $44 million. The article explains the details, which I’m to disgusted to think about.
This story illustrates how the system in this country is geared in favor of the ultra-rich and powerful. Right-wing politicians and think tank spokespeople condemn unemployment as “welfare,” but none of them will criticize million dollar handouts to failed executives, especially those who can make $44 million after one day on the job. As the song says, “Nice work if you can get it.”