In North Carolina at least (and I suspect in many other states), this so-called economic recovery has come slowly — slower than the previous three recessions in 1981, 1990 and 2001, especially when it comes to jobs.
Our “job creators” are asking the people who work for them to work harder and then rewarding them by paying them less, according to a new report by the Budget & Tax Center at the NC Justice Center (http://www.ncjustice.org/sites/default/files/BTC-Brief-Working-Hard—Economy-Hardly-Working-Final.pdf).
According to the report: “Unlike in previous recoveries, productivity gains after the Great Recession have been transferred to capital income distributed to shareholders from corporate profits, rather than going to increased wages or new-job creation. As job creation has lagged amidst continuing high unemployment, the growing pool of jobless people in search of work has only increased competition for scarce jobs and served to drive wages down even further—more than 4 percent since the end of the recession in 2009.”
In other words, corporations are keeping the money and asking people to work harder and harder — or lose their jobs.
Already, the productivity of US workers is the highest in the world, but Big Money wants more from the workers, and they’re getting away with paying less — 4.2 percent less in North Carolina.
Three years ago, I attended an economic summit where a financial expert predicted the job market was about to boom because the productivity rate was so high and corporations were sitting on nearly $2 trillion dollars.
Well, corporations are still sitting on their money and workers are still being asked to do the jobs of two or three people and to be grateful they have a job at all.
What’s worst is that wages are falling fastest for the lowest-earning workers — the very people who need wage increases the most.
It’s starting to look a little like indentured servitude.
Since 2009, increasing inequality in pay has caused a significant drop in wages among the lowest fifth of earners, whose pay dropped 7 percent (from $10.18 to $9.47 an hour, according to the report), while the top fifth of earners experienced the same 4.2 percent drop as median earners.
America’s wealthiest claim they need more tax breaks to create more jobs; I think this report is evidence that all they want is more money.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, Life o' Mike Inc., named in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about Life o' Mike or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit lifeomike.org.