Amy Eddings of Ring of Fire reports on the amazing scope of wage theft. Citing a study by the Economic Policy Institute, Eddings writes that the total amount workers lose through wage theft could be 2-3 times greater than criminal theft as measured by the FBI. Federal and state governments are making efforts to recover lost wages, but those efforts are understaffed. This story reminds us that workers are not just fighting low wages and poor working conditions. Some employers are stealing their employees’ labor. Shouldn’t they be treated like any other thief?
Huffington Post reports that income inequality costs the average American worker $18,000 a year. This number is drawn from an Economic Policy Institute report that considers how money has been redistributed from the working poor and middle class to the 1%. The question is not just lost income, but also how increased productivity has not been matched by increased salaries. Huffington Post author Jillian Berman puts it this way: “The rich have gotten richer at the expense of the rest of us.”
This article is another example of why good job news can hide deeper problems. If workers are getting low income jobs or not getting decent raise, they will have a constant feeling of falling behind, one step from bankruptcy – social insecurity. This problem will not be solved until something changes so there is a more equitable distribution of income and wealth. America needs a raise, the kind of raise that will let working people pay off their debts and save for the future.
Today saw a second straight disappointing month for job growth. The number again is positive, but not strong enough. Common Dreams has posted an article by Michelle Chen that looks beyond the monthly numbers. Chen, a writer at In These Times, lays bare the mainstream media lie that workers are to blame for unemployment because they have the wrong skills. Citing a study from the Economic Policy Institute, she finds that workers of all education levels are struggling in the current market. Chen concludes that the real gap is one of understanding. People who claim that skills are the problem do not know how the economy works.
I would add to Chen’s analysis by noting that many fields have been glutted by intense marketing from universities, colleges, and training programs. Professions that once had easy entry know have more applicants than open positions, which lets employers drive down salary costs. My simple take is that good jobs are hard to find and getting harder to find all the time. Employers have the upper hand, and they know it, which means wages will continue to stay flat or go down until real job growth happens. Given the attitude of both business and government, we might be in this negative cycle for a long time to come.
Laura Clawson of Daily Kos is the most important reporter on issues impacting workers. In her most recent post, she examines the claim that U.S. manufacturing has been in steady for decades. Using data and a great chart from the Economic Policy Institute,Clawson shows that manufacturing's most severe decline began in 2002 and has only recently seen a very small up tick.
Corporate media spreads memes and recycles clichés. Reporters like Clawson and Matt Taibbi ask us to think and look behind the headlines. That is the kind of journalism needed in a real democracy.