Jobs! Jobs! Politicians and TV talking heads have been saying we need more jobs since the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Well, now we have some good news about jobs. The American economy has made up all the jobs lost during the crisis. This would seem to be a positive trend. However, all jobs are not equal, especially when it comes to wages.
In today’s Chicago Sun-Times, Maudlyne Ihejirka has written a detailed account of this situation. She tells the story of an experienced child care teacher with a salary of 35,000 who was laid off and could only find a new job playing $12.25 an hour (a little more than $25,000 per year). 41% of job losses were in higher wage industries. Only 30% of new jobs have been generated in those industries. Hiring patterns complicate the problem. As I noted in a recent post, more companies are relying on long term contract and temporary employees to fill open positions. A graph accompanying Ihejirka’s article notes that temporary jobs were the leading source of job growth in the U.S. over the last year.
The one problem I have with the article is that it suggests that most of these jobs are at the minimum wage of $7.25. Many low wage workers make $8-$12 an hour, which is still not enough to raise a family or even survive as an individual. Companies are also avoiding paying benefits by limiting hours or scheduling employees on an on-call basis with no guarantee of hours. Moving the minimum wage to $15 may sound extreme, but it is based on the reality of life in most American big cities.
Bill Clinton with help from Newt Gingrich and the GOP ended “welfare as we know it.” More people are working now than ever before. The problem is that there are more and more low wage workers who need help from government programs to pay for life’s necessities, such as rent and food. In essence, we have moved from a system that rewards individuals who don’t work to one that subsidizes large corporations and big investors by helping to house and feed their employees.
Rather than worrying about benefits given to poor people, we should focus on corporate welfare and tax breaks to the “job creators” who have been raking in record profits and increased income on their billions. The problem is not jobs. It’s pay, and who is getting paid.
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?
[On Sundays, this blog looks beyond jobs and careers.]
The 1% speaks for the 99%.
Nick Hanauer is a rich man, an entrepreneur, part of the 1%. He gave a speech at TED that lasted a little over five minutes. However, if you go to the popular website, the speech can’t be accessed. Hanauer’s talk was deemed too political.
Hanauer argues against the claim that rich people like himself are job creators. He says, “Sometimes the ideas we are certain are true are dead wrong.” Instead, he points to consumers, especially the middle class, as the true catalysts for economic growth. Using himself as an example, Hanauer asks how much the rich can stimulate the economy. They can only buy a limited number of cars and clothes.
Like all myths, this one comes wrapped in metaphor. Hanauer looks at the term “job creator” and say it is just a “small jump” to “the creator.” The wealthy give them selves a special status, even if it’s not justified by any hard evidence. Hanauer considers the last ten years and says the increase of wealth at upper incomes should mean we have a great economy. Instead, we have one of the worst in history. “We’ve had it backwards for the last 30 years.” Hanauer concludes that the “true job creators are middle class consumers.”
TED’s decision to take down this talk is very disappointing. The site features presentations by liberals and conservatives, including Arianna Huffington and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. Luckily for us, the wonder of the internet has preserved Hanauer’s talk. It can be accessed through articles in Huffington Post and the Atlantic. I remain a big fan of TED, but, in this case, the people who run it were not true to their own principles.
Hanauer has written two books that outline his political beliefs, which can also be explored at True Patriot Network, Hanauer’s project with his writing partner Alan Liu. This website promotes a progressive version of America based on these values: “service, stewardship, tolerance, and equality of opportunity.” It offers ways to engage on the issues that Hanauer and Liu define as true patriotism.
Agree with him or not, Nick Hanauer cares about this country. His voice deserves to be heard.
We've heard about the "job creators," the wealthy who should not have to pay taxes. Radio host Thom Hartmann put a different spin on this concept by referring to workers as "Wealth Creators." Hartmann said the real problem with our economy is that since the 1980s more and more of wealth created by working people in the form of increased productivity has gone to the wealthy, not working class or middle class people who would spend it.
Keep that in mind: Workers = Wealth Creators!
In today’s Think Progress, Zaid Jilani reports on Nick Hanauer (based on a profile in Bloomberg Businessweek), a venture capitalist who has funded several successful companies. Does he call himself a job creator? No. Hanauer says the middle class creates jobs because they buy things. I would add that lower wage working people and the poor also feed the economy through their spending. If salaries are cut and unemployment benefits cut, people have less money to spend. Less spending means fewer jobs. Government austerity does not bring more jobs.
Three cheers for Nick Hanauer, an honest man.
For weeks, we’ve been hearing about “job creators.” Sarah Anderson and Chuck Collins have taken a look at this definition and turned it on its head. They note that left and right wing think tanks have debunked the myth that tax cuts lead to job creation. Moreover, they expose a lobbying group called “Working to Invest Now in America” (WIN) that is trying to get tax breaks on any corporate profits that are repatriated to America. Anderson and Collins understand the game corporations are playing, and they call those greedy organizations by their proper name: Job Destroyers.