Steve Early has a great article in the Nation that examines corporate wellness programs. The programs sound good on the surface since they promote, as Early puts it, “a social good.” The deeper problem is about employer’s motives and the real impact of the program. Employees who don’t comply with the program will face higher payments for healthcare if they fail to meet standards set by the employer. Is the real purpose of such programs better health for working people or a shift of health care costs from employer to employee? Given how the wage game has been going for the past few decades, it’s not too cynical to say that employers’ first concern isn’t the employees’ health. It’s a stealth and selective salary cut, another way to push money up and pain down.
Recently Pioneer Press (which is owned by the Chicago Sun-Times) told editors and writers that it would changing their roles with the paper, which would impact compensation. The changes must have been pretty dramatic, because several editors and writers quit.
Journalism is one of the most challenged industries today. The industry seems to shrink and shed jobs by the day. Some of these journalists had been with the organization since the 1980s. Their decision to quit says something about what their employer was offering.
I’ve said before that I don’t recommend quitting a job until you’ve found something to tide you over. However, there are times when the “offer” is an insult. These journalists made a bold decision. They felt exploited and would not accept a wage that was beneath their skills and contribution. Best of luck to them.
I'm on vacation in Michigan and was going to take a few days off from blogging. However, I saw an article in the Detroit Free Press that forced me to the keyboard. Of Americans laid off between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2011, 56% have found jobs. The articles says "only," which is misleading, given current hiring trends. It takes longer to find a job.
Here's the real problem - pay. One third of people who found a new job are making 20% less than before. The only way around this problem is to keep looking for a job that will pay a better wage. Most companies aren't giving raises or only offering minimal raises. The article tells the story of an IT professional who was making $80,000 who now makes $9.15 providing tech support. The media loves this kind of story. It's frightening. Don't listen to it. If the young man cited in the article had the experience and skills to be hired for a job that pays $80,000, there's no reason he is locked in a near minimum wage job. He has to keep looking for work and remember to sell the qualities that brought him the better wage. It's not easy. But it's the way things are going to be for a while. No one is safe -- be ready to move. Keep looking for something better.
The February edition of Inc. magazine provides these interesting numbers. Since the fourth quarter of 2008, U.S. corporations have earned $609 billion in profits.
Over the same period, the same companies have cut wages and benefits by 171 billion.
If this is the worst economy for the Great Depression, it seems to be pretty good for a few people. The rest of us are waiting for the recovery. We might be waiting for a long time.
In many posts, I’ve written about furlough days, changes in commission structure, and salary cuts. The impact of these changes in compensation is measured well in a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, hourly wages have fallen by 1.3% from December of 2008 to December of 2009. A quick look at the graph accompanying the article shows that most of the change occurred from July through December, which means we are still on a downward slope.
Generating new jobs is important. It is just as important to maintain good, living wages. Instead, many people are facing wage cuts at the same time that their share of insurance benefits are going up. Our political leaders need to find some way to protect workers as well as they protect special interests like banks and the pharmaceutical industry.
To read the report and see its eye-popping graph, click here.