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You’re Working Longer & Harder So The Rich Can Get Richer

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Mother Jones chartMother Jones has a must-read cover story this month on The Great Speedup – how gains in worker productivity aren’t being shared with workers:

[I]ncreasingly, US workers are also falling prey to what we’ll call offloading: cutting jobs and dumping the work onto the remaining staff. Consider a recent Wall Street Journal story about “superjobs,” a nifty euphemism for employees doing more than one job’s worth of work – more than half of all workers surveyed said their jobs had expanded, usually without a raise or bonus.

In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent. […]

How does corporate America have the gall? You pretty much know the answer, but for official confirmation let’s turn to Erica Groshen, a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: It’s easier here than in, say, the UK or Germany “for employers to avoid adding permanent jobs,” she told the AP recently. “They’re less constrained by traditional human-resources practices [translation: decency] or union contracts.” In plainer English, here’s Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn: “Everything is tilted in favor of the employers…The employee has no leverage. If your boss says, ‘I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,’ what are you going to say-no?

In the face of this, what are Congressional Republicans like Rep. Eric Cantor proposing? Punish the people hurting the most to protect those benefiting from this grotesque “recovery.” Gut Medicare to preserve Bush/Cheney tax cuts for that 1% whose income has soared. Lay off government workers to maintain subsidies for Big Oil. And not a dollar to put an American back to work.

  • corinthian

    One of the worst medium-term effects of the recession is that corporations have found out they can get the same amount of work out of fewer workers. There is no reason for companies to hire new employees that they’re going to have to pay, provide benefits for, and treat with the legal minimum of respect. And the workers won’t complain because they don’t want to be thrown into the worst job market in decades.