Last Friday, the Obama administration trumpeted that the economy is reviving because of the alleged decline in unemployment and concomitant increase in the number of new jobs. But according to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate actually rose to 10.3% at the end of February. Worse still, most of the new jobs are in the low-pay “hamburger flipper” sector.
Here are excerpts from Zachary Roth’s March 9, 2011 article for Yahoo! news, “Jobs Returning – But Good Ones Not So Much“:
• Lower-wage industries — things like retail and food preparation — accounted for 23% of the jobs lost during the recession, but 49% of the jobs gained over the last year, a recent study (pdf) by the National Employment Law Program found. Higher-wage industries, by contrast, accounted for 40% of the jobs lost, but just 14% of the jobs gained. In other words, low paying jobs are increasing as a percentage of total jobs, while high-paying jobs are on the decline.
• Meanwhile, the percentage of those working who have part-time jobs and want full-time ones surged in mid-February to 19.6% — almost as high as it was a year ago before the recovery began, according to Gallup numbers. That suggests, of course, that a large number of the new jobs created over the last year are part-time.
• And a recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that even though productivity rose 5.2% from mid 2009 to the end of 2010, wages increased by just 0.3%. That means only 6% of productivity gains were shared with workers. In past recoveries, that figure has averaged 58%. This time around, far more of the gains went to shareholders, in the form of profits, which are at record levels.
In other words:
- The Obama administration’s rosy picture about the economic recovery is a lie.
- The structural change in the U.S. economy which has been going on for some time now even before the present recession/depression struck in 2007 is real and our government is unable/unwilling to do anything about it. The structural changes include:
outsourcingexport and loss of manufacturing jobs;
- The movement down of those workers to lower-paying low-skill low-education “hamburger flipper” jobs; and
- The socio-political consequence is a diminishing middle class that bodes ill for democracy’s future.
- Conservatives shy away from this, but the miniscule 0.3% wage increase despite a 5.2% increase in labor productivity means that American workers are being screwed by their corporate masters. Remember what the late Christopher Lasch warned us in his prescient book, Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy:
There is a new global elite — comprised of multinational business corporations, Hollywood and pop music, news media, and professionals (bankers, traders, investors, lawyers,) — who are not nationalists because they make their living in/from a global market. The Americans among them have U.S. citizenship but don’t really care about America or the American people. They have more in common with their cohorts across the world. That is where their hearts are, and it’s not America.