Monday, January 20, 2020

[NJFAC] Are Real Wages Rising?

Are Real Wages Rising or Not?    Frank Stricker
            Lately, some reporters have acknowledged that wage growth is not as fast as one would predict with unemployment below 4%. Some of them question whether unemployment is really as low as the headline rate. If unemployment is still significant, worker bargaining power must be weaker than expected. Of course, the low unionization rate also means employees cannot take full advantage of tighter labor markets.
            Real wage growth hasn't been all that great. Several reporters  (for example, AP writers in the Los Angeles Times business section and Ali Velshi on MSNBC) are misleading their audiences by focusing only on nominal wage increases. The other day I saw Mr. Velshi worry that a 2.9% increase in workers' pay packets was not as fast as expected in a strong economy. It wasn't, but after inflation is factored into the equation, the situation is much worse.
            Could the average employee buy 2.9% more stuff in December of 2019 than in December of 2018? Nope. In terms of purchasing power, a rank-and-file worker in the private sector had a real wage increase over the year of 0.7%. Yes, inflation is on the low side--just 2.3% last year--but that's enough to eat up modest wage increases of 2 to 3%. In terms of real pay, the average American worker essentially stood still last year.
            Some low-wage workers are doing better, due to market conditions and state and local minimum wage laws. For example, in California, the state minimum jumped 8.3% on January 1 to $13 an hour and the state's minimum has been advancing every year since 2017. But many states and cities do not have their own minimum wage laws. They are covered by the federal minimum, which is just $7.25 an hour. This absurdly low minimum ought to go down in history as a sign of just how morally corrupt are many people in the American leadership classes. And the situation is even worse in some states. Federal law permits states to allow employers of workers in tipped occupations to pay as little as $2.13 an hour. Employers are supposed to lift pay to $7.25 if tips don't do it. But many employers don't. In effect, federal law is an invitation to wage theft.
            Last year the Democratic House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act. It would increase the federal minimum to $15 and eliminate the tipped-wage provision. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that a $15 minimum could lift 40 million workers. The current Senate will not pass this bill, even though it is quite moderate and the wage would not get to $15 for several years.
            I've discussed last year's wage history, but how about trends? The real hourly wage for private-sector non-farm rank-and-file workers has finally surpassed the peak it reached in 1972-1973. Good. But, OMG, it took almost half a century to do it. In the 19 years since 2000 the average real wage increased a total of 13.7%. That's better than many other periods since the 1960s, but at less than 1% a year, it won't lift many people to a decent living standard.
**************************************************************************
Frank Stricker is a board member of NJFAN and emeritus professor, California State University, Dominguez Hills. His views are his own and not those of his organizations. His book, American Unemployment: Past, Present, and Future, will be out in June.

--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/458946680.16610599.1579553101284%40mail.yahoo.com.

Friday, December 27, 2019

[NJFAC] Way Better than A Christmas Carol by Frank Stricker

Read and be inspired by "Dreamers with Shovels: How the First New Deal Remade America,"
by Nelson Lichtenstein, in The American Prospect, the 2019 bonus issue on the Green New Deal
 
            There are lots of stories we tell ourselves during these holidays. Most ubiquitous of the secular tales is Dickens' Christmas Carol. I have a hard time with the traditional version. For one thing, I know how it is going to end--kinda like A Star is Born. I don't want to put myself through either one again--the latter because it is so depressing and we know it will be (four versions of that are enough for me), and the former because I've seen it a dozen times, and its politics are atrocious. At least in the United States, the capitalist conversion theme has always been a non-starter for 98% of the class. I think it may be worse today. I know: some very rich people have announced that they should be taxed more, but they really are a handful. Most of the very rich--and they are richer than such people have ever been in America--want to be taxed less and think they deserve to be billionaires.* And, according to Paul Krugman, they are not satisfied to live like kings. ("Warren Versus the Petty Plutocrats," New York Times, 9/30/2019). They expect to be treated like kings, lionized as job creators and heroes of prosperity. If Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic nominee, many will vote for Trump, despite his racist authoritarianism and not just because of the giant handouts he gave them in the 2017 tax cut--handouts that Warren wants to take back. They also think that Warren disrespects them. But she does not seem be bothered about big capital's hostility. Nor was another progressive politician. Franklin D. Roosevelt said this about the plutocrats: "They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred."
            There are plenty of flaws and bad ideas in every politician and Roosevelt had them. But he and other liberals interacted in creative and complex ways with a surging population of poor people and workers, and the result was a huge reset for power relationships in America. Yes, almost nothing was done to directly attack gender inequality or racial inequality and New Deal spending was insufficient to end the depression. But for the mass of the people there was a huge change: more jobs, more income, more job security, less repression from employers and from conservative--often Republican--politicians who had dominated their communities. Blacks in some cities got a disproportionately high number of positions in the WPA and the PWA, and it was often much better working for the federal government in the south than for private employers. "Laborite ethnics"--Roosevelt Democrats--won elections and took over local governments in many industrial towns. They defended freedom of speech for unionists, dismantled some Jim Crow traditions, and ran little New Deals that taxed businesses to pave the streets and build schools. In rural areas, small towns and large cities, thousands of local and federal government projects massively improved infrastructure. Not to mention that the New Deal laid the foundations of the American social-welfare state, including Social Security, the Wagner Act (not much enforced any more), and the minimum wage (so low now that it helps few people).
            Much of the New Deal's social democratic spirit and mass involvement carried over into the war period. One striking example: to track and limit inflation, federal managers not only hired 60,000 employees; they also enlisted and trained 300,000 volunteer "price checkers." And inflation was tamed, despite the greatest federal borrowing and spending spree in U.S. history to that time.
            In his terrific article Nelson Lichtenstein holds up the working-class-New Deal experience as an inspiration for the Green New Dealers of today.  He does not discuss why the spirit of that great movement dissipated. Nor specific lessons for today's social democrats and progressives, except the big point that the kind of big plans they want to realize were the kind that were realized in the 30s, and can be again. Certainly the story Nelson presents is exciting and inspirational. And it really happened.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
*Hold on: Are Krugman and I wrong and Dickens right? Salesforce chief Marc Benioff claimed that "Capitalism as we know it is dead." It is being replaced by businesses that are "driven by values, ethics and a desire to take care of employees." ("Touting Kinder, Gentler Values in Business," Los Angeles Times, Business section, 12/26/2019). Really? Let's check back in five years to see whether there was a surge in real wages and in union membership. I am pretty sure right now that Mr. Benioff  had a little too much Christmas rum and slipped off into Dickensland. Some big banks may serve more eco-friendly food in their cafes, but will workers gain substantial income? Will corporations refrain from so many stock buybacks? Will the lords of Wal-Mart and Amazon get behind unionization? I think we know the answer. If Trump wins again and the ideas of Warren and Sanders are seen to have been repudiated, even the era of good-feelings, paternalistic rhetoric may be over.
 
Frank Stricker is a board member of NJFAN and emeritus professor of history and labor studies, California State University, Dominguez Hills. His new book, American Unemployment, Past, Present and Future, will be out in June. His views here do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations he is part of.

--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/1414294980.4976901.1577488993093%40mail.yahoo.com.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

[NJFAC] Blood of poor Americans is now a leading export

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world's plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country's exports -- more than corn or soya.

There's more growth ahead for blood products, expected to "grow radiantly" according to an analyst who was cheering 13% growth between 2016-17.
One study found that the typical blood-seller derives a third of their income from selling blood. Princeton's Kathryn Edin called the commercial blood industry "the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor."

Mintpress's interviews with blood-sellers reveal "a mix of disabled, working poor, homeless, single parents, and college students," who describe a system of arbitrary and predatory payments, which fluxuate wildly from day to day.

Chronic bloodletting produces lethargy and cognitive impairment.....

link from nakedcapitalism

--
June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/CAPV%3DhmCmybMTiBDZ1B_FAOh8oD9Px%3DBp5s33cdEGKqJppx940Q%40mail.gmail.com.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

[NJFAC] About Unemployment and African Americans

Happy Thanksgiving for Black Americans? Unemployment Rates Are Low, So Give Thanks for That. But Make Sure the Dinner Guests Know the Whole Story      Frank Stricker
            You need some numbers. Maybe pick a few that stand out and slip them into the conversation between the appetizers and the main meal. Before people get a little bleary from too much food and drink.
Official Rates Deconstructed
1. In October of 2019, the share of African Americans who were unemployed was 5.4%. We don't know if that was the lowest level ever because we don't have numbers for the period before 1972. But 5.4% is the lowest rate in a long time and that's a real plus.
2. Now the negatives. The first is that black rates are still higher than white rates (and a little higher than Hispanic rates). Normally, the black-to-white ratio is about 2. In October white unemployment was 3.2%. Twice that number is 6.4%, so the black unemployment rate of 5.4% was less than twice the white rate. But just since May. And for how much longer?*
3. Also, there must be more hidden unemployment among blacks than whites. In most social groups there are always people who are not employed, want a job, but are not actively searching and aren't counted as unemployed. This group must be relatively larger for African-Americans for several reasons: the disproportionately high number of black people in prison, the high number of black people with prison records, and, lastly, because job opportunities in many locales are not good for African Americans, more of them stop looking for work and drop out of the unemployment count.
            A writer for Quartz online, Dan Kopf, reported on a striking thought-experiment that illustrates one of these points: if incarcerated males had been included in the unemployment totals for prime-age (25-54) males in 2014, those unemployment rates would have increased from 5% to 6.4% for whites, but from 11.4% to 18.6% for African Americans.
Should We Be Talking about "Full Employment" When Even Official Unemployment Rates Are Sky High in Some Cities and Rural Areas?
            A 2017 federal survey found that in many cities, unemployment rates were extremely high for black people. In 20 of 28 black-majority cities, black unemployment was at least 7 points higher than white unemployment. In Atlanta white unemployment was 2.5%, black unemployment 11.5%. In New Orleans, white unemployment was 2.3%, black unemployment 11.3%.
Does Work Pay Enough?
            Has lower unemployment and more work made the average minority household economically comfortable? In 2018 real median household incomes of $51,450 (Hispanic) and $41,361(African American ) were up since the Great Recession, but they were still far below comfort levels for most families and far below the average for whites ($70,642). Remember, too, that by definition, half the households of any population are below the median. Last year half of all black households lived on less than $41,361. Things can't be much different this year, so a lot of people, including a disproportionate number of African-Americans, won't have a happy Thanksgiving or a very merry Christmas this year.
            A related fact: minority poverty rates are high. The white rate fell from 13% in 2012 to 10% in 2018, the Hispanic rate from 26% to 18%, and the black rate from 27% to 21%. Fewer people in poverty is good and that's why we like economic growth. It trims the poverty population. But a lot of minority households are still poor and many are poorer than these numbers indicate. You may be tired of being reminded by this author that federal poverty lines are absurdly low, but here's a striking example: if you, your partner, and your two children had more than $25,465 in total income in 2018, you had too much income to be included in the poverty population. Pass the yams, please, and no, I am not making this stuff up.**
            More bad news. The wealth gap, which is already large, may be growing. Wealth includes savings, investments, real estate and other assets that people own. If wealth holdings are substantial enough, they bolster people's feelings of economic security. More wealth makes it easier for people to get through hard times and provides resources that parents mobilize--sometimes in criminal ways--to improve opportunities for their children. Higher unemployment means less income and makes it difficult to amass wealth. So does low pay. The Great Recession eroded the assets of many families. In the recovery period, the rich recovered speedily, but many Americans did not. This was especially damaging for minorities whose wealth holdings were often already tiny to nonexistent. People's savings and other assets took a permanent hit from the Great Recession and the inequitable economic recovery. An ACLU study concluded that by 2031 black families will have 40% less wealth than they would have had without the Great Recession and whites 31% less.
Why Do Black Americans Have More Unemployment and Less Income?
            That and the politics of reform are large questions for another time. But one explanation is clear: racist attitudes and policies that are supported and allowed by many white people, quite a few politicians and judges, some economists, too many police officers, and many employers. On hiring practices, for example, researchers have shown that quite a few employers discriminate. Experiments using fictitious responses to real want ads show that white-sounding names receive many more callbacks for interviews than black-sounding names. In really tight labor markets, there is less of this kind of racism as employers get desperate for workers, but very low unemployment, while vital, is not enough to erase discrimination. And low unemployment doesn't last forever. More substantial affirmative actions are indispensable if economic inequalities between whites and blacks are to be eliminated.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
*Rates of participation in the labor force (at work or looking for work) and unemployment vary by age, race and gender. In October of 2019, 83.6% of prime-age (25-54 years old) black males and 78.8% of prime-age black females participated. The black male unemployment rate was 4.7%; the female rate 4.5%. For prime-age whites the participation rates were 90.2% and 77.3% and the unemployment rates were 2.4% for men and 2.7% for women. For this age group, black male unemployment was, in fact, twice the white rate.
** Also, average pay for African Americans has fallen farther behind white pay in the twenty-first century (2000-2017). The median wage gap between whites and blacks went from 21% to 27%.
____________________________________________________________________________
Frank Stricker is emeritus professor of history and interdisciplinary studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is on the board of the National Jobs for All Network. His views here are his own. His book, American Unemployment: Past, Present, and Future, contains a new history of the subject and sharp analyses of key concepts and solutions. It will be published in June 2020.
 


--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/741059792.4618391.1574362175764%40mail.yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

[NJFAC] TIME CORRECTION Fwd: Job Guarantee Now Campaign Webinar Nov. 8 - TIME CORRECTION FOR EST


Please note the EST was not correct on the previous email.  It should be 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST (not 1:00 pm-2:00 pm)   In addition, the CST will be 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
 

Upcoming Webinar: 
A National Call to Action: The Job Guarantee Now! Campaign

Co-hosted by PolicyLink, the National Jobs for All Network, and the Modern Money Network

Friday, November 8, 2019
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. CST/ 
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 pm. EST

--
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org/


--
June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/CAPV%3DhmC%3DkueGhQzWsCCbg_xnYKBSJ%2BTZHeVGG%2BjkahQS5FjmCQ%40mail.gmail.com.

Monday, November 4, 2019

[NJFAC] Webinar - A National Call to Action: The Job Guarantee Now! Campaign



 

Upcoming Webinar: 
A National Call to Action: The Job Guarantee Now! Campaign

Co-hosted by PolicyLink, the National Jobs for All Network, and the Modern Money Network

Friday, November 8, 2019
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PT / 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET

 

Amid rising inequality and an uncertain future when it comes to good jobs, it is time for bold, transformative strategies to achieve economic security and dignity for all — including a Federal Job Guarantee. By ensuring that every person who wants to work can have a living-wage job, a job guarantee would eliminate involuntary unemployment, reduce racial inequities, decrease poverty, and raise the floor on low-wage work while building stronger and greener communities. Polling shows widespread public support for a job guarantee, and with the 2020 election at hand, now is a critical moment for racial and economic justice advocates to come together and make a loud and clear demand by signing the Jobs for All manifesto.

Please join this webinar to: 1) learn why a federal job guarantee is a cornerstone of an inclusive, thriving, and sustainable 21st century economy; 2) ask job guarantee experts your questions; and 3) find out how you can participate in the Job Guarantee Now! campaign.

Speakers include: 
  • Dr. Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Philip Harvey, Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law-Camden 
  • Dr. Pavlina Tcherneva, Associate Professor of Economics at Bard College and Research Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute, NY 
  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder-in-Residence, PolicyLink (Moderator)
 
Register Now

 
 
Copyright © 2019 PolicyLink. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

PolicyLink
1438 Webster St., Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94612
unsubscribe from the PolicyLink list   update subscription preferences 

--
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org/


--
June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

--
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post. To contact the list manager, write to njfac [at] njfac.org
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "goodjobs" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to goodjobsforall+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/goodjobsforall/CAPV%3DhmAmX4fSJywVZWTKSDhUYdQ_b1mNGsBZdNFKQRDZqrtzYg%40mail.gmail.com.