Reserve army of the underemployed

Posted: 8 September 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

The current U.S. “recovery” is a disaster for workers. And a boon to capitalists.

15 million are officially unemployed in the United States. An additional 1.1 million workers are “discouraged” and have given up looking for a job. On top of that, 9 million want full-time jobs but can’t find them. And there’s another group of underemployed workers who are not tracked by the government but may be just as large: workers shunted into full-time jobs that pay far less than their old jobs.

That means the capitalist reserve army consists of two broad groups: the unemployed (workers who don’t have a job and either still looking for a job or who have given up looking for a job) and the underemployed (workers who are working at part-time jobs involuntarily or who have full-time jobs for which they received a wage or salary much lower than at their old jobs).

According to the Los Angeles Times, there are real people behind the numbers. Involuntary part-time workers include

David Linehan of Quincy, Mass., who lost his job as an analyst for an energy-trading firm during the recession, along with his $30,000 salary and benefits.

The 43-year-old now tries to get by on less than one-third that amount as a driver for a rental car company. His new employer limits his work to less than 30 hours a week because any more would make him eligible for company-provided health insurance.

“I’m so sick of news about the recovery,” said Linehan, who has some college and technical-school training.

Workers who have been shunted into lower paying jobs include

John Moser, who lives near Allentown, Pa.

In June last year, he lost his $50,000-a-year job when his employer, a private high school, erased his development and marketing position. At 59, Moser learned quickly that it wasn’t easy for someone his age and with his experience and education — a master’s degree in public relations from Boston University — to find something comparable.

So last September he took a job selling club memberships for a retail warehouse chain. He said he earns $19,000 to $25,000 — less than he made some 30 years ago when he worked for a San Diego advertising firm.

The reserve armies of the unemployed and underemployed are undermining the standing of all workers: those who don’t have any kind of paying job, those who have jobs that force them to work fewer hours and to receive lower pay than they need, and all other workers who have full-time jobs but are being pressured by employers to work harder and at lower pay than they otherwise might. No one is immune: young and old; white, black, and Hispanic; men and women.

The only people who benefit from the reserve armies are those who appropriate profits or receive a cut of the profits. In other words, those who were already making out like bandits before the onset of the crises. Everybody else is hurting, and hurting badly.

Comments
  1. […] with current high levels of poverty and unemployment, the class casualty gap is much too easily […]

  2. […] UAW giveback is one of the effects of the reserve armies of the unemployed and underemployed in the current post-recovery […]

  3. […] I have also referred to the reserve army of the potentially employable, the reserve army of the underemployed, and the reserve army of the long-term unemployed. Share […]

  4. […] wages, either to keep their existing workers or to hire new ones. There are so many members of the Reserve Army of Unemployed and Underemployed workers willing to take whatever jobs are available that employers simply don’t need to […]

  5. […] wages, either to keep their existing workers or to hire new ones. There are so many members of the Reserve Army of Unemployed and Underemployed workers willing to take whatever jobs are available that employers simply don’t need to increase […]

  6. […] wages, either to keep their existing workers or to hire new ones. There are so many members of the Reserve Army of Unemployed and Underemployed workers willing to take whatever jobs are available that employers simply don’t need to increase […]

  7. […] wages, either to keep their existing workers or to hire new ones. There are so many members of the Reserve Army of Unemployed and Underemployed workers willing to take whatever jobs are available that employers simply don’t need to increase […]

  8. […] called the “industrial reserve army.” I have referred to it since 2010 as the “reserve army of the underemployed.” David G. Blanchflower and Andrew T. Levin now point to the same phenomenon in terms of […]

  9. […] my part, I have variously used the terms “reserve army of the unemployed,” “reserve army of the unemployed and underemployed,” and “reserve army […]

  10. […] my part, I have variously used the terms “reserve army of the unemployed,” “reserve army of the unemployed and underemployed,” and “reserve army unemployed, […]

  11. […] my part, I have variously used the terms “reserve army of the unemployed,” “reserve army of the unemployed and underemployed,” and “reserve army unemployed, […]

  12. […] my part, I have variously used the terms “reserve army of the unemployed,” “reserve army of the unemployed and underemployed,” and “reserve army unemployed, […]

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