United states of inequality: fact #17

Posted: 29 April 2011 in Uncategorized
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The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality has collected 20 facts about inequality in the United States that “everyone should know.”

The seventeenth one, illustrated above, refers to deregulation of the market for labor power:

The percentage of all wage and salary workers who are union members has declined from 24% in 1973 to 12.4% in 2008. The decline in the private sector was steeper than the decline in the public sector. At the same time as union membership declined, the real value of the minimum wage also fell by 25% in the 1980s, leading to a weakening influence of the minimum wage on the low-wage labor market. These two developments in combination may be understood as the foundation of the newly “deregulated” U.S. labor market.

The result of both developments (along with the adoption of new labor-saving technologies and the offshoring of many jobs) has been a stagnant real wage for the average worker. That, combined with rising productivity, has meant a rising rate of exploitation and higher profits for corporations.

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