Wages, profits, and the election

Posted: 7 November 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

fredgraph

The latest—and, in terms of the presidential campaign, last—jobs report was generally greeted with cheers.

Here’s a representative example, from FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman:

It may be too late to affect Tuesday’s election, but the economy is finally delivering real wage growth to American workers.

The average U.S. employee earned $25.92 an hour in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That’s up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the fastest growth since 2009. Non-managers — what the BLS calls “production and non-supervisory employees” — saw their earnings rise a more modest 2.4 percent, but they too are seeing gains that are running well ahead of inflation.

That may be true. But what Casselman and others fail to mention is that, since 2009 (and therefore the beginning of the current “recovery”) the growth in corporate profits has far outpaced the growth in wages. As of the end of the second quarter of 2016, the profits realized by the nation’s corporations had increased by about 60 percent while hourly wages had risen only 15.6 percent.

In other words, even with the recent declines in the rate of unemployment (and the subsequent upward pressure on workers’ wages), the so-called recovery has been much better for corporations and their bottom-line than it has been for workers and their ability to feed their families.

No wonder, then, that there’s a lack of enthusiasm on the part of U.S. workers for either candidate in this year’s presidential election.

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