Posts Tagged ‘disability’

wage share-growth

We’ve been hearing this since the recovery from the Second Great Depression began: it’s going to be a Golden Age for workers!

The idea is that the decades of wage stagnation are finally over, as the United States enters a new period of labor shortage and workers will be able to recoup what they’ve lost.

The latest to try to tell this story is Eduardo Porter:

the wage picture is looking decidedly brighter. In 2008, in the midst of the recession, the average hourly pay of production and nonsupervisory workers tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — those who toil at a cash register or on a shop floor — was 10 percent below its 1973 peak after accounting for inflation. Since then, wages have regained virtually all of that ground. Median wages for all full-time workers are rising at a pace last achieved in the dot-com boom at the end of the Clinton administration.

And with employers adding more than two million jobs a year, some economists suspect that American workers — after being pummeled by a furious mix of globalization and automation, strangled by monetary policy that has restrained economic activity in the name of low inflation, and slapped around by government hostility toward unions and labor regulations — may finally be in for a break.

The problem is that wages are still growing at a historically slow pace (the green line in the chart above), which means the wage share (the blue line in the chart) is still very low. The only sign that things might be getting better for workers is that the current wage share is slightly above the low recorded in 2013—but, at 43 percent, it remains far below its high of 51.5 percent in 1970.

That’s an awful lot of ground to make up.

productivity-wage share

The situation for American workers is even worse when we compare labor productivity and the wage share. Since 1970, labor productivity (the real output per hour workers in the nonfarm business sector, the red line in the chart above) has more than doubled, while the wage share (the blue line) has fallen precipitously.

We’re a long way from any kind of Golden Age for workers.

But, in the end, that’s not what Porter is particularly interested in. He’s more concerned about what he considers to be a labor shortage caused by a shrinking labor force.

So, what does Porter recommend to, in his words, “protect economic growth and to give American workers a shot at a new golden age of employment”? More immigration, more international trade, cuts in disability insurance, and limiting increases in the minimum wage.

Someone’s going to have to explain to me how that set of policies is going to reverse the declines of recent decades and usher in a Golden Age for American workers.

pm-gr-disabilityvswelfare-616

As Chana Joffe-Walt explains,

Part of Clinton’s welfare reform plan pushed states to get people on welfare into jobs, partly by making states pay a much larger share of welfare costs. The incentive seemed to work; the welfare rolls shrank. But not everyone who left welfare went to work.

A person on welfare costs a state money. That same resident on disability doesn’t cost the state a cent, because the federal government covers the entire bill for people on disability. So states can save money by shifting people from welfare to disability.

pm-gr-disability_applications_ue-616

According to Chana Joffe-Walt,

There used to be a lot of jobs that you could do with just a high school degree, and that paid enough to be considered middle class. I knew, of course, that those have been disappearing for decades. What surprised me was what has been happening to many of the people who lost those jobs: They’ve been going on disability.

Israel's Vision for a Palestinian State

Special mention

123572_600 mattwuerker

Optimism of the will

Posted: 24 October 2009 in Uncategorized
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disability

Tom Shakespeare (Research Fellow at Newcastle University and author of Genetics Politics: from Eugenics to Genome and The Sexual Politics of Disability) recently traveled [ht: ms] to visit the childhood home of one of his disability heroes, the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci:

My friend and I drove through the stunning rocky landscape of Sardinia to Ghilarza, the small country town where Gramsci spent his childhood. In the Casa Gramsci, there were photographs, letters, even the stone dumbbells which he made to build up his strength, and finally his death mask.

To see it all, I had to climb out of my wheelchair and crawl up the stairs, but that seemed the least I could do in honour of a man who had suffered so much. A hero to the Left, Gramsci has rarely been celebrated as a disabled role model, or a hero to the disability community. I found it very moving to see the relics of his life, just as I have always been inspired by the motto he chose: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”.