We’re now six and a half years into the official recovery from the Great Recession and, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the headline unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent.
However, just to keep things in perspective, the number of long-term unemployed (workers who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.1 million in October and has shown little change since June. These individuals accounted for 26.8 percent of the unemployed in October.
And, as we can see from the chart above, workers’ wages, while increasing, have still recovered much more slowly than during the previous three business cycles.
As I wrote yesterday,
it is clear both that the initial downturn was much more protracted than mainstream economists (including central bankers, like Ben Bernanke) had the courage to admit and that the persistent negative effects of that crisis continue to depress actual rates of growth below the earlier trend.
f there’s one area that isn’t contributing to higher college costs and historic levels of student debt, it’s faculty salaries—especially the pay received by adjunct professors.
According to Caroline Fredrickson,
In 1969, almost 80 percent of college faculty members were tenure or tenure track. Today, the numbers have essentially flipped, with two-thirds of faculty now non-tenure and half of those working only part-time, often with several different teaching jobs. . .
To say that these are low-wage jobs is an understatement. Based on data from the American Community Survey, 31 percent of part-time faculty are living near or below the federal poverty line. And, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, one in four families of part-time faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program like food stamps and Medicaid or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Known as the “Homeless Prof,” Mary-Faith Cerasoli teaches romance languages and prepares her courses in friends’ apartments when she can crash on a couch, or in her car when the friends can’t take her in. When a student asked to meet with her during office hours, she responded, “Sure, it’s the Pontiac Vibe parked on Stewart Avenue.”
According to the latest data from the Social Security Administration [ht: db], the raw average wage in the United States (computed as net compensation divided by the number of wage earners) was $44,569.20 in 2014. Based on data in the table above, about 67.2 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the raw average wage.
By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to have been only $28,851.21 for 2014.
About 1 in 7 American workers earned less than $5000 in 2014.