Not good

Harold Meyerson’s article in the March issue of The American Prospect reveals some grim statistics:

  • U.S. corporations are increasingly divorced from both American workers and American consumers. From the second quarter of 2009 to the first of 2010 total corporate profits rose by $388 billion while wages paid in the U.S. were up only $68 billion. During the comparable period in the early-1980s recession and recovery, wages paid went up nearly ten times as much as profits.
  • The number of people who make Apple products in China is ten times as big as Apple’s entirely workforce in the U.S. A nearly identical ratio applies to Dell.
  • U.S. GDP fell 2.4 percent from 2008 to 2009 versus 2.6 percent in France and nearly twice as big a drop in Japan, Germany, and the UK. But while U.S. unemployment jumped around 5 percentage points over that period, in the UK it rose just 2 points, and in France and Japan just one point. In Germany unemployment actually fell.
  • Unlike the U.S., Germany is a net exporter, and not because Germans work cheap. An average industrial worker in Germany makes about $48 an hour including benefits. In the U.S. it’s just $32. One reason: By law, German workers get to appoint members of corporate boards, making it harder for companies to decide to move manufacturing elsewhere or short workers to pay ludicrous compensation to top executives.

More bad news: Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes in his March 7 column:

The fact is that since 1990 or so the U.S. job market has been characterized not by a general rise in the demand for skill, but by “hollowing out”: both high-wage and low-wage employment have grown rapidly, but medium-wage jobs — the kinds of jobs we count on to support a strong middle class — have lagged behind. And the hole in the middle has been getting wider: many of the high-wage occupations that grew rapidly in the 1990s have seen much slower growth recently, even as growth in low-wage employment has accelerated.

Those mid-level jobs are increasingly done by computers or shifted overseas. “And research by my Princeton colleagues Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger suggests that high-wage jobs performed by highly educated workers are, if anything, more ‘offshorable’ than jobs done by low-paid, less-educated workers,” Krugman adds.

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