Sunday, August 08, 2010

We wuz robbed!

A study of how corporate America treated its workers during the 2007-2009 recession concludes that the workers could justifiably say “We wuz robbed!”

In the study, published in July, its two authors charge that the latest recession is really a Great Recession for Workers because corporations pocketed unprecedented profits while slashing employment, working hours, and hourly pay.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Sum has published research on labor market trends for at least 20 years.

His latest study, conducted with senior research associate Joseph McLaughlin, is titled “How the U.S. Economic Output Recession of 2007-2009 Led to the Great Recession in Labor Markets.”

“The economic recovery in the U.S. over the past 15 months has seen the most lopsided gains in corporate profits relative to real wages and salaries in our history,” the study says.

Also especially noteworthy: “The greatest deterioration in the U.S. unemployment rate took place among men, largely as a result of the great depression in blue-collar jobs.” The U.S. jobless rate, 10.3 percent in 2009, was the highest of ten leading industrial countries.

Herbert, in his column titled “A Sin and a Shame,” commented:

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Germany and Japan, because of a combination of government and corporate policies, suffered far less worker dislocation than the U.S. Until we begin to value our workers, and understand the crucial importance of employment to a thriving economy, we will continue to see our standards of living decline.”

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