Employment is Up, But Jobs Don’t Meet Basic Needs

April 1, 2011

Today in the Economy section of the New York Times were two articles that highlight the paradox the U.S. economy continues to face.

The first is titled, Job Growth Suggests Resilience of U.S. Recovery. The Department of Labor reported that in March the work force gained 190,000 jobs. Many economists, while still wary that the economy will not continue to improve, still said this points out the resilience in the U.S. Dirty Rotten Junkie" href="/2011/05/05/guest_post_from_the_dirty_rotten_junkie/index.html">recovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy grew in 13 of the 16 sectors it tracks.

The second article, Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs, shows that many of the jobs being added are in retail, hospitality and home health care, jobs that are unlikely to cover basic expenses like housing, food, health care, and child care.

If more jobs are available, why are families continuing to find it difficult to survive? The answer lies in the dogma of the conservatives who believe in starving the middle class. Events over the past few weeks have given proof that the mantra of the 80′s, trickle down economy, is still true today. The Republicans have taken aim at the unions by legislating the end of collective bargaining. The rich do not care for unions because they cut into their profits and benefit the working person. So starving the unions can only be interpreted as a continued effort to legislate them out of business at the expense of the middle class and the poor.

The Republicans have mastered calling policy what it is not. Trickle down sounds offensive to working people, so the conservatives call it supply side economics. Supply side economics = trickle down economics. The problem is the rich do not let enough trickle down to the middle class thus the growing disparity between the haves and have not’s. Democrat William Jennings Bryan said this,

“There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests up on them.”

The Republicans seem to believe Gordon Gekko’s mantra, greed is good. The problem is nobody from the right explains good for who. Certainly not the masses belonging to the middle class.

The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. Does that sound like the rich are letting money trickle down, or are they just keeping it for themselves?

Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs
Job Growth Suggests Resilience of U.S. Recovery
Income Gaps Between Very Rich and Everyone Else More Than Tripled In Last Three Decades, New Data Show
Trickle-down economics

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6 Responses to Employment is Up, But Jobs Don’t Meet Basic Needs

  1. 1
    Michael PakonenNo Gravatar says:

    You ask: “If more jobs are available, why are families continuing to find it difficult to survive?”
    I say: Because in actuality ‘good’ jobs are few and far between now days, because the cost of living and running a business in this country is at an all time high, its nothing new. Lets face it, this problem was here long before the Republicans took aim at the unions by legislating the end of collective bargaining, or for any other reason for that matter. Its a ‘sign’ of the times. Its the promise of just about every politician running for office… more jobs, lowered cost of living, better health care, ‘chicken in every pot’, yada yada yada. The truth is, this whole system is corrupt from the top down and none of our wealthy politicians are ever going to relinquish what they have for the good of the many, middle class or not. Its just never going to happen, never. Or sure there are still a few ‘good men’ in office, but for the most part, they all have their own agendas and interests at stake. The ‘greed is good’ philosophy is alive and well and will continue until the end,or the beginning which ever you prefer.

    • I’m not sure whether you agree with the tenor of the post or not. You seem to be agreeing when you say the system is corrupt. I agree. You seem to be agreeing when you say it’s been going on for a long time. I agree, it just came back in the eighties due to Reagonomics. Trickle down = supply side = Reagonomics. I also agree that the “greed is good” philosophy is is alive and well. But that does not mean it is right or the best way to run an economy. It is also decidedly not the belief of the Democrats who champion raising the standard of living for the middle class and poor. Remember FDR and the new deal. Remember Kennedy and the civil rights movement. Remember the only recent president to have a surplus at the end of his term was Clinton.

      Moreover, your contention that running a business is more expensive now that in the past is ludicrous. Here’s a quote from a New York Times article regarding last years 3rd quarter.

      The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever. American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago…


      Give me a break. It’s not business that is hurting, it is the American family. Which proves that for the masses in this country “greed sucks.”

  2. 2
    Michael PakonenNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t believe the propganga published by the New York Times or any other news journal accurately reflects the true state of affairs in this country’s job market. Business owners are just as infected with the ‘greed is good’ mentality as the corrupt politicians that serve them. Its like a disease that they don’t know they have. “American companies just had their best quarter ever” last year? Whatever. And if thats true, when will American businesses realize that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you by gouging your employees and start to give back a little bit of that profit to deserving employees in the form of better paying jobs? I’ll tell you why…because THEY CAN, and get away with it! Many of the so-called jobs that are available as this country rebounds from recession are in the subsistance level income bracket, i.e. fast foods, kitchen workers, janitors, farming, and all those other laborious jobs that nobody wants or is willing to do except illegal immigrants, who don’t complain about the pay because they don’t want to be deported and are just glad to have a job. And whose to blame for allowing American business owners to hire ‘illegals’ in the first place? Lets face it, its a ‘cash cow’ for the American economy to allow this kind of under-the-table thing to continue, because it looks profitable. What do you think would happen to the profits and economy if these people were deported? Would Americans jump in and work for below minimum wage paying jobs? Forget about it. The ‘greed is good’ bleeding heart liberals would scramble. And I seriously doubt we would see profitable returns in those industries any longer. I’m all for letting the ‘illegals’ work in our restaurants and do the jobs that candy-ass spoiled Americans won’t do, because it keeps the prices down. Somehow I believe that our country was founded on the premise that free enterprise is the best way, even if that means letting the ‘illegals’ do our dirty work.

    • Michael, I must admit I have trouble understanding your comments.

      You say you don’t believe the propaganda coming from the NYT’s. Fine. But all they are doing in their article is rehashing a report from the Department of Labor. It’s not their numbers.

      Then you appear to be making my original point for me. That if businesses are doing so well they should give back to the employees. I agree. However, it will be harder for workers to receive deserved benefits if they cannot collectively bargain and It will also continue to increase the ever widening income gap if employers do not share in the riches of a company.

      Finally, you launch into a diatribe regarding illegal aliens that had nothing to do with the post. But I’ll play along.

      I don’t blame illegal aliens for trying to have a better life. So again we agree. But I believe they should have a path to citizenship and eventually become legal.

      You say,

      Would Americans jump in and work for below minimum wage paying jobs? Forget about it. The ‘greed is good’ bleeding heart liberals would scramble.

      Yes. Because once the illegals left their would be a demand for these jobs and pay would rise making it more likely these spots would be held by American’s.

      I have no idea what you mean by ‘greed is good’ bleeding heart liberals. Huh? ‘greed is good’ is usually favored by conservative Republican’s and not liberals. As a liberal myself, I don’t believe I’ve ever met one who thought greed is good!

  3. 3

    Maybe if we focused on taking care of some of this outsourcing and the tax loopholes by using offshore accounts instead of taking the typical liberal way of the thief (aka extreme distribution of wealth) we could save some more of the higher end, livable jobs. But the democrats aren’t actually concerned with the quality of the jobs saved, just the ability to put a bigger number in their propaganda. The lack of care on the part of the left is obvious by the insistence that we not take the time to responsibly evaluate the health care reform bill that costs trillions before passing it. rush it through! Here’s another idea, if the left is trying so hard to protect the common man, and insist that the rich pay their fair share, how about the commander in chief stop rewarding tax cheats by giving them high ranking government positions? (i know that was only a campaign promise and we’re never supposed to actually believe a campaign promise… it is a liberal after all) way to send a message obammy, way to send a message.

    • Answer me this. If the cost of running a business is at an all-time high, why are companies reporting record profits?

      The liberals would love to close the loopholes that allow companies to hide their offshore profits. But the Republicans’ won’t let ‘em. That’s their meal ticket. The GOP is bought and paid for by big business. The fact that these loopholes are still available proves my point. They only benefit the already rich. Bob and Martha from River Falls aren’t hiding their profits offshore. Their hiding them on the dinner table.

      Moreover, the liberals don’t want a total distribution of wealth. They just was a distribution that’s fair. This from the OECD.

      Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928…

      As far as the president hiring a tax cheat, I don’t think finding one tax cheat is going to solve the problem. Think bigger. (give me specifics, not sure what you’re talking about).

      As far as health care, Consumer Reports writes that it has helped numerous groups. The ones who haven’t been helped are those whose benefits will not start until 2014. They were pushed back at the insistence of the Republicans’. In addition, the CBO reported that Obama’s health care reform is revenue neutral. Meaning the savings from health care will offset the spending allocated to provide it.

      Let’s see. He stopped us from having a depression, he is the first president to pass meaningful health care legislation that appears to be working, he got rid of don’t ask don’t tell, and he did exactly what he said he would do in Libya. Not all is rosy, there’s still that hiring a tax cheat thing and Guantanamo. But all in all he’s done well.

      What I have a problem understanding is why are some people so f!@#ing pissed at Obama. Have we forgotten what its like to have a grownup at the table.

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