Good Jobs at Good Wages


We’ve let the “rosy” economic numbers marinate for a few days. Kind of like the old joke the punchline of which is “coffee break’s over, everyone back on your heads!”

Coffee break’s over:

But here’s your trouble:

1. There are still 1.1 million fewer employed Americans today than right before the recession started, despite a potential labor force that’s 14 million larger. And there are 3.6 million fewer full-time workers than back in 2007.

2. The employment rate, the share of Americans with a job, is 58.6% — exactly where it was in November 2009.

3. If the labor force participation rate were where it was a year ago, the jobless rate would be 7.9%, not 7% (and 11.3% if the LFPR were at prerecession levels, though closer to 9% if demographics-adjusted).

4. More than 4 million Americans remain out of work for 27 weeks or longer.

5. Overall, according to the Hamilton Project Jobs Gap calculator, it will take another five years to return to 2007 employment levels even at the improved job creation pace of the past four months.

The Left isn’t very happy, either:

That’s because so many of the new jobs that get created in the U.S. today are lousy and don’t offer a real path into the middle class.

So, for example, retail and restaurant jobs again grew rapidly last month, with some 40,000 new positions created in these sectors. But as we all know — and as Demos has documented — many of these jobs pay barely over poverty wages and don’t come with benefits. Transportation and warehousing were other bright spots in job growth, with 30,000 new jobs in those areas last month. So it’s a shame that warehouse work is so poorly paid these days, with Amazon and other big shippers creating a new kind of sweatshop.

If you want to get a clear look at the jobs America’s economy produces, one of the best places to go is the Social Security Administration, which tracks earnings by all workers. Their most recent data shows that 53 percent of Americans workers earn less than $30,000 a year. Forty percent of American workers earn less than $20,000 a year.

Let me stop and repeat that statistic: 40 percent of all U.S. workers earn less than $20k a year.

One solution to this situation is to create an economy and education system that generates more good jobs for a work force with better skills. Another solution is to raise wages for low-skilled jobs, which is what the recent wave of labor strikes has been all about.

The U.S. has to pursue both solutions, and others, if we want to create a decent society.

Five years into ObamAmerica, and they’re still bitching about what a terrible people we are. They may be right, but for the wrong reasons. What they seem to hate is a result of Obama, not in spite of Obama. (Fox Butterfield, is that you?)

Rather than blame Amazon for providing the only jobs going, why not be grateful? Exactly how much should “warehouse work” pay? Amazon can run a website, sell a product (thousands of them), deliver them as promised—soon, by drone, within hours. Can government do anything like that? Amazon’s Jeff Bezos even saved the beloved organ of the Washington establishment, the Washington Post. Explain to me how he’s the villain?

“One solution to this situation is to create an economy and education system that generates more good jobs for a work force with better skills.”

D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that?

If by those ingenious suggestions they mean letting the private sector find its way toward profit, and letting families choose the best schools for their kids, I’m on board. But the left doesn’t trust the private, the individual. It’s all about the collective to them. Which is why we are where we are.

Fox Butterfield, is that you?

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