U.S. Workers Earned Less in 2009 Than in 2008

by Tula Connell, Dec 23, 2010 Looks like Santa is bringing a lump of something to working families, and it isn’t a fatter paycheck. New data show America’s workers earned less in 2009 than in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compensation was down by 3.2 percent in 2009 with declines in construction and manufacturing fueling the plunge.  St. Louis County, the hardest hit, saw a decline of 11.5 percent. For those lucky enough to have a job, average pay increased by 1.2 percent. But overall income inequality is now at its worst since 1928. As the chart by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows here, between 1979 and 2005, households at the bottom fifth of the income scale have seen an average, inflation-adjusted income growth of just $200. The $200 figure does not represent an average annual increase in income, but rather an increase of $200 over the entire 26-year period. By contrast, a small number of households at the top 0.1% of the income scale saw average income growth of almost $6 million over that same period. In addition, the “wealth gap,” which differs from the income gap because it measures total net worth, is now 225 times greater between the richest 1 percent and the median family net worth. Lest we forget, corporations are sitting on $1.93 trillion as of Sept. 30—up from $1.8 trillion at the end of June–and not using some of that money pot to create jobs. We already have a Scooge of the Year. But in many ways, the combined firms of Wall Street are Scrooge’s evil little...

Report: Republican Repeal of Health Care Reform ‘Dangerous’

by Mike Hall, Dec 21, 2010 House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) has issued a new report that outlines 24 consequences of repealing health care reform–which Republicans say is among their top agenda items next year. In Dangerous to America’s Health: The Republican Plan to Dismantle America’s Health Care, Stark writes that although the new law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and provides them other protections: Republicans want to repeal these vital consumer protections, and reinstate the power health insurers had to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charge higher premiums and exclude benefits. The health care reform law also provides tax credits and other cost-sharing devices that will make health coverage more affordable for as many as 28.6 million low- and moderate-income workers. But, says Stark: If Republicans repeal health reform, they will eliminate these new tax credits and the cost-sharing assistance, leaving tens of millions of people unable to afford coverage. Despite all their pronouncements about the need to bring the federal deficit under control, if Republicans were successful in repealing health care reform, Stark says it “would cause the deficit to skyrocket.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates the health reform law reduces the deficit by $143 billion in the first 10 years and by more than $1 trillion dollars in the following decade. Stark writes that repeal would also: Raise drug costs for seniors. Increase cost to small business that provide health insurance to workers. Repeal free preventive medical care. Increase the number of uninsured Americans by 29 million. Allow insurance companies to spend less...

American Made No More

Letter to the Editor from the Washington Post From the Washington Post Letters to the Editor, Saturday, December 18, 2010 President Obama met Wednesday (Dec. 15) with a number of business executives seeking ways to improve the economy [Obama, business leaders seek détente,” news story, Dec. 16]. After the meeting, one of the executives told a TV interviewer that businesses have the resources to invest in new plants and equipment and to hire new workers but they are not doing so because there isn’t the demand for their products. Can it be that one reason the demand is lacking is that for years these executives and others like them have been transferring jobs overseas? This morning, I noted that my underwear were made in Vietnam, my shirt in Mongolia, my socks in Swaziland, and my Kindle, my computer and my down jacket in China. I looked in vain to see where my cellphone was made but there was no indication on the gadget. I think I can assume it was not made in the United States. Not so many years ago, all these items would have been made in the United States. Many people would have been employed in their production. If demand is down, perhaps these very executives have helped lower it. Saul Hoch, Silver Spring...

What’s It Really Like to Work at the ‘Happiest Place On Earth’

The Service Trades Council, comprised of unions representing some 27,000 workers at Walt Disney World in Florida, and Disney management are meeting with a mediator today. Ahead of their scheduled meeting, the Service Trades Council aired a documentary about Disney workers, for which a trailer is available on...

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