On Labor Day, Think of Labor

On Labor Day consider what's happening in the "labor market."


An 8/28/06 NY Times headline: "Wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's economy since the U.S. began recording the data in 1947." In the article it continues "... while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960's." ... The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation [even though] ... productivity ­ the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation's living standards ­ has risen steadily over the same period." That's "regress," not progress. 


And then there's the minimum wage, last raised in 1997: Adjusted for inflation it's at its lowest level in 50 years. Conservatives argue against raising it and even want to eliminate it. Their argument: such an artificial increase in wages violates market forces. And a higher price of labor decreases demand and would put many out of work. They say, "That's just simple Economics 101."

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