Article 43


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

NWO - Workers Fight Back

image: solidarity

What Quitters Understand About the Job Market
More Americans are telling their boss to shove it. Is the workplace undergoing a revolution- or just a post-pandemic spasm?

By Derek Thompson
The Atlantic
June 21, 2021

Quitting your job is hot this summer. More Americans quit in May than any other month on record going back to the beginning of the century, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For every 100 workers in hotels, restaurants, bars, and retailers, about five of them quit last month.

Low-wage workers arent the only ones eyeing the door. In May, more than 700,000 workers in the bureau’s mostly white-collar category of PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES left their job - the highest monthly number ever. Across all sectors and occupations, FOUR IN 10 EMPLOYEES now say they’ve considered peacing out of their current place of work.

Why the sudden burst of quitting? One general theory is that were living through a fundamental shift in the relationship between employees and bosses that could have profound implications for the future of work. Up and down the income ladder, workers have new reasons to tell their boss to shove it. Lower-wage workers who benefited from enhanced unemployment benefits throughout the pandemic may have returned to the job and realized they’re not being paid enough. Now they’re putting their foot down, forcing restaurants and clothing stores to fork over a higher wage to keep people on staff.

Meanwhile, white-collar workers say they feel overworked or GENERALLY BURNED OUT after a grueling pandemic year, and they’re marching to the corner office with new demands. A recent BloombergMorning Consult survey FOUND that nearly half of workers under 40 said they might leave their job unless their employer let them continue to work from home at least part of the time. With white-collar quits at an all-time high, it seems many of them aren’t bluffing. Higher-income workers- whose corneas are seared from several million Zoom calls, and whose lower backs have been brutalized by months of using the couch as an office chairare flush with savings stored up during a year of existential tragedy; quitting is their way of commemorating the fragility of existence in face of cosmic dread. In short: YOLO.

Quitting gets a bad rap in life, as itגs associated with pessimism, laziness, and lack of confidence. In labor economics, however, quits signify the opposite: an optimism among workers about the future; an eagerness to do something new; and a confidence that if they jump ship, they wont drown but rather just land on a better, richer boat.

The summer of quitting could augur something bigger: a new golden age, not only of worker power, but also of tech adoption and productivity growth. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant (an industry where wages are rising fast). If your experience was anything like mine, you scanned a QR code to order rather than chatting with a server. The restaurant served you a typical meal, despite having a smaller staff than usual. Multiply that across the economy, and you have better-paid employees working in concert with software to more efficiently serve customers. This upbeat story may really be coming true: Labor productivity is currently rising at its FASTEST RATE IN MORE THAN 20 YEARS - and still accelerating.

As the economics writer Noah Smith EXPLAINS, many of us think of robots and workers as archnemeses. But worker power and tech-powered productivity growth might go hand in hand. In a virtuous cycle, higher wages could prompt employers to automate more expensive tasks. Worker power drives productivity growth, making the overall economy richer, so people spend more money, which creates work for other people, which keeps jobs plentiful. In this rosy vision, we are in the early stages of something quite wonderful: an era of rising wages, ascendant productivity, and rising living standards for all.

If this sequence represents a genuine and lasting revolution in workers rights, it wouldn’t be the first time that a catastrophe became the midwife to progress. As I wrote last year, a major crisis has a way of exposing what is broken and giving a new generation of leaders a chance to build something better” - often in surprising ways. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 contributed to the invention of the modern skyscraper; the East Coast blizzard of 1888 led to the first American subway system. The COVID-19 pandemic killed 600,000 people and led to a paradigm shift in workers power might not sound like a particularly obvious cause-and-effect. But our responses to disasters can change the world in ways that are hard to foresee when we stare into the maw of the original crisis.

On the other hand, maybe this isn’t a revolution. Maybe its an illusion.

The overall annual quits total plunged in 2020 by about 500,000, suggesting that a lot of people who would have quit without the pandemic instead clung to a job they didn’t like. That the number of people quitting a job is surging now isn’t necessarily proof of a paradigm shift. Its more like evidence of an unpinched-hose effect: The pandemic constrained all sorts of normal activities - getting a cocktail, renting a car, leaving a crappy job - that are suddenly unblocked.

The White House seems to see this dynamic clearly. A blog post from the Council of Economic Advisers RECENTLY CAUTIONED that economic data may look berserk this summer. A number of commentators are warning against drawing big conclusions about the future. “A whole lot of this is a mirage,” Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at Upwork, told me. “The White House, I think, is a lot more realistic than the median liberal pundit right now.”

Making predictions is hard, not only because the future is hard to see, but also because the present is hard to grasp. The data on quitting could be an early sign that worker power is ascendant after decades of stagnant pay and gutted labor law. But it could also be a brief statistical fluke amid this summers generally spasmodic economy.

How do we reconcile these two things - the awesome potential of the moment and the fact that its awesomeness might be predicated on a mirage? Maybe the answer is: Just keep doing what you’re doing. Policy makers should act as if the labor market has room to run, because it does. And employers, while seeking out complementary technology, should pay their workforce more, because they can.

About the author:

Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, technology, and the media. He is the author of HIT MAKERS and the host of the podcast CRAZY/GENIUS.


Burrito Economics

Declining Unemployment in a Depression


Minimum wage in America: How many people are earning $7.25 an hour?
President Biden proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as a part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

USA Facts
September 18, 2019

Americans have debated where to set the federal minimum wage for decades. President Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus plan aims to increase the federal minimum to $15 an hour, more than doubling the current wage of $7.25. Currently, wages vary by state, with some cities mandating more than double the federal minimum and other states with requirements below $7.25. Employees covered by both state and federal minimum wage laws are entitled to the higher of the two minimums.

How many people earn the federal minimum wage?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 1.6 million workers, or 1.9% of all hourly paid, non-self-employed workers, earned wages at or below the federal minimum wage in 2019. That year, 82.3 million people were paid hourly rates, making up 58.1% of all wage and salary workers in the United States.

Fewer Americans today make the federal minimum wage or less.

In 1980, when the federal minimum wage was $3.10 ($9.86 in 2019 dollars), 13% of hourly workers earned the federal minimum wage or less. Today, only 1.9% of hourly workers do. The number of federal minimum wage workers has decreased from 7.7 million in 1980 to 1.6 million in 2019. This is partly due to states establishing higher minimum wages than the federal level.

What is the federal minimum wage? When does it apply?

The federal minimum wage was established as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. Since then, congressional amendments have periodically increased it - most recently in July 2009, when Congress set the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. But the minimum only applies in the absence of stricter state mandates. At present, 29 states and Washington, DC have minimum wages above $7.25, which take precedence over the federal requirement.

Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage was at its highest in 1979, when it was $2.90 an hour at the time, but equivalent to $10.47 in 2019 dollars. If a worker earning the federal minimum wage in 2019 worked 40 hours per week, every week of the year, they would earn just over $15,000 annually. That’s less than half of the US median annual wage of about $39,810, but more than the individual federal poverty threshold of about $13,011. Meanwhile, a worker earning the 1979 federal minimum wage, with the same hours, would make just under $21,800 in 2019 dollars.

Federal minimum wage law doesn’t cover all workers.

Not everyone is required to receive the federal minimum wage, which partly explains why the BLS measures workers at or below minimum wage. Various exclusions and exemptions can mean some workers may earn less than $7.25 per hour. For example, the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour so long as that amount plus tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage. Workers 20 years old or younger may earn $4.25 an hour for their first 90 consecutive days of employment. Plus, federal minimum wage law only applies to employees of enterprises with an annual gross volume of sales of at least $500,000 or certain types of smaller firms.

How does the minimum wage vary across states?

As of January 1, 2021, there were five states without minimum wage laws, two states with minimum wages below the federal minimum, 14 states with minimum wages at the federal level, and 29 states, plus Washington, DC, with minimum wages above the federal level, according to the Department of Labor. This is a significant change from 1980, when only two states, plus Washington, DC, had minimum wages above the federal level.

State minimum wages in 2021 range from $5.15 per hour in Georgia and Wyoming to $15 per hour in Washington, DC.

Some states have larger proportions of minimum wage workers than others.

Some states have more minimum wage earners than others. For example, in South Carolina, 5.4% of hourly workers, or 64,000 people, earn the federal minimum wage or less. In California, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, and Washington state, less than 1% of hourly workers earn the federal minimum wage or less.

Where is the minimum wage $15 an hour?

In addition to Washington, DC which introduced a $15 minimum wage in 2020 ח nine states have passed laws or referenda to set a $15 minimum wage.

Some cities also have minimum wages of $15 or more already in place. In 2014, Seattle was the first city to institute a $15 minimum wage, which fully went into effect this year. In San Francisco, a $15 minimum wage went into effect in 2018. In July 2019, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releasing a report the same month analyzing the potential impact. The CBO report estimates that changing the federal minimum wage to $15 would increase the wages of 17 million workers in 2025. However, the CBO estimates that 1.3 million individuals would become jobless (CBO estimates that this number could be anywhere between zero and 3.7 million). The report explains that this predicted decrease in employment is based in employers decreasing their workforce to compensate for increased wages.

Who earns the federal minimum wage?

Demographics of minimum wage workers

Young workers are more likely to earn the minimum wage compared to older workers. While 4.3% of hourly workers between 16 and 24 years old earn $7.25 per hour or less, 1.4% for hourly workers over the age of 25 are.

Younger workers are more likely to earn minimum wage or less.

Women hourly workers are also more likely to earn the minimum wage or less 2.6% of female hourly workers make the minimum wage or below, compared to 1.3% of male hourly workers.

About 2.4% of Black hourly workers earn the federal minimum wage or less, compared to about 2% among white, Asian, and Hispanic hourly workers.

Among hourly workers without a high school degree, 3.1% earn the minimum wage or less. Thatגs compared to 2% of high school graduates and 1.2% of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

People who have lower educational attainment are more likely to earn minimum wage or less.


Twelve percent of hourly food service workers make the minimum wage or less, the highest rate of any occupation type. Food service workers are also more likely to be paid an hourly rate compared to workers in other occupations, with more than half of food service employees (servers, cooks, cashiers, etc.) receiving hourly wages. After food service workers, personal care occupations, including manicurists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists, have the second highest rate of hourly workers at or below minimum wage, at 3.2%.

Nearly one in eight people paid hourly in food services earn minimum wage or less.

Weekly Hours

Part-time workers, or those who work between zero and 34 hours per week, are more likely to be minimum wage earners than those who work full-time. Roughly 4.3% of part-time hourly workers earn the minimum wage or less, compared to 1.1% of full-time hourly workers.

The minimum wage and the living wage are not the same thing.

The minimum wage is established by Congress and enforced by the Department of Labor. The living wage is a subjective concept calculated by policymakers and advocacy groups that works backward to calculate a wage to cover the basic needs and expenses of individuals in particular areas. In cases where the minimum wage is less than the estimated living wage, the suggestion is that earnings from a full-time minimum-wage job are not enough to support someone without additional income or aid.

For more information on jobs and income, check out USAFacts’ EMPLOYMENT DASHBOARD for detailed data on monthly employment numbers and our COVID-19 IMPACT AND RECOVERY HUB for real-time data on the nation’s economic recovery.



The Weird Phenomena of “Labor Shortages” While 7.1 Million Fewer People Are Working

By Wolf Richter
Wolff Street
July 2, 2021

Amid reports of hiring bonuses even for jobs at the lower end of the wage scale, and amid reports of companies raising wages to attract workers, and amid widespread complaints about “labor shortages” and difficulties in hiring people, and amid reports of supply chain issues because essential jobs cannot be filled, and amid a historic spike in job openings, there’s the Department of Labor’s tidbit that 14.7 million people are still claiming state or federal unemployment benefits, including 11 million people on federal PUA or PEUC benefits - however marred by an epidemic of fraudulent claims and bad accounting this figure may be.

These benefits were topped off by the extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, which are now being phased out in 26 states, but they were still mostly in effect when the data for today’s jobs report were collected in mid-June.

That’s the weird convoluted backdrop for today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The #1 weird phenomenon as result of all this: The labor force

The labor force consists of people who were working during the survey period or who were actively looking for a job in the prior four weeks. Someone who eventually might want to work but wasn’t actively looking for a job during those four weeks isn’t considered to be in the labor force.

So in June, the labor force grew by 151,000 people, after having fallen in May, and was still down by 3.5 million people from December 2019, with little improvement since last August.

image: bls chart

In June, 6.4 million people wanted a job in general terms but didn’t actively look for a job over the past four weeks, or who were unavailable to take a job, according to the BLS. They were therefore not included in the labor force. This was up by 1.4 million from February 2020. They’re on the sidelines of the labor market.

There are numerous reasons why people aren’t going back to work, and are not looking for work, and are therefore not in the labor force. This includes having to take care of kids in areas where schools and daycare centers are not fully open; and it includes what is now called the “retirement boom,” where people have decided it wasn’t worth it anymore, and went for quality of life.

#2 weird phenomenon: Upward pressure on wages during an unemployment crisis.

It’s is rare that there’s upward pressures on wages during an unemployment crisis. But thats what we’ve got.

The wage pressures employers have been jabbering about, and the wage increases they have been implementing, are starting to show up in the numbers despite the fact that a lot of hiring took place at the low end of the wage scale in the hospitality industry, which pulls down the overall average.

The average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents per hour in June, from May, to $30.40, after having risen 13 cents in May and 20 cents in April, for a 43 cent per hour increase in three months, or 5.7% annualized.

In the chart below, note the spike in May 2020. There was no spike in pay. It was a result of many lower-paid workers getting laid off, especially in the hospitality business, while many higher-paid workers kept their jobs and switched to working from home. This caused the average to spike.

Now the opposite is taking place, with lower-paid employees being pulled back into jobs in large numbers, and this should push down average hourly wages. The fact that the average is rising despite the influx of lower-paid workers shows just how much pressure there is on wages.

image: bls chart

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry - food services and drinking places, hotels, casinos, etc. - jumped by 343,000 jobs in June, after having jumped by 306,000 jobs in May, as restaurants, hotels, and casinos are desperately trying to hire workers. Total employment in the sector was sill down by about 2.18 million people, compared to the peak in February 2020, but its still a huge improvement of where it was a year ago.

image: bls chart

Amid reports of hiring bonuses even for jobs at the lower end of the wage scale, and amid reports of companies raising wages to attract workers, and amid widespread complaints about “labor shortages” and difficulties in hiring people, and amid reports of supply chain issues because essential jobs cannot be filled, and amid a historic spike in job openings, there’s the Department of Labor’s tidbit that 14.7 million people are still claiming state or federal unemployment benefits, including 11 million people on federal PUA or PEUC benefits however marred by an epidemic of fraudulent claims and bad accounting this figure may be.

These benefits were topped off by the extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, which are now being phased out in 26 states, but they were still mostly in effect when the data for today’s jobs report were collected in mid-June.

That’s the weird convoluted backdrop for today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

image: bls chart

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry - food services and drinking places, hotels, casinos, etc. ֖ jumped by 343,000 jobs in June, after having jumped by 306,000 jobs in May, as restaurants, hotels, and casinos are desperately trying to hire workers. Total employment in the sector was sill down by about 2.18 million people, compared to the peak in February 2020, but its still a huge improvement of where it was a year ago.

image: bls chart

Employment in manufacturing rose by only 15,000 jobs following the increase of 39,000 jobs in May, amid widespread complaints by manufactures that they’re having trouble filling orders because they’re having trouble “finding suitable candidates for current vacancies,” according to the IHS Markit Manufacturing PMI, and that growth was weighed down not only by tangled-up supply chains but also by “labor shortages.”

In June, the number of workers in manufacturing was still down 481,000 or down 3.9% from February 2020:

image: bls chart

But manufacturing production in May fully recovered compared to February 2020. During every downturn, manufacturers cut costs by investing in automation and by offshoring production. While employment in the sector peaked in the 1970s and has since fallen by about one third, production, boosted by automation, continued to rise until the end of 2007. During the Great Recession, manufacturers massively offshored production. Adjusted for inflation, production never recovered to the 2007 peak. Then in March 2020, it fell off a cliff.

But by May 2021, manufacturing production was back to February 2020 levels - despite 3.9% fewer jobs in the sector:

image: bls chart

Gig workers giving up gigs to become employees?

Employers - companies, governments, and nonprofits ֖ reported that they added 850,000 workers to their payrolls in June, according to the BLS today. This is a big gain in employment. The total number of jobs at these establishments rose to 145.8 million, but that was still down by 6.76 million from February 2020 (green line in the chart below).

Households, however, reported that the total number of people working, including gig work, fell by 18,000 in June to 151.6 million, still down by 7.1 million from February 2020 (red line). And this includes self-employed workers.

Even as employment has increased sharply, according to surveys of establishments, households have been reporting slower improvements since the end of 2020. And the gap between the two has fallen by 2 million workers in six months. This suggests that over the past six months, employers have hired many people that were self-employed.

image: bls chart

#3 weird phenomenon: “labor shortages” with so many people not working.

There are plenty of potential workers in the US to fill all those jobs, and there is no shortage of people. There may be a shortage of certain skill sets and that is always the case, and that’s where training, education, and on-the-job learning come in.

But more significantly, there appears to be a shortage of people willing to work under current wage levels, benefits, and working conditions. This is like a quiet strike.

And this time, over 14.7 million people are still claiming unemployment compensation, including the extra $300 a week from the federal government. In many cases, recipients make more by not working. OK, this 14.7-million figure is marred by an epidemic of fraudulent claims and dubious data. But even with those removed, there would still be a very large number of people receiving unemployment benefits. And in mid-June, employers still had to compete with those unemployment benefits, including that extra $300 a week.

But employers understand that the $300 a week is already being phased out in about half the states and will expire in the rest of the states on September 6, that this will make competition with unemployment benefits easier, and that hiring at the lower levels of the pay scales might become easier as well.



Is This Joe Biden’s PATCO Moment?
Will the Democratic president reverse the vicious anti-union trend sparked by Ronald Reagan 40 years ago?

By Mark Dudzic and Rand Wilson
Common Dreams
July 2, 2021

Speaking on the recent National Solidarity Call in support of striking nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, Our Revolution leader Joseph Geevarghese characterized the situation as “Biden’s PATCO Moment.” The call was convened by the LABOR CAMPAIGN FOR SINGLE PAYER to help mobilize national support for the 800 nurses at the Tenet Healthcare-owned hospital who are now engaged in the longest nurses strike nationally in over a decade. Tenet has spent more than $75 million to date to prolong the strike. A fraction of those funds could have easily met the nurses demands for the staffing improvements that are the sole issue driving the strike.

Now Tenet is threatening to permanently replace the striking nurses who are represented by the MASSACHEUSETTS NURSES ASSOCIATION> (MNA). This action, by a notorious healthcare profiteer (Tenet leveraged federal bailout funds intended to provide urgent relief to employees and patients to TRIPLE IT’S PROFITS at the height of the pandemic last summer), has transformed a hard fought strike battle into a red line issue for the entire labor movement.

FOR THOSE OF US OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER, it evokes the rampage of union busting that followed the Reagan Administration’s mass firing of striking air traffic controllers in the notorious PATCO strike of 1981.

Busting the air traffic controllers’ union sent a signal to employers everywhere that it was acceptable for management to break strikes and bust unions. In quick order, striking workers from copper miners in Arizona to newspaper workers in Detroit found themselves permanently replaced. Even more significantly, it changed the balance of power in labor/management relations as labor’s most powerful weapon was neutralized. This ushered in a devastating period of concessionary bargaining whose consequences are still being felt today.

Reagan’s decision to fire the striking PATCO members was not some isolated act of pique by an outraged president. In fact, his administration jumped at the opportunity to give teeth to its explicit policy to weaken and undermine the considerable power of the U.S. labor movement. And it was very successful.

The U.S. labor movement was slow to respond to this provocation. Both of us can remember standing on the National Mall on Solidarity Day in 1981 with half a million other union workers. It had taken the AFL-CIO more than six weeks after the initial firings to call the rally and they chose to hold it on a Saturday when Washington was shut down tight for the weekend. As we dozed in the sun listening to endless speeches, we could see the planes taking off and landing unimpeded just across the Potomac at National Airport. What should have been a forceful exhibition of labor power had been turned into a demonstration of our impotence. Like many others who were there that day, we vowed to never let another PATCO moment go unchallenged.

Tenet is a key player in a major strategic sector of the economy. If it is able to make the threat of permanent replacement an acceptable management tool in healthcare bargaining, it will weaken the entire labor movement for decades to come.

That’s why the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and other labor groups are stepping up to support the nurses and their union. They will be joining the MNA at a rally on July 7 in front of Tenet Headquarters in Dallas. They are also circulating A PETITION urging members of Congress to join Reps. Katie Porter (D Calif.) and Rosa DeLaura (D Conn.) in requesting an investigation into the use of taxpayer-financed Covid-19 relief funds by Tenet and other large hospital systems.

This strike could be a watershed moment for the Medicare for All movement by exposing the corrupt and anti-worker underpinnings of our for-profit healthcare system. “The simple fact is that, if we had Medicare for All, we wouldn’t even be in this fight,” said LCSP National Coordinator Rhiannon Duryea. “Nurse-to-patient ratios would be set by law, ensuring safe and effective staffing ratios across the country that protect nurses, patients, and the community. Hospitals would not be able to exploit nurses and patients to line shareholder pockets.”

This strike could also be a watershed moment for the Biden administration. Ronald Reagan reversed a 40-year policy to promote the right of workers to organize and to bargain collectively. Before Reagan, corporations feared using the permanent replacement option because the federal government had made it clear that it would not tolerate such brutal behavior in the course of labor relations. After Reagan, it was open season on workers and their unions. Inequality skyrocketed as wealth was massively redistributed upward.

President Biden, to his credit, has vowed to reverse these trends.  He has made a number of statements explicitly supporting worker rights and has appointed a number of pro-union advocates to key policy positions.

This is his chance to send a message to Tenet and corporate America that there’s a new sheriff in town. We need to challenge the Biden administration to put its money where its mouth is and to intervene forcefully in this conflict. The president must make it clear that permanently replacing lawful strikers is contrary to the policy of the U.S. government.

Tenet is not alone in trying to pull the rug out from under an upsurge in labor militancy.  There are a number of current and pending labor battles where management is engaging in overt union busting, including months-long strikes by coal miners in Alabama and steelworkers employed by Allegheny Industries as well as a nasty lockout of refinery workers at a giant Exxon/Mobil facility in Beaumont, Texas.

You can be sure that employers everywhere are watching how the Biden Administration reacts to these crises.  As Our Revolution’s Geevarghese told the participants on the Solidarity Call, “This strike creates the opportunity for President Biden to undo what President Reagan did.” It’s an opportunity that should not be squandered.


Posted by Elvis on 07/06/21 •
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