Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not Your Father's Pay:
Why Wages Today Are Weaker

From the Wall Street Journal courtesy of AlterNet:

American men in their 30s today are worse off than their fathers' generation, a reversal from just a decade ago, when sons generally were better off than their fathers, a new study finds.

The study, the first in a series on economic mobility undertaken by several prominent think tanks, also says the typical American family's income has lagged far behind productivity growth since 2000, a departure from most of the post-World War II period.


Ms. Sawhill said she isn't sure why men's wages have stagnated. "It seems there's been some slowdown in economic growth, it's possible that the movement of women into the labor force has affected male earnings, and it's possible that men are not working as hard as they used to."


Ms. Sawhill said several factors could explain the divergence: a growing share of income going to the highest-paid workers, or to profits; an increased share of labor compensation going toward benefits such as health care; or a decline in the number of wage earners in the typical family.

Click here for the rest.

Sawhill, an economist with the Brookings Institute, seems to be hopelessly misguided on the decline in male wages, but pretty close to spot-on with her comment about the decline in family income. That is, it strikes me as utterly stupid, or at least overly simplistic, to blame lower wages for men on women when study after study continues to show that women make less than men for the same work--I suppose it's possible that women in the work force have depressed wages overall, but at the very least, such studies indicate that the picture is much more complicated than her assertion suggests. As for men in their thirties not working as hard as their predecessors, well, being 39 myself, I won't even dignify such speculation with a response.

Oh, what the hell, here's a response: go fuck yourself, Sawhill, you pompous fucking bitch.

As for her latter assertion, I've been saying pretty much the same thing here at Real Art for years myself. The business class has perfected the art of keeping profits to themselves; meanwhile non-discretionary expenses have skyrocketed. It's hell out here for working people. I'm a bit confused by that very last sentence, though. Families are indeed smaller than they used to be, but if all these women have entered the work force in such numbers that it's hurting male wages, how could there not be some kind of offsetting of the smaller family phenomenon?

Christ, economists have no idea what they're talking about sometimes.