For my money, the Washington Post‘s Robert Samuelson is one of today’s most accessible economics columnists. Don’t miss his column today. Excerpts:
On this Labor Day, American workers face a buyers’ market. Employers have the upper hand and, given today’s languid pace of hiring, the advantage shows few signs of ending. What looms, at best, is a sluggish descent from high unemployment (7.4?percent in July) and a prolonged period of stagnant or slow-growing wages. Since 2007, there has been no gain in average inflation-adjusted wages and total compensation, including fringes, notes the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.
The weak job market has a semi-permanence unlike anything seen since World War II, and the effects on public opinion extend beyond the unemployed. “People’s expectations have been really ratcheted down for what they can expect for themselves and their children,” says EPI economist Lawrence Mishel. There’s a sense “that the economy just doesn’t produce good jobs anymore.” Possible job loss becomes more threatening because finding a new job is harder. Says Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center: “Security is valued more than money because it’s so fragile.”
At the end of the column, Samuelson notes that pressures on workers are global.
Workers do best when strong growth and tight markets raise real wages. On Labor Day 2013, this prospect is nowhere in sight.