In A Word, Awful

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Cay Johnson analyzes the first official data on jobs and wages for 2010 released yesterday.

Anyone who wants to understand the enduring nature of Occupy Wall Street and similar protests across the country need only look at the first official data on 2010 paychecks, which the U.S. government posted on the Internet on Wednesday.

The figures from payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration on jobs and pay are, in a word, awful. [...]

There were fewer jobs and they paid less last year, except at the very top where, the number of people making more than $1 million increased by 20 percent over 2009.

The median paycheck — half made more, half less — fell again in 2010, down 1.2 percent to $26,364. That works out to $507 a week, the lowest level, after adjusting for inflation, since 1999. [...]

More significantly, the number of people with any work has fallen by 5.2 million since 2007, when the worst recession since the Great Depression began, with a massive taxpayer bailout of Wall Street following in late 2008.
This means 3.3 percent of people who had a job in 2007, or one in every 3330, went all of 2010 without earning a dollar.

In addition to the 5.2 million people who no longer have any work add roughly 4.5 million people who, due to population growth, would normally join the workforce in three years and you have close to 10 million workers who did not find even an hour of paid work in 2010.

The overwhelming majority of the nation is settling for less work, or no work at all, and for less pay. Meanwhile, the number of people who make over $1 million per year increased 20 percent.

That's strange. I was lead to believe this administration is engaged in class warfare.

If they are, as the Republicans would have you believe, they certainly aren't making any headway.

The Republicans would also have you believe that the solution to this problem is to swell the ranks of the unemployed to even greater levels by shedding 10 percent of the federal workforce, because those aren't real jobs anyway, and the free-market job-fairy will come along to save the day just as soon as we do so. Like magic.

Maybe even a big, corporate, tax-repatriation holiday will do the trick!

The reality is this administration's hands have been tied. Tied by filibuster, blue dogs, and the Tea Party congress of Eric Cantor and John Boehner. The reality is the federal government is the only entity with the power to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

Corporate America isn't going to. They have no incentive. And Republican policies, and the consequences of the reckless deregulation of the mortgage industry, have left most states too broke to lift a finger.

Another inconvenient fact for the Republican's policy goals is that many states operate under balanced budget amendments and, under their own law, they do not have the ability to finance any sort of recovery operation without raising taxes.

Fortunately, the federal government does not operate under a balanced budget amendment, but it's not because the Republicans haven't tried to introduce one.

  • bleedingheartliberal6

    Here’s one thing that NEVER gets mentioned in jobs reports. Has anyone really taken a look at the want ads or on one of the internet job sites – and seen what jobs are out there? A huge amount of them are commissioned sales jobs – with no base salary, benefits, reimbursment for out of pocket expenses (like gas), etc. They are basically jobs where you work for FREE (and spend your own money), unless you sell something (good luck with that) and then, you only receive a miniscule commission. I wish that would show up in the job nos!!!

    • bphoon

      Either that, or “jobs” as private contractors…

  • bphoon

    Y’all take a good look, too, at where that blue line falls off the cliff–in ’08-’09. In other words, the last year of the Bush presidency!

    Point that out next time some winger either tries to blame Obama for screwing up the economy or bashes us for “blaming Bush”.

    People: This shit came about under the economic policies of the Bush Administrations. Pure and simple. A return to the same policies will carry the same results with the difference being that we don’t have that far to fall this time before we cross from “the worst recession since the Great Depression” to the “only depression since the Great Depression.”

    Wake. The. Fuck. Up.

    • muselet

      But … but … but that’s because The Job Producers realized the socialistislamofascistnazicommunistkenyanblacketyblackblack usurper was going to steal the presidency from the actual President of the United States, John McCain. They made the reasonable decision to cut jobs rather than pay the crippling new taxes the socialistislamofascistnazicommunistkenyanblacketyblackblack usurper’s regime was going to impose. [/wingnut]

      To the average Righty, nothing any Democrat does can possibly have a positive outcome and nothing any Republican does can possibly have a negative outcome, even if it means denying the linear nature of time. Therefore, the recession of the early- to mid-1970s had nothing to do with Gerald Ford’s policies (or those of Richard Nixon) and everything to do with Jimmy Carter’s policies (even though Carter hadn’t been elected yet). The economic recovery in the early 1980s had nothing to do with Carter’s policies and everything to do with Ronald Reagan’s policies (even though the recovery began before Reagan’s policies had been implemented). The economic downturn in the early 1990s had nothing to do with George HW Bush’s policies and everything to do with Carter’s policies (even though this means that cause took two entire presidential terms to create effect). The economic boom of the 1990s had nothing to do with Bill Clinton’s policies and everything to do with Reagan’s policies (causation skipped only one term this time). The economic downturn of the early 2000s had nothing to do with George W Bush’s policies (hey, they finally got one right!) and everything to do with the policies of Clinton and Carter (and they stumble at the very next fence!). The Great Recession had nothing to do with GWB’s policies and everything to do with the policies of Clinton and Carter and (showing once more that the economy is clairvoyant) Barack Obama.

      Arguing economics with Righties is like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer: it feels so good when you stop.


  • muselet

    Another inconvenient fact for the Republican’s policy goals is that many states operate under balanced budget amendments and, under their own law, they do not have the ability to finance any sort of recovery operation without raising taxes.

    Feature, not bug. The Rs are determined to destroy the federal government’s ability to do much of anything except buy bombs with which to make a lot of brown people dead. States are limited in what they can do by balanced-budget requirements and the sheer size and scope of the problems they face. Municipalities, ditto. Cries of “Gummint have faled!” echo through the land.

    Enter *kazoo fanfare* THE FREE MARKET! It’s the answer to everything! Eliminate all restrictions, taxes, regulations and legal requirements on THE FREE MARKET and everything will be wonderful again! THE FREE MARKET will be our salvation!

    The Rs don’t seem to realize that they won’t be valued servants when the oligarchy gets its way—they’ll be serfs, just like the rest of us.



  • Bobby Carr

    The thing that gets me is that a lot of the people who are falling into these numbers blame everyone except the one’s who are causing this. Every pro-Tea Party, anti-government Fox New watching one of them.

  • Frances Ryl

    This is really grim news.