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.