Impoverishment of American Workforce Continues

November 2, 2015

The U.S. Labor Department reported Oct. 30 that its Index of Employment Costs — which hasn't declined in 25 years except for the first, "crash" quarter of 2009 — dropped by 0.6% in the third quarter of this year. The Index, which includes wages and all retirement, pension, and health insurance benefit costs for employment of a given hour of labor, is still 2.1% higher than one year earlier. But all that increase and more was the increased company costs of health insurance plans (+3.3%) undera Obamacare. Wages, and all other benefits, fell in real terms over that year.

A Sept. 30 report on wages and poverty issued by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows that the wages side of this decline is still continuing.

The study, based on analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, found that since the end of 2009, when recession "ended" and Obama's "recovery" began, real wages have declined for the majority of all employees in the United States.

For all American workers, the median real weekly wage is down by 4% during this "Obama recovery." But for those in lower-wage occupations, the loss of income has been greater. For cooks, it is down 8.9%; for food preparation workers, down 7.7%; for personal care and home health aides, the fastest-growing "healthcare job," the median weekly wage is down 6.6%; for retail salespeople, it is down 5.5%; for waiters and waitresses, down 5.1%, for janitors and cleaners, down 5.0%.

Thus the huge and continuing increase in food stamp use to 50 million; the 22 million Americans now living in "extreme poverty"; the fact, exposed by New York City Congressmen this week, that the average income for all minority households in New York City puts them in the official "low-wage worker" category.

Against this background, the White House wanted to raise Medicare premiums by an average of 15% in 2015 while freezing all Social Security and disability benefits. Congress blocked Obama from doing this, but replaced it with (1) cuts in eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, and (2) cuts in Medicare payments to outpatient clinics operated by or within hospitals.