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Sun Nov 17, 2013, 08:53 PM

The 40 Year Slump: The Decline Of The American Job



The steady stream of Watergate revelations, President Richard Nixon’s twists and turns to fend off disclosures, the impeachment hearings, and finally an unprecedented resignation—all these riveted the nation’s attention in 1974. Hardly anyone paid attention to a story that seemed no more than a statistical oddity: That year, for the first time since the end of World War II, Americans’ wages declined.

Since 1947, Americans at all points on the economic spectrum had become a little better off with each passing year. The economy’s rising tide, as President John F. Kennedy had famously said, was lifting all boats. Productivity had risen by 97 percent in the preceding quarter-century, and median wages had risen by 95 percent. As economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted in The Affluent Society, this newly middle-class nation had become more egalitarian. The poorest fifth had seen their incomes increase by 42 percent since the end of the war, while the wealthiest fifth had seen their incomes rise by just 8 percent. Economists have dubbed the period the “Great Compression.”

This egalitarianism, of course, was severely circumscribed. African Americans had only recently won civil equality, and economic equality remained a distant dream. Women entered the workforce in record numbers during the early 1970s to find a profoundly discriminatory labor market. A new generation of workers rebelled at the regimentation of factory life, staging strikes across the Midwest to slow down and humanize the assembly line. But no one could deny that Americans in 1974 lived lives of greater comfort and security than they had a quarter-century earlier. During that time, median family income more than doubled.

Then, it all stopped. In 1974, wages fell by 2.1 percent and median household income shrunk by $1,500. To be sure, it was a year of mild recession, but the nation had experienced five previous downturns during its 25-year run of prosperity without seeing wages come down.

http://prospect.org/article/40-year-slump

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Reply The 40 Year Slump: The Decline Of The American Job (Original post)
onehandle Nov 2013 OP
woo me with science Nov 2013 #1
Blus4u Nov 2013 #2
kenny blankenship Nov 2013 #3
msongs Nov 2013 #4
jtuck004 Nov 2013 #6
FirstLight Nov 2013 #5
jtuck004 Nov 2013 #8
MisterP Nov 2013 #9
moondust Nov 2013 #7
Kablooie Nov 2013 #10
Mojorabbit Nov 2013 #11
polichick Nov 2013 #12

Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 09:07 PM

1. Now that's a graphic that warrants reposting...

everywhere.

K&R

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 09:50 PM

2. Talk about living the dream...

I started working as a lifeguard my senior year of high school in '69 and was paid $0.65/hr, which I believe was minimum wage at the time. I had to take one summer class to finish my undergrad degree in '73 and spent a good portion of time on a near deserted campus watching the televised Watergate Hearings. After five years or so of knocking around in various dead end jobs, I knew I had to get serious and find a "real" job with the birth of my first child in '79 and wound up in.....you guessed it, manufacturing.

A good portion of that 35 years or so was with a fortune 500 company and in 2000 I became acutely aware of how the game was being played when the CEO was making $90 million a year on a $4.5 million salary (the other $85.5 million in stock options and bonuses). Meanwhile they're off-shoring as fast as possible, are stagnating the wages and salaries of the people that actually produce product, and are starving the remaining US operations of resources and investment along the way.

Talk about living the dream.

Peace

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 10:21 PM

3. But ain't it grand how many people can get rich here?

And have you seen the stock market lately? Why, if it wasn't for that perpetually paying off piggy bank cum slot machine -and the free Bernanke Buxx we launder through it- people like me would have to go out and earn an honest living! Most of us wouldn't know where to start, even if we hadn't made it virtually impossible through a full generation of stagnant wages, offshored manufacturing and regressive taxation on the working class.

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 10:49 PM

4. so, how much made-in-china stuff is in the houses of DUers? nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:07 PM

6. You only get away from it if you live in a hole dug in a piece


of dirt which isn't owned in a country supported by the debt we owe the Chinese, that we increase with our trade imbalance every day.

Everything from border to border. Every step you take...

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 10:54 PM

5. the REAL question is

Is there a way out of this slump?

Other than huge redistribution of wealth, I think not...

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Response to FirstLight (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:16 PM

8. Sure there is. 1954, a priest in Spain, under a dictatorship

with much worse inequality and lack of freedom, started training some people in technical subjects, engineering, and the principles of cooperative work.

When they went to work for companies they found that it wasn't helping them, so they bought a paraffin stove factory with money borrowed from their neighbors, and began the Mondragon Cooperative.

Go read about how big that is, and how much better they have done than the rest of Spain. Their own college, their own banks, medical care, etc - they are even working with the Steelworkers here (though I think the principles of cooperative work are getting a little muddled).

Small, but there are hundreds of those efforts all across the country. Still a LOT to be done, but as people lose more and more, they have less and less to lose. Starting with just finding some like-minded people, cooperative groups are enabling people to walk away from the servitude they signed up for, and be happy with a little food, a good walk, fresh air, a place to live, a lot of learning, and a complete reversal of everything they thought they learned about the American Dream. That last one is the hardest part, believe it or not.

"I saved a thousand slaves. I could have saved a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves".
H. Tubman.

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Response to FirstLight (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:21 PM

9. we haven't gotten enough neoliberals into office to defeat the further right!

or we haven't insisted hard enough that neolibs are really socialists!
it's! just! growing! PAAAAINS!

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:13 PM

7. Where have all the wages gone?

Wall Street investors schemers and executive salaries?

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:28 PM

10. But the big question is what can we do about it?

And the eternal answer.

NOTHING!!!!!



Oh, not quite true.
We moan a lot about it, I guess that's something.

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Mon Nov 18, 2013, 12:35 AM

11. Great post! Wonderful charts. nt

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Response to onehandle (Original post)

Mon Nov 18, 2013, 01:01 AM

12. Those graphs should go viral in a HUGE way! k&r

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