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What happened to wages?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by hobbsyoyo, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Hmm, don't you think that the US might need some people to, I don't know, pick fruits and vegetables, wait tables at restaurants, operate the cash register at the department store, work in Amazon warehouses to make sure your package gets to you on time, etc, etc?

    Same problem applies. You really don't understand the difference between a macro/aggregate problem and a micro/individual problem do you? We all know which jobs are low-wage. Unless you are suggesting that society does not need these jobs to be done at all, then we are going to need people to work in those jobs, and those people need to be able to support themselves on the money they earn by doing so. That is the problem we are discussing in this thread.

    Now that I've explained it clearly, can we move past this stupid derailment of the thread and back to the problem of how the people who don't get to work in "hot fields" will support themselves with some dignity?
     
  2. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    I'd love to hear your thoughts on the how. I suggested higher minimum wages. What are the other solutions / ideas?
     
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  3. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    You do that and then you would notice that the job opportunities are quite bad for that, because companies are always trying to minimize the cost for that. They are outsourcing those jobs to countries with cheaper labor and/or automating the process to the point where the support agent is almost just a text-to-speech function for the backend software (and since this does not require much skill, there is no reason to pay high wages for that).

    For every high-paying tech job a company creates, 3 (or more) medium paying jobs are destroyed (or there would be no business case for the high-paying job). Focusing on the individual career choice is nothing but a diversion from the real issues.

    As long as the productivity of high-paying jobs increases faster than the economy grows, you will need less people for the same work. So the median income should actually drop when more people go into tech, even if the companies would adequately match productivity increase with wage increase. And why would they do that, when they can get away with only a slight increase in wages and keep the difference?
     
  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Well, I hardly claim to have all the answers! I agree minimum wage can help, but I think there are stronger tools:
    1) make the organizing environment easier for unions
    2) Federal Job Guarantee establishing a firmer floor for wages than a minimum wage can
    3) Immigration reform, no more legal underclass with no protections
    4) Generally push for a full-employment economy to give labor more bargaining power
     
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  5. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    Anything that strengthens the position of employees with respect to their employers. I think there are two major points:
    1. strengthen collective bargaining
    2. enable people to walk away from a job (offer)
    - a good safety net for the unemployed
    - create alternative opportunities (e.g. opportunities to skill up without major investment)
    - decrease financial pressure (like student loans) that force people to take any job they can get
     
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  6. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    It would be interesting to compare the wages of the factory worker with that of the engineer designing factories, to check whether this difference is some kind of timeless recurrence (not to say inevitability), or a social choice. I suspect it would show that it is a social choice.

    I also suspect that advertising and the creation of consumer/service fads is to some degree one of the causes of this problem. "Agile" companies both want disposable workers (hence, low wage, no specialization) and need experts in some (few) fields to organize the creation and the exploitation of a fad. While advertising and the creation of psychological needs is old, the pace of it has increased recently.

    Severely restricting advertising would probably do a lot of good to the world. These social problems need to be fought on its deep causes, on the issues of social organization that create then. Not with band-aids.
     
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  7. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    Yeah, I understand the macro/aggregate issue and have agreed that it's an issue. (more than once) We're talking mean wages here. That means there will be those above and those below. If you don't think people should be choosing those that are above the mean, rather than those below, then people shouldn't listen to you. Yeah yeah, not everyone gets that choice but I'm willing to bet that most here had that choice. And when it's really obvious which ones are better, if you choose poorly, you have to shoulder some of the blame. But go ahead and rant how moronic it is.
     
  8. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    On the contrary, if you think the problem that wages in the economy are too low can be solved by people choosing to enter high-paying fields, you really do not understand the problem.
     
  9. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    How many times do I have to say that I understand so you will listen and stop saying that?
    Not saying it's a solution, just saying that many people can make decisions that will help them beat the mean.
    I never said all so stop saying that's what I mean.
    Geeze.
     
  10. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    This may be a kit in the tool box but I feel that we're already pretty close to full employment and it hasn't done that much good on its own. Coupled with other things though and that's another issue.
     
  11. Estebonrober

    Estebonrober Deity

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    There is a distinct difference though. For one we are still not at record employment being like 4% off form the high in 68'? Something like that, which leaves a still considerable amount of slack in the employment market. Second a good number of people are under employed or take a lower wage then they feel is due to them. Finally a job guarantee would push this in a fundamental way and more importantly in my mind would change the narrative of the purpose of market economics from profit seeking to utilization of productivity as goals. So instead of pushing that extra .3% margin get 10 more people working and producing.
     
  12. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    I don't agree at all. We have a lot of people who are involuntarily unemployed.
     
  13. astrallite

    astrallite Chieftain

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    Either stronger unions or some form of national collective bargaining would help increase wage share of national income. In the past it was ins 70s% range and now it's in the low 50%s. So compared to a worker in the 1970s,wage earners earn about 30-35% less of the share of the national income today.
     
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  14. Drewcifer

    Drewcifer Agent of Karma

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    As a side issue to this, I wonder how much of the perception that wages haven't kept up with prices is due to the rise in prices for housing? In the US, the cost of housing isn't part of the consumer price index, but for most people it is their single largest monthly expense. If you are a long time homeowner that is great, because it is an asset that is increasing in value, but if you are a renter or first time home buyer, it represents a major hit in your standard of living vs those who had similar inflation adjusted incomes 40 or 50 years ago. In the US, almost all the areas with hot job markets are large cities that have rents that are increasing much faster than the rate of inflation. Even formerly inexpensive cities like Atlanta, Houston and Charlotte now have average rents over $1200 a month for a one bedroom apartment. In 1998 I was renting a 1 br in St Paul, Minnesota for what would be $598 a month in today's dollars. It is obviously not possible to live in a large American metro at that price anymore. For the working class, this creates a situation where they have to choose between living in a dynamic, "prosperous" city they can barely afford, or a smaller, cheaper area with fewer job prospects.

    I suspect that if we could fix our housing markets, and especially the rental housing markets in large cities, it would go a long way to improving the financial outlook of the bottom half of society.
     
  15. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    Unemployment is 3.6% right now which is about equal to the low in the late 60's. In the 50's it got below 3%. And in the 50's, there was a much larger share of women not participating in the workforce who wouldn't have counted toward unemployment numbers which means we're employing a larger chunk of adults now than then.

    I do think underemployment is a big issue right now.


    https://www.google.com/publicdata/e...m=country:US&fdim_y=seasonality:S&hl=en&dl=en
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  16. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    But in order to beat the mean, other people must fall below the mean. Unless the mean itself is going up, which I think generally - in this thread - we can agree it isn't (to the extent productivity and so on has). It's not a zero-cost game, here. If you advance into a field in order to get a higher wage, not only do you stifle promotions from lower-level employees in that field, but you leave behind a gap in your field (whatever that is).

    Your suggestion might help for individual people on a selective basis - but the problem is from your wording I (and evidently others) got the impression you were talking about a more general fix. If all you're suggesting is something that can help a few people based on personal anecdotes, fair enough. Is that the case?
     
  17. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    No, just saying it's a mean, and with means yes, by nature some are above and some are below. But you're right it's not a zero sum game. If the mean raises it can only do so by someone improving, but doesn't guarantee that all are. But that doesn't change the fact that some people could beat the mean by making smarter choices. Heck, I was a poly sci major and I certainly wasn't going to make a lot of money doing that. Yes, Lex is right that it's not for everyone but many more people could develop the skill than he thinks. Yes, there are always going to be people that don't have a choice, but those that do, need to make better decisions.

    Stronger unions would help as long as some of the corruption that has creeped into them can be eliminated so all the gains go to the workers and not the union administrators. But this is really no different than what happens in corporations, it's just there the thieving from the workers is legal.

    More worker ownership would help. In terms of profit sharing. I'm a firm believer in employee stock ownership and REAL representation on the board.

    I don't believe in guaranteed employment or UBI. I think it decreases incentive and motivation. So go ahead and call me a monster.
     
  18. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    Can you imagine the propoganda effort that would kick off if the government were ever to debate laws that require this?
     
  19. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    Considering the examples where profit was improved when this is done right, you would think laws would not be required for this.
     
  20. Naskra

    Naskra Emperor

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    This is what Warren's Accountable Capitalism Act does. We used to call this fascism.
     
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