Americans are working harder for their jobs than ever before. Roughly 25 million Americans lack a full-time job, so there are plenty of people to replace them. They are afraid of going home one day without a place to be the following morning. So they work harder, they do more and they claim a pride out of it. Can’t be called a slacker if you don’t do two jobs for the price of one.
Worker productivity is up 80% over the last thirty years while wages are nearly half of what they once were. Bosses are getting more for less. The ultimate increase in the bottom line – good for business and bad for workers.
In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.
It is a simple math equation and one that we have been far too complicit. We are working more than other industrialized countries and we are getting far less back in return for our devotion to work.
Just counting work that’s on the books (never mind those 11 p.m. emails), Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans. The differential isn’t solely accounted for by longer hours, of course—worldwide, almost everyone except us has, at least on paper, a right to weekends off, paid vacation time, and paid maternity leave. (The only other countries that don’t mandate paid time off for new moms are Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Samoa, and Swaziland. U-S…A?)
For all the talk about respecting family and the idea of achieving something a little better than our parents had – we sure do not live up to it. It is all talk.
No maternity leave? Longer hours each week? Taking work home?
Complain and you are called lazy or worse yet; let go.
Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn: “Everything is tilted in favor of the employers…The employee has no leverage. If your boss says, ‘I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,’ what are you going to say—no?”
Yet the degradation of work life continues. Unions are some how evil while corporate greed is worshiped.
“You just need to work a little harder.”
Are we supposed to work ourselves to death? Are we all supposed to come up with the next million dollar idea? Are we all supposed to win the lottery to become 1/10th as rich as corporate CEO’s?
The Mother Jones article claims that we need to admit we have a problem. We are in an abusive relationship — or more like an indentured servitude relationship. We should not feel grateful just to have a job and be treated as a replaceable part on an assembly line.
At some point productivity begins to look a lot like Lucy and Ethel on the chocolate line. It just gets out of hand.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.