Our View: Little cause for holiday mood
SouthtownStar editorial August 30, 2013 8:14PM
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:28AM
As we pause from our toils on this Labor Day weekend to celebrate the value of work, we should ponder how are we doing.
Except for the top 1 percent or so of income earners, we’ve been struggling for at least a decade. Sorry, the figures don’t fib on this one. Fewer full-time jobs, and too many that don’t pay enough to allow their holders to join the middle class.
The discouraging evidence should inspire a fundamental change of direction, though there’s little sign our nation’s leaders can muster the intellectual energy for such a feat.
The gap between the top earners and the rest of us has never been as wide, and that presents great potential peril for the future of the country.
How can this be? That’s the perfect question to ask this weekend because someone is paying for the disproportionate benefits of work and labor. It’s you.
If you make $50,000 or less a year, you haven’t made much more than that for at least a decade. If you are the second income earner in a home and surrender time with children to buy groceries, you are paying for it.
The mechanics of work versus pay suggest that many of those who work the hardest are getting the least benefit. Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of America’s gross domestic product.
Until 1975, wages nearly always accounted for more than 50 percent of the nation’s GDP, but last year they fell to a record low of 43.5 percent. Since 2001, when the wage share was 49 percent, there has been a steep slide.
A sizable, and growing, portion of overall pay goes to the top 1 percent — senior corporate executives, Wall Street professionals, Hollywood stars, pop singers and professional athletes.
The share of wages for this employed elite climbed to 12.9 percent in 2010, up from 7.3 percent in 1979. Why do they deserve so much, and we get so little?
So celebrate Labor Day, but do not do so mindlessly.