(Washington Post) Robert Samuelson—Why on Labor Day 2013 Workers are Right to be Scared

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now comes the third labor regime: a confusing mix of old and new. The private safety net is shredding, though the public safety net (unemployment insurance, Social Security, anti-poverty programs, anti-discrimination laws) remains. Economist Fishback suggests we may be drifting back toward “unfettered labor markets” with greater personal instability, insecurity — and responsibility. Workers are often referred to as “free agents.” An article in the Harvard Business Review argues that lifetime employment at one company is dead and proposes the following compact: Companies invest in workers’ skills to make them more employable when they inevitably leave; workers reciprocate by devoting those skills to improving corporate profitability.

“The new compact isn’t about being nice,” the article says. “It’s based on an understanding that a company is its talent, that low performers will be cut, and that the way to attract talent is to offer appealing opportunities.”

Workers can’t be too picky, because their power has eroded. Another indicator: After years of stability, labor’s share — in wages and fringes — of non-farm business income slipped from 63 percent in 2000 to 57 percent in 2013, reports the White House Council of Economic Advisers. But an even greater decline in 22 other advanced countries, albeit over a longer period, suggests worldwide pressures on workers.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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