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Shortchanged Workers Fuel the Missing Recovery

Posted on Mar 6, 2013
Don Hankins (CC BY 2.0)

Where is the recovery that has supposedly been under way since June 2009, asks former Reagan Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts. “I cannot find it, and neither can millions of unemployed Americans.”

“The recovery exists only in the official measure of real GDP … and in the U.3 measure of the unemployment rate, which is declining because it does not count discouraged job seekers who have given up looking for a job,” Roberts writes. No other economic measure shows an economic recovery, he says, including “retail sales … housing starts, consumer confidence, payroll employment, or average weekly earnings.”

Moreover, the current upswing in consumer spending is possible because the public is taking on more debt. If wages for those workers do not rise, then those debts will be unable to be repaid, and then will come another reckoning in the form of economic recession or depression.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Paul Craig Roberts at CounterPunch:

As I have reported on numerous occasions for many years, neither the payroll jobs statistics nor the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job projections show job opportunities for university graduates. But this doesn’t stop Congress from helping US corporations get rid of their American employees in exchange for campaign donations.

There was a time not that long ago when US corporations accepted that they had obligations to their employees, customers, suppliers, the communities in which they were located, and to their shareholders. Today they only acknowledge obligations to shareholders. Everyone else has been thrown to the wolves in order to maximize profits and, thereby, shareholders’ capital gains and executive bonuses.

By focusing on the bottom line at all costs, corporations are destroying the US consumer market. Offshoring jobs reduces labor costs and raises profits, but it also reduces domestic consumer income, thus reducing the domestic market for the corporation’s products. For awhile the reduction in consumer income can be filled by the expansion of consumer debt, but when consumers reach their debt limit sales cannot continue to rise. The consequence of jobs offshoring is the ruination of the domestic consumer market.

Today the stock market is high not from profits from expanding sales revenues, but from labor cost savings.

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