Labor Department says worker productivity soaring

Not surprising at all to millions of U.S. workers were the results of a report by the Labor Department  that said worker productivity soared in the last quarter by 6.6 percent, more than it has in six years.

Since increases in productivity can help raise living standards because companies are better able to hike wages this should be great news. Why, then isn’t everyone celebrating?

The hitch is that the same report says labor “costs” (what companies pay in wages and benefits) actually went down by 5.9 percent in the same period. That was on top of the 5 percent drop in those labor “costs” during the prior quarter.

Labor “costs” actually fell during the last quarter by the most they have fallen in nine years.

It is the slashing of wages and the laying off of workers, then that allow the companies to not only report wonderful earnings but also to and line the pockets of their CEO’s with ever bigger and better bonuses.

No need to worry, however, about what only seems to be an ever widening wealth gap between the few who have and the rest of us who have not.

A top Goldman Sachs exec, speaking last week in Great Britain, explained that “folks angry about big banker windfalls simply have to accept that inequality is a way of achieving greater opportunity and prosperity for all.”

A government minister in Singapore last week reminded his people that they “must understand that our globalized world economy essentially makes ever wider income gaps inevitable.”

It’s probably just your imagination that these explanations for the inevitability and necessity of inequality sound a lot like rehashed “trickle down” economics or like the desperate last gaps of a dying mindset.

Let’s get real!

We’ve done the inequality thing the Goldman Sachs exec says we have to do. So far we haven’t seen much in the way of either the “opportunity” or the “prosperity,” he says will come our way, as a result.

The people know that, given a free hand, the big time execs and bankers will continue to operate by squeezing consumers and plotting merger deals and many other deals that result in super paydays for themselves and pink slips for the rest of us.

The movements for jobs, health care and labor organizing rights, however, are aimed at drastically shortening the amount of time they have left to get away with their game.





John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.