1

Millions Of Low Paying “Jobs” are Available, but Most Americans Can’t Afford to Take Them

By Michael Snyder | Activist Post

There are more job openings in the United States than ever before, but the vast majority of the available “jobs” pay so little that most Americans don’t want them.  If working extremely long hours for some employer is not even going to lift you out of poverty, then you are probably better off taking whatever government assistance that you can get until a decent paying job eventually comes along.  For example, if you get a job that pays 10 dollars an hour and you work full-time hours every week, you will earn somewhere around $1,600 a month before taxes.  Needless to say, you can’t survive in most U.S. cities on $1,600 a month these days.  It would have been tough to make it on $1,600 a month before the pandemic, but now we are in a highly inflationary environment.  Housing costs are absolutely skyrocketing, health insurance premiums are at extremely ridiculous levels and food prices have been rising aggressively.  The higher the cost of living gets, the less attractive low-paying jobs are going to become.

Having said that, it is still good news that the number of job openings is sitting at a record high right now…

Job openings in the U.S. rose slightly in May to a record 9.21 million, reflecting an insatiable demand for labor as the economy fully reopens and businesses scramble to keep up with soaring sales for their goods and services.

The number of available jobs has set a record for three straight months. Job openings had fallen to as low as 4.6 million last year after the coronavirus pandemic briefly shut down much of the economy.

Having lots of jobs available is better than not having a lot of jobs available, but of course, the vast majority of those “jobs” could not support a middle-class lifestyle for an average American family.

Some have been using the term “labor shortage” to describe what is going on out there, but in reality, what we are really facing is a shortage of jobs that people are actually willing to work.

Even though there are supposedly so many “jobs” available at this moment, the unemployment rate in this country actually went up last month…

“There’s simply no labor shortage when you’re talking about finding house cleaners for a hotel — there is a shortage of workers who want to work at what you’re offering,” said Sylvia Allegretto, a UC Berkeley labor economist. She said the country is experiencing a “wage and benefits shortage.”

A labor shortage implies there aren’t enough available workers to fill open jobs, but this is not the case nationally, or in California. National unemployment in June was 5.9%, up from 5.8% in May, in part because the number of people looking for jobs grew, according to data from the Labor Department on Friday. California’s unemployment is tracking higher, at 7.9% in May.

Of course, it doesn’t help that being unemployed pays quite handsomely in many states these days.

If you can make more money doing nothing, it simply doesn’t make sense to work.

In order to encourage more people to work, many large chains in the restaurant industry are now raising wages substantially

Job openings in the accommodation and food services sector increased from 1.16 million in April to 1.25 million in May.

To entice workers to stay — and to hire more people — restaurants have been raising wages. Darden Restaurants (DRI), which owns Olive Garden, announced in March that it is hiking pay. McDonald’s (MCD), too, announced wage hikes for employees at corporate-owned stores in May. Others have done the same.

Large corporate chains can do this because they have deep pockets.

But millions of small businesses all over the country that deeply struggled during the pandemic are not in the same position.

Ultimately, a lot of small business owners find themselves doing more and more of the work themselves because they simply can’t find enough people to work for the wages that they are offering.  Here is just one example

Jarvis Young, who owns a Papa John’s in Los Angeles with his wife, is struggling to staff up at all levels, from managers to delivery drivers. He employs 16 workers and said he needs closer to 23.

He has started borrowing employees from other Papa John’s franchises to keep up with demand. Until they hire one, his wife is acting as the general manager. The two of them sometimes deliver pizzas — not quite what they envisioned for themselves as franchise owners. “At the end of the day, this is our business,” he said.

Today, there are tens of millions of Americans that are considered to be among the “working poor”, and that number is growing with each passing day.

The cost of living is rising far faster than our paychecks are, and an increasing number of Americans are not even able to afford the basics.

For instance, everyone needs a place to live.  Unfortunately, home prices have surged so dramatically this year that the percentage of Americans that say that it is a “bad time to buy a home” has risen to the highest level ever recorded

The percentage who said that it was a “bad time to buy a home” spiked over the past three months from record to record and in June hit 64%. Consumers cited home prices as the predominant reason.

A record low 32% of the respondents said that it was still a good time to buy a home, while the percentage of fence-sitters who didn’t know dropped to 4%.

And just trying to buy enough food to eat is becoming a challenge for a lot of people.

When I went to the grocery store this week, I was stunned to see how high prices had become.  Of course, some manufacturers are trying to hide price increases by shrinking the sizes of their packages, and this is something that NPR did an article on the other day

A couple of weeks ago, Edgar Dworsky walked into a Stop & Shop grocery store in Somerville, Mass., like a detective entering a murder scene.

He stepped into the cereal aisle, where he hoped to find the smoking gun. He scanned the shelves. Oh no, he thought. He was too late. The store had already replaced old General Mills cereal boxes — such as Cheerios and Cocoa Puffs — with newer ones. It was as though the suspect’s fingerprints had been wiped clean.

But Dworsky’s story didn’t end there.  He decided to check out the back of the store, and it was there that he discovered what he was searching for...

Then Dworsky headed toward the back of the store. Sure enough, old boxes of Cocoa Puffs and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios were stacked at the end of one of the aisles. He grabbed an old box of Cocoa Puffs and put it side by side with the new one. Aha! The tip he had received was right on the money. General Mills had downsized the contents of its “family size” boxes from 19.3 ounces to 18.1 ounces.

Dworsky went to the checkout aisle, and both boxes — gasp! — were the same price. It was an open-and-shut case: General Mills is yet another perpetrator of “shrinkflation.”

As I discussed a few days ago, we are going to be in a high inflation environment for the foreseeable future.

That means that low-paying jobs will just become less and less attractive.

So employers can boast that they have as many “job openings” as they want, but if wage growth continues to lag way behind the real rate of inflation most of those jobs will continue to remain empty.

***Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com.  In addition to my new book, I have written four others that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing the books you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream, and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial, or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on FacebookTwitter, and Parler, and anyway that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.




5 Groups That Are Killing the Middle Class

Soup Kitchen-compressed

By Paul Buchheit | Common Dreams

Their unspoken goal is a two-class nation, with a heavily armed security force to quell resistance from the more outspoken members of the lower class. It may be somewhat of an unwitting goal, since narcissistic wealth-takers, as they build their fortunes, tend to lose their ability to empathize with others.

Barack Obama said, “We are not as divided as we seem.” But those are just feel-good words. A middle class still exists, but in weakened form, as many families from the once-dominant mainstream of society continue to move up or down, mostly down. The conspirators in the breakdown of the middle class have complementary roles that allow them to divide the country as they perpetuate the myth of prosperity for all.

Congress: The Kingpins

Gun control is the most flagrant example of Congressional disdain for the middle class. Over 90% of Americans want background checks, but Congress has failed to act. The House of Representatives even rejected an amendment that would have allowed research into causes of gun violence.

The list goes on and on:

Over 90% favor laws on clean air and water, but Congress has proposed to weaken them. Almost 80% want to increase Social Security benefits. 83% want Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Nearly 90% support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. About two-thirds of polled Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes. 90% support the protection of public lands.

Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Military: The Enforcers

Barack Obama said, “They are not very good at feeding their people, but they invest a huge amount in their weapons systems.” He was talking about North Korea. In the U.S., where halfthe discretionary budget is spent on the military, one of five children live in food insecure households.

As we pour trillions into war, cutbacks decimate programs vital to the middle class—vital to the one out of five Americans who have mental health problems; to the dependentchildren who lost funding for the first time in nearly 20 years; to the neglected public schools; to injured workers; to food pantries.

The conspirators also feel the need to protect themselves within our own borders, and they do this with an increasingly militarized system of local law enforcement. In recent years the Pentagon has armed local police forces with assault rifles, land-mine detectors, grenade launchers, and half-million-dollar mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs).

Research by Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev indicates that greater inequality is correlated with a greater demand for security services, which apparently stems from the need to stifle lower-class opposition, and which is manifested in violence between police and minorities.

Lobbyists: The Con Men

The top lobbyists? The US Chamber of Commerce, a consortium of business interestssupporting job outsourcing and climate denial; followed by the National Association of Realtors, which seeks Congressional favors even as three-quarters of renters with incomes below the $30,000 median are “cost burdened,” paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent.

Next come the American Medical Association, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Pharmaceutical Research, and the American Hospital Association, with Pfizer close behind. According to the Milliman Medical Index, the cost of healthcare in 2015 for a typical American family of four covered by a PPO was $24,671—nearly half the median household income. Pharmaceutical companies have successfully lobbied Congress to keep Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices, and they pay off generic drug manufacturers to delay entry of their products into the market, thereby forcing consumers to pay the highest prices for medicine. For every $1 they spend on basic research, they invest $19 in promotion and marketing. Meanwhile, the industry has cut nearly 150,000 jobs since 2008.

Also in the top 20 are Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, all complicit with Big Business in keeping the nation safe for profit-making. Lockheed Martin’s revenues increased 15.7% after President Obama announced the addition of 250 troops in Syria.

The conspiratorial revolving door is spinning fast: Of the 352 people who left Congress alive since 2008, almost half have joined the lobbyist and related industries.

Media: The Illusionists

The popular business-oriented media insults the middle class with inane headlines and quotes that betray their ignorance about issues that matter to most of us:

The mainstream media is complicit, of course, with its corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, “The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues…[Young people] don’t even know that we are the only major country without healthcare for all. They don’t know that in Germany or in Scandinavia college is free…Media is not telling them that…If you talk about the real issues and people get educated on the real issues, you know what happens next? They actually may want to bring about change.”

Instead, the media keeps scaring us into dependency on the military/police state, with panicky reports from sources like FOX, which skipped past wars and lynchings and called ISIS “the single biggest threat in [America’s] 200-year history.”

Finance: The Hitmen

As our nation bemoans the violence in lower- and middle-class communities, the financial industry keeps to itself, perfecting the role of Economic Hitman that John Perkins defined on a global scale. Despite generating about 25% of all corporate profits, finance creates only about 4% of all jobs, and it has decimated middle-class homeowners and students throughunpayable debt. In a direct hit to lower-class workers, the industry pays itself enough inbonuses to boost all 2.6 million U.S. fast-food workers to a $15 minimum wage.

Nothing would help the middle class more than a financial transaction tax. In Chicago, sales of $1 quadrillion (a thousand trillion dollars, 4 times more than all the money in the world), generated ZERO SALES TAX. Instead the Chicago Mercantile Exchange complained that its own taxes were too high, and they demanded and received a tax break.

In a recent letter to his Berkshire Hathaway stockholders, Warren Buffett, the beloved old man of finance, whose company has been avoiding its taxes for years, blathered: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history… America’s economic magic remains alive and well.

That “economic magic” is making the American middle class disappear.

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




Wall Street’s Threat to the American Middle Class (and What Must Be Done to Stop It)

Robert Reich | Commondreams

wall streetPresidential aspirants in both parties are talking about saving the middle class. But the middle class can’t be saved unless Wall Street is tamed.

The Street’s excesses pose a continuing danger to average Americans. And its ongoing use of confidential corporate information is defrauding millions of middle-class investors.

Yet most presidential aspirants don’t want to talk about taming the Street because Wall Street is one of their largest sources of campaign money.

Do we really need reminding about what happened six years ago? The financial collapse crippled the middle class and poor — consuming the savings of millions of average Americans, and causing 23 million to lose their jobs, 9.3 million to lose their health insurance, and some 1 million to lose their homes.

A repeat performance is not unlikely. Wall Street’s biggest banks are much larger now than they were then. Five of them hold about 45 percent of America’s banking assets. In 2000, they held 25 percent.

And money is cheaper than ever. The Fed continues to hold the prime interest rate near zero.

This has fueled the Street’s eagerness to borrow money at rock-bottom rates and use it to make risky bets that will pay off big if they succeed, but will cause big problems if they go bad.

We learned last week that Goldman Sachs has been on a shopping binge, buying cheap real estate stretching from Utah to Spain, and a variety of companies.

If not technically a violation of the new Dodd-Frank banking law, Goldman’s binge surely violates its spirit.

Meanwhile, the Street’s lobbyists have gotten Congress to repeal a provision of Dodd-Frank curbing excessive speculation by the big banks.

The language was drafted by Citigroup and personally pushed by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Not incidentally, Dimon recently complained of being “under assault” by bank regulators.

Last year JPMorgan’s board voted to boost Dimon’s pay to $20 million, despite the bank paying out more than $20 billion to settle various legal problems going back to financial crisis.

The American middle class needs stronger bank regulations, not weaker ones.

Last summer, bank regulators told the big banks their plans for orderly bankruptcies were “unrealistic.” In other words, if the banks collapsed, they’d bring the economy down with them.

Dodd-Frank doesn’t even cover bank bets on foreign exchanges. Yet recent turbulence in the foreign exchange market has caused huge losses at hedge funds and brokerages.

This comes on top of revelations of widespread manipulation by the big banks of the foreign-exchange market.

Wall Street is also awash in inside information unavailable to average investors.

Just weeks ago a three- judge panel of the U.S. court of appeals that oversees Wall Streetreversed an insider-trading conviction, saying guilt requires proof a trader knows the tip was leaked in exchange for some “personal benefit” that’s “of some consequence.”

Meaning that if a CEO tells his Wall Street golfing buddy about a pending merger, the buddy and his friends can make a bundle — to the detriment of small, typically middle-class, investors.

That three-judge panel was composed entirely of appointees of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

But both parties have been drinking at the Wall Street trough.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, the financial sector ranked fourth among all industry groups giving to then candidate Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee. In fact, Obama reaped far more in contributions from the Street than did his Republican opponent.

Wall Street also supplies both administrations with key economic officials. The treasury secretaries under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, respectfully, had both chaired Goldman Sachs before coming to Washington.

And before becoming Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner had been handpicked by Rubin to become president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (Geithner is now back on the Street as president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus.)

It’s nice that presidential aspirants are talking about rebuilding America’s middle class.

But to be credible, he (or she) has to take clear aim at the Street.

That means proposing to limit the size of the biggest Wall Street banks;  resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (which used to separate investment from commercial banking); define insider trading the way most other countries do – using information any reasonable person would know is unavailable to most investors; and close the revolving door between the Street and the U.S. Treasury.

It also means not depending on the Street to finance their campaigns.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

More from Commondreams