Numbers sometimes tell a story. Today, itâ€™s 63 million. 63 million is the only number you can remember to explain to the dim politicians and â€śanalystsâ€ť who just donâ€™t understand why the global economy is stumbling along. Itâ€™s simple math. 63 million is the projected jobs gap around the world by 2018 just for the G20 countries. And, so, yes the dire situation for workers is much, much, much worse because the 63 million jobs gap is only for G20 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union). Iâ€™m going to come to say more here in a moment. But, remember these five key points: Tens of millions of people have essentially zero prospects for decent work in the next 5-10 years. They have zero prospects for work even though productivity is racing along just fine. They have zero prospects for decent work because governments are not doing enough. They have zero prospects for decent work because a bigger slice of the pie is not going to workers but to elites and corporate treasuries. They have zero prospects for decent work because corporations just donâ€™t care. Where does this all come from? I happened to be re-reading a presentation made by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, to the recent G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting(yes, you can say: Tasini, you have to get out more).
Ryder had some important and revealing charts to make clear how truly bad the situation is. A bottom line:
“Despite a modest economic recovery in 2013-4, economic growth is expected to remain below trend over the foreseeable future. The G20 jobs gap in 2012 was about 55 million. The ILO estimates that the gap will continue to widen until 2018, reaching 63 million that year.”
You basically get the point from the chartâ€“the higher trend line shows where jobs should have been, the lower blue trend line shows what can be expected (and you can see the sharp drop from the crisis).
This is a bit deceptive because it doesnâ€™t tell the whole story: the spread between the crisis level and projected jobs level, in my opinion, should say, in part, that lower wages (slave labor) was a big attraction to corporations to stick around in developing countries. Still, as Ryder says:
“In the emerging G20 countries, jobs gaps are not as wide as an industrialized countries but the prospect of closing the gaps in the next five years is not very promising under current growth trends.”
Then, there are three other graphs that tell the story of depression and robbery. First, look at this one:
The developing countriesâ€“the red lineâ€“had higher percentage growth because their workers were coming from slave-like, poverty wagesâ€“but still you can see the deep dive there, as well. And when it hits poorer people in that dramatic fashion, that translates into hunger. The green line had actual negative numbers in some spots but, overall, pretty much nowhere. So, duh. I mean, seriously, to the morons who claim to be economists and, then, are â€śanalystsâ€ť: why is it so hard to understand that when wages arenâ€™t going up, people donâ€™t have money to spend? And where is the money going? Not to workers. The chart below illustrates the share of economic activityâ€“Gross Domestic Productâ€“that is going to workersâ€¦and itâ€™s in steep decline.
As Ryder says, this isnâ€™t a new story:
“This is a long-term structural problem, a â€ślegacy vulnerabilityâ€ť which was revealed by the crisis but has been decades in the making. Its persistence over recent decades demonstrates that it is a problem that wonâ€™t go away on its own; it must be addressed by specific policies. And it is a problem affecting nearly all G20 economies, both current account surplus and deficit countries.”
But, it makes an even bigger problem greater because of the lack of jobs.
Now, it isnâ€™t because workers arenâ€™t more productive:
The blue line shows that weâ€™re working our asses off and the red line shows how little we get for our work. I pointed this out recently when I criticized the pathetic $10.10-an-hour federal minimum wage campaign is far too low and argued, based on productivity, that it should be $20-an-hour. Now, what does all this mean? To repeat: Tens of millions of people have essentially zero prospects for decent work in the next 5-10 years.
They have zero prospects for work even though productivity is racing along just fine.
They have zero prospects for decent work because governments are not doing enough.
They have zero prospects for decent work because a bigger slice of the pie is not going to workers but to elites and corporate treasuries.
They have zero prospects for decent work because corporations just donâ€™t care.
This blog originally appeared in WorkingLife.org on September 30, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://www.workinglife.org/2014/09/30/63-million/.
About the author Jonathan Tasini: On any given day, I think like a political-union organizer or a writer â€” or both. Iâ€™ve done the traditional press routine including The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Business Week, Playboy Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. One day, back when blogs were just starting out, I created Working Life. I used to write every day but sometimes there just isnâ€™t something new to say so I cut back to weekdays, with an occasional weekend post when it moves me. Iâ€™ve also written four books: Itâ€™s Not Raining, Weâ€™re Being Peed On: The Scam of the Deficit Crisis (2010 and, then, the updated 2nd edition in 2013); The Audacity of Greed: Free Markets, Corporate Thieves and The Looting of America (2009); They Get Cake, We Eat Crumbs: The Real Story Behind Todayâ€™s Unfair Economy, an average readerâ€™s guide to the economy (1997); and The Edifice Complex: Rebuilding the American Labor Movement to Face the Global Economy, a critique and prescriptive analysis of the labor movement (1995).