• print
  • decrease text sizeincrease text size
    text

Declining union strength means rising economic inequality, this week in the war on workers

Share this post

Union membership continuing to tick down year by year doesn’t just affect unions. It leads to rising economic inequality, the Economic Policy Institute reminds us. The share of workers covered by a union bargaining agreement is less than half of what it was in 1979, and “Research shows that this de-unionization accounts for a sizable share of the growth in inequality over that period—around 13–20 percent for women and 33–37 percent for men.”

That means a huge loss for working people: “Applying these shares to annual earnings data reveals that working people are now losing on the order of $200 billion per year as a result of the erosion of union coverage over the last four decades—with that money being redistributed upward, to the rich.”

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on February 1, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

Share this post

More Than Half of Elders, and 60% of Older Women, Face Economic Insecurity

Share this post

Laura ClawsonMore than half of people age 65 and older face the prospect of not having enough money to meet basic daily expenses while staying in their homes and communities, a new analysis (PDF) from Wider Opportunities for Women finds. We’re talking basic necessities here—renting a one-bedroom apartment or having a modest mortgage, basic food, health care, and transportation, and just $265 in miscellaneous monthly expenses for a single person.

Within the 52 percent of all elders struggling to get by, though, there’s a big gender gap—60 percent of women compared with 41 percent of men are economically insecure. The fact that women live longer and have more years to spend down their savings doesn’t help. But that’s not all. In retirement, as during their working years, women have lower incomes than men: “Elder men studied report typical annual incomes that are nearly 75% higher than the typical elder woman’s income ($24,300 compared to $14,000).” Women are more likely to be dependent on Social Security, and receive smaller Social Security payments than men. And, as in so many other things, women of color face greater struggles than white women: “[E]lder African-American women report median annual incomes of $12,000; both Asian and Hispanic women report median annual incomes that are less than one-half of the general male population’s median incomes at $10,100 and $9,600, respectively.”

These numbers underscore the incredible importance of Social Security, which provides, on average, 77 percent of older women’s income. They also raise a terrifying prospect: Pensions are becoming less common, but here we see how crucial they’ve been in keeping some seniors out of economic insecurity. What happens to a generation that’s forced to rely on Social Security, or whatever’s left of that after the various catfood commissions are done weakening it, and whatever savings people can cobble together despite stagnating wages and stock market crashes?

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on March 29, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.


Share this post

Subscribe For Updates

Sign Up:

* indicates required

Recent Posts

Forbes Best of the Web, Summer 2004
A Forbes "Best of the Web" Blog

Archives

  • Tracking image for JustAnswer widget
  • Find an Employment Lawyer

  • Support Workplace Fairness

 
 

Find an Employment Attorney

The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases. Please note that Workplace Fairness does not operate a lawyer referral service and does not provide legal advice, and that Workplace Fairness is not responsible for any advice that you receive from anyone, attorney or non-attorney, you may contact from this site.