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On Wages, The Economist Agrees

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jonathan-tasiniThe other day I wrote about a campaign by the International Trade Union Confederation t push the G20 to make hiking wages   the cornerstone of any policy to create a sustained and healthy global economy. The Economist agrees.

The magazine had a relatively long piece in its September 6th edition (subscription paywall) entitled, “The big freeze: Throughout the rich world, wages are struck”.  After looking at a variety of countries, and pronouncing the situation grim, the last paragraph really is what mattered:

Wages, of course, are not just important to central bankers. Weak pay saps revenue from income tax and social-security contributions, making it harder for governments to mend public finances. The lack of growth in real wages hurts household finances, too, keeping consumers tight-fisted. A healthy and sustained recovery in the rich world will remain elusive until the pay squeeze ends. [emphasis added]

“This blog originally appeared in Workinglife.org on September 10, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://www.workinglife.org/2014/09/10/on-wages-the-economist-agrees/

About the Author: Jonathan Tasini has 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, he created Working Life. He has also written four books: It’s Not Raining, We’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 Today’s Unfair Economy, an average reader’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).


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Global Youth Unemployment Reaches Record Levels

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Image: James ParksThe global economic crisis has been especially bad for young workers. A new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that while youth unemployment has been steadily worsening for more than a decade, the economic crisis caused an explosive increase in the jobless rate for young workers. The report, issued late last week, kicked off the United Nations International Youth Year.

At the end of 2009, 81 million young workers between the ages of 15 and 24 around the world were unemployed—the highest number ever. The overall jobless rate for young workers globally is now 13 percent, the ILO says. Rising youth unemployment is compounded by some 152 million young “working poor” caught in extreme poverty.

In the United States, an AFL-CIO report, “Young Workers: A Lost Decade,” published last fall, showed a massive decline in the economic situation of young workers here over the past 10 years. Among other findings, the survey shows that one-third of young American workers cannot pay their bills.

This high and rising level of youth unemployment globally is a “social time-bomb” that risks damaging the social, economic and political fabric of countries around the world, says Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC):

An entire generation of young people is being left behind, and the consequences of this for society will be severe. Governments have to act urgently to get job-creation moving, by maintaining economic stimulus where it is needed rather than by cutting public expenditure.

Read the ILO report here.

Trade unions in the United States and around the world are pressing governments to adopt policies that focus on creating good jobs now. Burrow says we also must push for specific measures to improve the access of young people to decent jobs and quality education and training.

About the Author: James Parks had his first encounter with unions at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. He has also been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections. Author photo by Joe Kekeris


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