by Joye Barksdale | August 02, 2012
Our economy generates fewer good jobs today than 30 years ago due to “policy decisions rooted in politics.”
There are fewer “good jobs” today than there were 30 years ago, and a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research blames the decline on workers’ deteriorating bargaining power.
Researchers John Schmitt and Janelle Jones write in “Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?” that the usual explanation for the decrease in good jobs is to blame the victims: You’ll often hear analysts say workers’ skills have not kept up with the pace of technological change. But that reasoning doesn’t hold up because workers are actually better educated today than they were 30 years ago.
“Instead, at every age level, workers with four years or more of college are actually less likely to have a good job now than three decades ago,” Schmitt and Jones write.
The study defines a good job as one that pays at least $37,000 a year, has employer-provided health insurance and an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
The share of private sector workers who are unionized has fallen from 23 percent in 1979 to less than 8 percent today. At the same time, many jobs in state and local government have been outsourced to companies that pay lower wages and provide fewer benefits. Lastly, the researchers find that the nation’s “dysfunctional immigration system” has pushed pay down for low-wage workers and left many immigrants “at the mercy of their employers.”
“In our view, these policy decisions, rooted in politics, are in the main explanations for the decline in the economy’s ability to generate good jobs.”
The study makes it clear that politicians who are attacking collective bargaining and pushing right-to-work laws are not just stealing workers’ voices; they’re doing long-term damage to the economy.