Monday, September 01, 2003

The Wecovery, 1 

"Wecovery" as in "Weak."

Even the Timesmen get it. David Greenhouse:

Even though the recession ended nearly two years ago, polls show that American workers are feeling stressed and shaky this Labor Day because the nation continues to register month after month of job losses and wages are rising more slowly than inflation.

One factor above all has fueled the insecurity: the nation has lost 2.7 million jobs over the last three years. The recovery has been so weak since the recession ended in November 2001 that the nation's payrolls are down one million jobs from when economic growth resumed.

Indeed, the current economic expansion is the worst on record in terms of job growth. The average length of unemployment, more than 19 weeks, spiked this summer to its highest level in two decades.

"American workers are doing very badly," said Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. "All the trends are in the negative direction. There's high turnover, high instability, a reduction in benefits and a declining loyalty on the part of employers. At the same time, expectations for productivity and quality are going up. It's a bad situation from a worker's standpoint."

And, oh yeah—

Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, said that even though the labor market was weak and real wages were slipping, workers were better off than in the mid-1990's, largely because of the boom in the late 1990's.

"Wages have done very poorly the past couple of years, but wages did very well from 1996 to 2001," Dr. Katz said. "That was the only time they did really well in the last 25 years because of the low unemployment rate and huge growth in productivity."

Hmmm.... Let me see... What party was in power then? And who was President?

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