America: Land of the free, home of the … truck driver? Well, that’s the most common trade in 29 of the 50 states at the moment, and truck driving has been gaining ground over the last 36 years, too. That’s just one trend noted by NPR in a Feb. 5 blog posting on its website, which covers four-year changes in dominant occupations in every state since 1978.
Minimum wage rates will increase in 13 states and five cities next week, providing pay raises to almost 1 million workers.
Ten of the 13 states raise minimum wage annually based on cost-of-living adjustments. Only two operate with the current national rate of $7.25.
The increases are nominal for many – just 10 cents in Arizona, Montana, Ohio, and in Albuquerque, N.M. – but are notably higher in some, such as $1 in New Jersey and almost $6 for SeaTac, Wash.
The increases to take effect on January 1 are:
In addition, statewide minimum wage for California rises from $8 per hour to $9 on July 1, 2014, and grows to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
National minimum wage of $7.25 will be unchanged in the remaining states and municipalities, though, and despite a need for overall increase. Had it increased at national inflationary rates, today’s minimum wage would be $10.74 per hour, according to the National Employment Law Project.
Public rallies and demonstrations to increase the national rate have been ongoing through latter 2013, including fast-food workers and Wal-Mart employees.
Raising minimum wage is broadly supported by the American public, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found.
Sixty-six percent of the U.S. population favors an increase, and to an average in suggested rates of $10.25 per hour. The support is bilateral, too, with majorities of self-identified Democrats and Republicans expressing favor.
Despite bilateral support from the public, Congressional Republicans remain sternly against any increase to minimum wage. Proposing the first increase since 2009, a bill to raise the level to $10.10 per hour, followed by annual increases based on inflation, was defeated, receiving no votes from House Republicans.
Arguments against any increase include claims that it would only result in layoffs; ample studies find that improvements to minimum wage would have no negative effect on employment, however.
It would also be an economic stimulus; a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found that every $1 in increase to minimum wage would result in $2,800 in additional spending by its recipients.
Many other misperceptions – number affected, skill level, age, educational achievement, and employment field – remain present, as well.
Only 3.55 million workers earn minimum wage or less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, constituting only 2.8 percent of all employed Americans.
Half of those earning this level are 25 years of age or older, a quarter are parents, and 42.6 percent have at least some college education, as well.
While dominantly present in the fields of food service and sales, minimum wage is also prevalent in entry levels of skilled occupations, too, including emergency medical technician, income tax preparer, and certified nursing assistant.
In 2012 the American public objected after learning that U.S. Olympic team uniforms – from hats to shoes and all worn in between – were made in China. For athletes who represented the country to wear clothing made in another country was, well, un-American.
A new report by New York Times’ Ian Urbina, though, finds even more unpatriotic purchases: the U.S. government spends $1.5 billion annually on items made overseas.
Uniforms for federal firefighters and law enforcement, souvenir clothing sold by the Smithsonian and others items carrying military logos, and even uniforms worn by particular military units are made at factories in Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
And even though some laws and policies still exist to deter such outsourcing, it seems that few in charge of the relevant purchasing departments know much about it, and don’t seem to care, either.
According to the article:
Federal agencies rarely know what factories make their clothes, much less require audits of them, according to interviews with procurement officials and industry experts. The agencies, they added, exert less oversight of foreign suppliers than many retailers do.
And not only do these U.S. government offices not care if their goods are made outside the U.S., but they also don’t seem to care about the unfair – even dangerous – conditions in which those products are made.
(T)here is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.
Attempts to at least ensure that the products purchased are safely made have been fruitless, too, and due to apparent profit-oriented selfishness.
Labor and State Department officials have encouraged retailers to participate in strengthening rules on factory conditions in Bangladesh — home to one of the largest and most dangerous garment industries. But defense officials this month helped kill a legislative measure that would have required military stores, which last year made more than $485 million in profit, to comply with such rules because they said the $500,000 annual cost was too expensive.
That the Dept. of Defense insists on overlooking life-protecting safety to preserve only one percent in profit doesn’t uphold its stated mission of security and protection, it seems.
Foreign facilities aren’t unsafe to their workers alone, though. They’re dangerous for Americans, with high rates of product recall due to safety violations.
Perhaps worse, they’re also a danger to the U.S. economy. Losing over 2 million jobs during the 2007-2009 recession, unemployment in manufacturing remained as high as 13 percent through early 2010, months after the recession was declared over, and is still at a 6.2 percent level in the last-reported period of November 2013.
The 6.8 percent difference isn’t complete regain, either. Many of those jobs were eliminated, and the workers had to find employment in other industries.
Continuing economic damage to the U.S., those new jobs are paying workers less than they previously earned. While unemployment has notably declined, today’s wages are 6.1 percent less than national average income before the 2007-2009 recession began.
Manufacturing was once the dominant industry in the U.S., employing 19.5 million in 1979. Since then, over a third of those jobs have been lost to overseas facilities, though; only 12 million Americans currently work in this industry.
Through the last century, many laws were created to protect U.S. businesses and employment, including three Buy American Acts that pertained to general and specific product fields.
The first one from 1933 was updated eight years later with the Berry Amendment, which specified that the Dept. of Defense could only purchase uniforms and food items (with other products later added) that are made by American companies throughout all phases of production.
In recent years, though, the federal government has sought continuous loopholes to these job-protecting measures. In 2001, for example, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would exclude particular clothing items from the Berry Amendment; it passed later that year. Fasteners were eliminated from inclusion by the Dept. of Defense in 2007, and in 2008 Congress removed many other metal items and even general off-the-shelf products from the list, too.
The American public is greatly aware of the impacts of job loss to foreign countries; 86 percent agree that U.S. companies are outsourcing jobs simply for lower wages, 95 percent agree that this practice has contributed to unemployment in the United States, and 90 percent think the primary method for economic recovery would be regulations to “keep jobs in America.”
Before they can attempt to correct this in the role of conscious consumers, however, the public will need to return to gainful employment with proper wages.
And to reach that first step, the U.S. government should stop spending its money on foreign-made goods.
What "Right to Work" Means
Annual wages and benefits in RTW states are an average of $1,500 less than for the same job in non-RTW/unionized states (and that's for both union and non-union members). That's an 11.9 percent difference.
So what's the opposite of Right to Work? The Right to Prosper - to earn decent wages with decent benefits that let workers return to and support the economy, which in turn creates more jobs.
The "LiUNA" referred to in the video is the Laborers' International Union of North America.
Wal-mart, Wal-fare, or maybe Wel-mart.
But the name doesn't matter, as long you understand that the store you know as Wal-mart probably carries the most responsibility for welfare and poverty in the U.S.
Check the graphic below that offers more details on how Wal-mart (or Wal-fare) is the biggest freeloader of all time. We're the ones paying for it, and in more ways than one.
(from The Winning Words Project)
How Wal-Mart is devouring the food system
As if the pay and benefits weren't bad enough
Amount Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter says he’ll have to
raise the cost of pizza to cover his employee’s insurance:
11 to 14 cents each
Actual per-pizza cost of insurance if Papa John’s were to
provide insurance to all of its employees:
3.4 to 4.6 cents each
Number of Papa John’s employees:
Number of Papa John’s employees actually covered by insurance:
CEO John Schnatter’s total pay and compensation (2011):
Wages of a Papa John’s delivery driver:
$5.83 to $7.25 per hour
Wages of a Papa John’s assistant manager:
$9.75 per hour
Value of Papa John’s stock on the day Schnatter first made this comment (August 7):
Value of Papa John’s stock today (November 15):
$47.06 (decline of 10.18%)
Quote from Nick Martin, part owner of Nick's Pizza, which already provides insurance to its employees:
"This may level the playing field for us. ... I'd tell Papa John's CEO 'Welcome to the club.'
We’ve battled the whole way giving health insurance to employees
ever since we could afford to do it 9 years ago, as a two-year-old business."
Read employee reviews of the Papa John’s workplace.
(Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Rep. Tim Scott spent this afternoon in a Charleston restaurant to talk with patrons about taxes and energy.
Scott should have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak directly with that restaurant’s employees, however, says his Democratic opponent Bobbie Rose.
“So Scott has decided to be ‘server for a day’ at a local restaurant,” Rose says. “While it’s a flamboyant way to tout his concerns about ‘federal tax policies’ and ‘energy strategy,’ it’s a more appropriate venue to talk about the issues restaurant workers face daily.”
Rose cites a recent report compiled by Restaurant Centers Opportunities United that points out the struggles that hospitality industry workers face, and not only in income and employee rights, but even gender equality, as well.
“These issues,” Rose notes, “include:
Rose’s concerns for South Carolina women employed in this field are well-founded, too.
In South Carolina, almost 125,000 citizens are employed in food service and preparation occupations, and a large majority (57.3 percent) are female.
Those South Carolina female workers in this industry only earn an average of $10,916, however – more than $2,000 less than the men employed in these same positions.
Today’s campaign event only further indicates that the incumbent congressional representative is only in tune with corporations and not with the public, Rose finds.
“Does Tim Scott really believe that cutting corporate taxes is the first thing that comes to mind when these workers think about improving their futures?” she asks.
“We can do better for our working class!”
Scott holds only a 14-percent approval rating on his year-to-date votes on issues relevant to common American households, according to The Middle Class organization.
What's a respectable middle-class income in the U.S. nowadays? About $40,000 year.
How much did the CEO of GE get as bonus in the year of 2010 alone? 100 times as much.
Even worse is how much this General Electric company paid in taxes for that same year of 2010. The nation's largest corporation cleared $14.2 billion worldwide that year. Yes, that's cleared - profited - netted - still had left over after all expenses. And $5.1 billion of that profit was earned inside the United States alone.
So how much did GE pay in U.S. taxes on that $5.1 billion in U.S. profit? Not one U.S. cent. That's right - nothing.
Making it even more sarcastic, General Electric claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion for that same year.
What that widely-apparent disparity in income does to our country is lead it away from the status of democracy, upon which was it first founded, and reduce the United States to a plutocracy. Rule by the wealthy. Forget everybody else.
And wasn't it escape from that same plutocratic oppression that was used as a founding principle of our country?
But now we've got so many politicians (especially the freako Ron Paul) promoting that same concept.
(read about one ongoing protest to the current corporate tax situation HERE)
What might be the future job scene in America? Well, if it keeps the current path of sending our jobs overseas, according to this video, we could wind up only with "jobs that no one in China would do."
Robservations by Rob Groce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.