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Organizing Among Low-Wage Workers

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 05:48

Eduardo Porter had a good piece on the plight of low-wage workers and their efforts to organize with unions. He points out that these workers now receive substantial subsidies from the government (e.g. food stamps) because their pay is low.

Comments (6)Add Comment
Wage Cuts Increase Economic Welfare From Supply Side
written by Last Mover, December 05, 2012 5:36
From the NYT article, this quote:

... real wages of McDonald’s workers in the United States hit about 2.2 Big Macs an hour last year. That’s 15 percent less than in 2000.

This works like any supply side tax cut that pays for itself except it applies to wages. Where individual workers do face a 15% decrease in the real wage rate over a decade, more of them are hired for more hours so everyone is better off. Total wages increase for everyone when real wages decline for individuals because the demand for labor by employers is so price elastic.
written by Russ Davis, December 05, 2012 8:18
Not following.
so we kind of have the German model?
written by pete, December 05, 2012 10:05
I.e., subsidize the employment, instead of paying for unemployment. I think it is preferrable since we get more big macs(aside: have not had one in many many years). With higher wages, less employment on the margin, eh. Some studies find weird results, finding counterintuitive macro effects...higher minimum wages magically means more employment. Kind of hard to argue that logic to a stressed out MacDonald's franchise owner...geee if only I could pay more to my workers, then they could by 3 big macs (only, duh the big macs would cost more, so likely still only able to afford 2.5)!
Mister, We Could Use A Man Like FDR Again
written by Jeffrey Stewart, December 05, 2012 12:13
"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level -- I mean the wages of decent living" (FDR, 1933). -Franklin D. Roosevelt
last mover, where the hell did you get that logic?
written by mel in oregon, December 05, 2012 1:51
probably from gw bush, norquist, rove or romney. they are all just as full of beans as you are.
written by David, December 05, 2012 10:54
"Have you heard the news?
(News? Can't afford a paper!
Can't afford no shoes!)
Get a deal on tape!
Well, well,
Hey lawdy mama,
Can't afford no shoes
Maybe there's a bundle of rags that I could use
Hey anybody,
Can you spare a dime
If you're really hurtin', a nickel would be fine " - lyric by Frank Zappa, 1973. Things haven't changed much.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.