Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! Robert Samuelson asks a pertinent question today: “Where did our raises go?” He’s right to ask:

Since the start of the century, blue-collar wages have gone up a dismal 0.6 percent per year, adjusted for inflation. Over the past two years they’ve gone up… zero percent.

Samuelson would like us to believe this is because of spiraling health care costs: employers are paying so much more for health care benefits that they can’t afford to pay us any more in actual wages. Anything is possible, I suppose, but as you all know, the BLS keeps track of something called the ECI, or Employer Cost Index, which tracks the total average cost of employing somebody: wages, benefits, office space, payroll taxes, etc. Naturally this means they track the cost of health care benefits, and since they do that there’s no reason not to break it out separately and let everyone see it. And they do:

As you can see, this matches several other charts I’ve posted over the past few years. Health care costs have subsided a lot since the early aughts and are barely growing at all these days. In fact, the employer cost of health care has been essentially flat since the end of the recession.

It’s true that corporations are doing well these days, with healthy profits and strong growth. It’s also true that they aren’t giving most of their employees much in the way of raises. There’s a reason for that, but health care ain’t it.

Happy Labor Day.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate