Felix Salmon

Wage deflation charts of the day

NELP, the National Employment Law Project, has taken a detailed look at what happened to wages during the recovery — specifically, between 2009 and 2012. They looked at the annual Occupational and Employment Statistics for three years — 2007, 2009 and 2012 — and created a list of wages for 785 different occupations. They then split those occupations into five quintiles, according to income; the lowest quintile made $9.49/hr, on average, last year, while the highest quintile averaged $40.23/hr.

Chart of the day: The long decline of labor

2012-13-1w.gif

This chart comes from Margaret Jacobson and Filippo Occhino at the Cleveland Fed, and it’s reasonably terrifying — yet another one of those charts where the trend is down and to the right, and where it’s only gotten worse since the end of the recession.

Can unions become relevant again?

Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld* have an impassioned plea in Foreign Affairs for the return of unions as a political and economic force. There’s no doubt of a very strong connection between the decline of unions, on the one hand, and the rise of inequality, on the other — and as inequality slowly tears this country apart, the need for a force that could bring the majority of people together has never been greater.

International labor mobility datapoint of the day

One of the main reasons for the euro experiment failing is the obvious fact that the eurozone doesn’t have a common language. An optimal currency area needs labor mobility — areas without jobs need to provide workers for the areas with demand for them. But it’s hard to get a good job in Germany if you don’t speak German. And so something quite astonishing is going on:

It’s time to get working on labor mobility

One of the problems with the news cycle is that perennial issues — problems and solutions both — tend to get ignored in favor of things which have changed in the last few hours or days or weeks. As a result, when it comes to the global economic crisis — the thing which came to the world’s attention in 2008 and which no amount of Panglossian dreaming of V-shaped recoveries can wish away — one of the key potential solutions has been left all but ignored from the outset of the crisis through the present day.

Privatizing Wisconsin

Ed at Gin and Tacos picked up on a particularly audacious section of the Wisconsin budget-repair bill yesterday: the governor can sell off any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants he likes, at any price, to anybody he wants, without any kind of auction or bid-solicitation process, and such a sale would be defined as being in the best interest of the state and to comply with criteria for certifying such a transaction.

What will replace unions?

Jim Surowiecki has an excellent column this week on the declining influence, and increasing unpopularity, of labor unions:

What bankers can learn from arc-welder manufacturers

The WSJ today gives a surprisingly favorable review to Spark, by Frank Koller, a book extolling the virtues of Cleveland manufacturer Lincoln Electric and its no-layoffs policy:

How the Teamsters successfully played the CDS market

The fight between capital and labor has been a bit lopsided of late, so I’m quite happy to see that the Teamsters seem to have scored a real win from their latest PR campaign against Goldman Sachs.