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Reich, making employment figures meaningful

More jobs, that’s good. By the way, what do they pay?

ASK THIS | March 06, 2011

The press dutifully reports jobs-gained, jobs-lost figures. But that’s only part of the story – and too many reporters and editors miss the rest of it. As Robert Reich points out, unemployment may decline, but so will pay and benefits of most Americans – they are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.

By John Hanrahan

Robert Reich has done something that the mainstream news media rarely do -- make the jobs-gained, jobs-lost figures meaningful. And it's not a pretty picture.

I didn't check the newspapers of the last few days, but NPR and the networks all dutifully reported that unemployment was down, and a good number of jobs were created and this was more room for optimism, blah-blah-blah.

As I do every month, I screamed back: But what kind of jobs were those? $10 an hour? Less? $15? $20? More? And how do these new jobs compare to the jobs lost? Reich answers the question. If the news media would just break out of their formulaic reporting of economic figures and make those numbers mean something, we just might get a truer picture of the country's economic present and future.
After making several other good points about U.S. workers and unions, Reich concludes his column: "At this rate, the unemployment rate will continue to decline. But so will the pay and benefits of most Americans. Conservative economists have it wrong. The underlying problem isn't that so many Americans have priced themselves out of the global/high-tech labor market. It's that they're getting a smaller and smaller share of the American pie."


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