Feature

Editor's letter: Struggling worker bees

While we worker bees were becoming more productive than ever, the economy underwent a fundamental transformation.

Let the good times roll! Stocks are booming, with the Dow Jones industrial average this week climbing to an all-time high. Corporate profits are soaring, and companies have piled up a record $1.4 trillion in available cash. It is, The New York Times said this week, “a golden age” for corporate profits. So are you feeling flush? Pocketing a fat raise? Didn’t think so. While we worker bees were becoming more productive than ever, the economy underwent a fundamental transformation. A rising tide now lifts only some boats. Globalization and technology have made everything cheaper, more abundant, and instantly available, but they’ve also made you and your labor less valuable. Raises have become…unnecessary. Since 2008, corporate earnings have risen 20 percent a year, while worker salaries have been flat. Even when companies expand, they don’t hire new workers. United Technologies, for example, has raised its annual revenues by $15 billion since 2005, but cut 4,000 workers last year and will cut 3,000 more this year. “Productivity,” the CEO explained. 

Ah, “productivity’’—a fine-sounding word. In practice, it means 11-hour days, working on weekends, skipped vacations. In practice, says a new survey by the American Psychological Association, it means that more than half the U.S. workforce feels underpaid and unappreciated, and a third suffers symptoms of chronic, work-induced stress. But how can a worker bee complain? Millions of unemployed Americans would gladly take their jobs for less pay, and so would millions of telecommuters in India, China, and Brazil. So let us briefly pause to marvel at the results of our productivity, and then get back to work. There is more honey to be made. 

William Falk

Recommended

Group of 7 pledges almost $20B in aid for Ukraine
G7 officials discuss Ukraine aid package.
cash infusion

Group of 7 pledges almost $20B in aid for Ukraine

Biden's trip to Asia, explained
President Biden.
Briefing

Biden's trip to Asia, explained

Monkeypox comes to America
A monkeypox warning.
Briefing

Monkeypox comes to America

The global movement to give nature 'rights'
Scales.
Briefing

The global movement to give nature 'rights'

Most Popular

Chris Wallace to anchor show on CNN after CNN+ collapse
Chris Wallace
who's broadcasting Chris Wallace?

Chris Wallace to anchor show on CNN after CNN+ collapse

Letter from a demoralized Pennsylvania voter
PA candidates.
Opinion

Letter from a demoralized Pennsylvania voter

The most interesting loss in yesterday's primaries
Madison Cawthorn.
Briefing

The most interesting loss in yesterday's primaries