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tax cuts, check; Profits, check; high stock prices, check; Wage increases … well, the workers have to do well

I once worked with a guy who showed a dry sense of humor. Where other office desks identified their residents with uniform insignia bearing their names, his emblem was both boastful and shameful.

Read it, "Valued Employee."

I bet his paycheck did not support the claim. 19659003] Some people can measure their value in job promotions or the personal satisfaction of well-executed tasks. But by the way, the yardstick of what covers the rent is to pay for the food and keep the children in shoes – US currency, good for all debts, public and private.

Self-realization gurus be damned. We are there for the money. And we get a shortage, mostly by design and not by chance.

Where the government could help is often prevented. It has paved the way for industry consolidation with slippery antitrust enforcement. The average size of public companies in the US has tripled in the last 20 years, giving employers the upper hand over the work. Agencies and courts that once provided space for unions to establish and grow are now more likely to undermine the power ̵

1; and voice – of work. Technology forces workers to improve their skills, but programs that help them remain stingy. And those who go their own way through colleges or trade schools often end up with debts that have been at stake for decades.

President Donald Trump is thinking about unparalleled tax cuts, record stock prices, unsurpassed corporate profits and unprecedented employment. Pay rises? Well, the workers have to do well. Corporate America has provided $ 437 billion in tax relief for share repurchases. (Once again, congratulations to the wealthy.) The money invested in share repurchases was 37 times what workers received in one-time bonuses and pay increases. (Enjoy your crumbs, wage slaves.)

In fact, some economists see no problem in wage stagnation. Your advice: Measure "Total Compensation," not paychecks. What about the value a worker receives through paid leave, sickness benefits, pensions and health insurance?

Yes, what about it? Corporate America has given up on traditional retirement plans faster than a parakeet that puffs out feathers. In their place: nothing. Or 401 (k) plans that shift the entire risk to employees. Many companies are now withdrawing sick leave from vacation periods. Bad holidays were also a practical way to cut costs.

Every year, revised company health plans present employees with higher deductibles, copays and premiums. The health benefits as a percentage of labor costs have been falling since 2014. The workers take the lead.

Want to know where wages are? Nowhere.

waiting. That is not true.

Last year, the average hourly wages of production employees fell, fell or fell after adjusting for inflation. Strange result for workers in the age of Trump, the "Only I Can Fix It" president.

For all wage and salary workers, wages did not keep up with historically low inflation rates. After the end of the Great Recession, wages fell for five years. Only since 2016 has wage development accelerated somewhat, got under way and hunted slightly ahead of consumer prices.

By contrast, US post-tax profits recovered in the second quarter of 2009, leading to one of Wall Street's longest bull markets.

What a wonderful economy we enjoy – except millions who rely on paychecks, rather than trust funds, stock portfolios and income tax giveaways big enough to buy one or two new Mercedes.

A confluence of forces converges work is running stiff, even as capital owners thrive

Educational disparities, technological change and the diminishing power of unions are high on the list. Globalization deserves to be blamed, but not as much as the unfair tariff enthusiasts claim

The gap between paying high school graduates and those with higher or higher degrees has never been greater. The US Department of Labor reported last year that early school leavers paid 482 to 26 percent less on average than school leavers. Workers with a bachelor's degree or higher have earned $ 1,193.

People who did not find work because of insufficient education receive no interviews.

Before I was born, my mother responded to a "search for help" advertisement promising to be a well-paid, fascinating job. Joseph Pulitzer II, like his famous father before him, lost his eyesight and the former publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was looking for someone to read to him.

The ad failed to mention that Pulitzer wanted to have a college degree – a qualification my mother had ruled out but at the time also would have eliminated half of the radio announcers, actors and TV presenters in the nation.

That was more than 60 years ago. Since then, employers have refined the dark art of examining candidates, refining and lifting obstacles to unexpected places. Hotels desk staff with degrees in "hospitality services." Host families looking for chefs to deal with culinary degrees. Secretaries – now called "executive assistants" – find that a sheepskin in art or literature gave them an interview, even though it did not help them to do their job.

Where are the government programs to keep children in high school and college enrollment enrollment? Good luck to find her. They are small, grubby and usually painfully underfunded.

More Americans than ever get higher education, but a closer look at the numbers is not encouraging. Most recently, more than four in ten white workers had a bachelor's degree in 2016, as did 60 percent of Asians. But other minorities? Only 28 percent of blacks and 20 percent of Hispanics had such degrees.

It does not require any special skills to mow a lawn or cut a hedge, but landscapers today wear computers to show customers how their lawns would look like upgrades. Carpenters not only build cupboards, they use laptops to draw pictures of planned kitchen changes. Computer aversion is a recipe for a dead-end job or no work at all.

Some barriers to wage development are more subtle. Recent research, co-authored by Fatih Guvenen, an economist with the University of Minnesota, suggests that companies are increasingly diverting workers to skills.

An accountant or HR specialist could have joined a firm and become a senior executive. But companies increasingly hire external consultants to keep the books or manage HR. Being confined to consulting firms where all have similar skills leaves little room for promotion – and wage increases are contained.

The decline of the unions also leads to sluggish wage increases.

Trade unions account for only about 10 percent of the US workforce, barely more than half of 1983's share. Weak enforcement of labor laws has helped companies combat trade union efforts. Previous and upcoming legal proceedings threaten to undermine the ability of unions to engage in Congress or to support work-friendly candidates.

It is true that efforts have been made in recent years to counteract the power of companies. Be witness to the urge for a "living wage" for low income earners who struggle to pay for necessities.

Or calls for an end to the "non-competition" clauses that prevent even short-term cooks from switching to new employers who promise higher wages

Against the background of many shortcomings in education policy and labor laws, take note: Trump recently announced a plan to merge the US Department of Education and the US Department of Labor. For "merge," read "resize."

The two departments have only one thing in common: their missions are to improve Americans in an increasingly competitive world. Ideally, to help the "have-nots" join the "possessor".

Enter another Trump innovation: Trade War. While foreign competition has cost American jobs in recent decades, "globalization" – the integration of supply chains and cross-border product manufacturing – has promoted the job security of many American workers.

Blocking tariff trade will certainly destroy more jobs. And if history is a clue, even US companies that call themselves "winners" will not share much of the rewards with the workers.

In a nation that now has more vacancies than applicants, economists have been waiting to see companies pay higher wages. And wait. And you wait.

The 2018 elections would be the time to vote for candidates who support rather than undermine equal opportunities and pro-labor policies.

In the meantime, sociologists advised companies on the way Attracting and retaining workers increases job satisfaction and increases employee praise. You know, describe each one as a "valued employee"


An editor in a newspaper I once worked in went to a reporter and announced loudly, "Quality work this morning!" Shamelessly, the author replied: "How about a good payment?"

Mike Meyers is a Minneapolis author and former business reporter for The Star Tribune.

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