Precarious Work in the Pre-COVID Economy

President Trump’s ability to boast about overseeing an economy in which unemployment reached a 50-year low was short-lived because of the virus-induced economic crisis.

But the true story, as pointed out in an editorial note in the February issue of Monthly Review Magazine, is that the administration’s track record on jobs never matched the rosy public relations platitudes emanating from the White House.

The editorial points out that:

  • wages have remained stagnant even though mainstream economists say pay should go up when the economy is strong
  • newly-created jobs tend to be poorly paid and lack good benefits. In the last three decades, 63 percent of all new production and nonsupervisory jobs have had low wages and insufficient hours.

The factors behind the precariousness of work include a decline in unionism, an historically low labor participation rate, underemployment, the degradation of working conditions, rising inequality, a weak welfare state, job and income loss from free-trade agreements, and structural unemployment.

Noting that even then, the economy was “far from full employment,” the editorial recommends readers take a look at our Jobs for All Manifesto published on MR Online in November 2019.

Monthly Review article link:

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