Tuesday, September 01, 2009
The bad news 'recovery' posted by Richard Seymour
The first set of numbers came from the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. They showed some remarkable facts about (1) US workers' productivity -- the physical quantity of goods and services produced per employed worker, (2) the compensation paid to US workers, and (3) the hours they actually worked. These numbers showed how the economy had changed from the first quarter (January-March) to the second (April-June) of 2009. The average number of paid hours worked per employee fell by 7.6 per cent, but the total output fell only 1.7 per cent. That was because the workers who had not (yet) lost their jobs were fearful, so they worked harder and faster doing some of the jobs previously done by laid-off workers. With fewer employed workers doing more, the BLS reported a gain of 6.4 per cent in the productivity of US labor.
For their harder, faster, and thus 6.4 per cent more productive labor, those still employed saw their money wages rise by only 0.2 percent from the first to the second quarter of 2009. When the BLS took into account the rising prices workers had to pay, their real wages (the goods and services they could actually buy) fell by 1.1 per cent.
When workers produce more for less real wages, the technical term for this is an increase in the rate of exploitation.