Readers discuss the huge disparity in pay between top executives and most workers.
BARBARA J. PERENIC | DISPATCH Roberta Garber, an assistant vice president of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, said many people who have jobs “are not making above the poverty level or a livable wage.”
Franklin County’s unemployment rate is about 5.9 percent and its poverty rate nearly 18 percent.
18 years of school, and now I’m an over-educated nanny
You’ve probably heard about the array of problems facing millennials as we graduate and attempt to enter the job market. Well, what you’ve been hearing is true.
Education used to be the answer for improving one’s status and expanding opportunities. Now, for the first time in the history of America, it isn’t.(Los Angeles Times / March 28, 2014)
By Emily Koss
March 30, 2014
“Emily, would you please put a bowl of water on the floor so I can drink like a dog?”
It was a sweet and funny request, and I was happy to do it. But it was also a reminder, once again, that I work for a 4-year-old.
You’ve probably heard about the vast array of problems facing my generation as we graduate and attempt to enter the job market. As a 24-year-old recent college grad, I can tell you that what you’ve been hearing is true.
I graduated last May with unpaid internships waiting for me in Mexico, Spain and Nicaragua. Even more exciting, my research proposal had been accepted, and I was all set to go to Namibia for three months of studying baby baboons. I had a passable GPA, a kick-ass resume and a nagging worry that all was for naught.
“To study the social and behavioral sciences is a labor of love,” my professor told our graduating class, “because you aren’t in it for the money!”
And sure enough, after an incredibly frustrating and depressing series of failed attempts to find funding for my research projects, watching my would-be departure dates slip by one at a time, I finally took a job as a nanny.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the little girls I care for beyond reason, and I learn things from them every day. It’s just that this wasn’t what I envisioned for myself as I slogged through 18 years of school.
I’d probably feel worse except that I have so many friends and acquaintances in the same boat. I know a psychology graduate working at Home Depot and a business grad who is a receptionist in a hotel. Several of my fellow anthropology grads work for a catering company.
According to the Pew Research Center, I am part of the first generation since the Depression to have higher levels of poverty and unemployment than the previous generation at the same age. More than a quarter of us still live with our parents, and only 30% think of our current jobs as careers. And yet, we are the best-educated generation in American history.
My best friend, Annie, fantasized throughout college about going to law school and becoming the next Wendy Davis. But after reading the statistics on how many law school graduates don’t find work in the field, the thought of borrowing another $150,000 to pursue a law degree seemed daunting. She landed an unpaid internship at Planned Parenthood, which she liked a lot, but she recently had to quit to make more time for her job that actually pays (marginally) as a preschool teacher.
It used to be that a “day job” was something artists, musicians and writers did while working on their creative projects and waiting for their breaks. Now most of my friends have day jobs. We work to pay the bills but also to support volunteering at things we hope will lead to more satisfying work in the long run.
But even good day jobs are harder to land than they used to be. When I was in high school, I worked at Trader Joe’s. The pay was good, they treated me well and there was plenty of room for promotions and raises. I came home every day happy and tired. Because I hated school, this led to many arguments with my parents about why I needed to do my homework.
“I love Trader Joe’s!” I told them. “I don’t need school. I can just work there forever!”
“You will get bored with Trader Joe’s,” they insisted. “And then what?”
This is how they explained it: If you go to college, you can do whatever you want with your life. You can work at Trader Joe’s if you want, but you’ll have other options too. If you don’t get a college degree, your life will be a series of dead ends.
They thought they were telling the truth. In their experience, and the experience of their parents and grandparents, this had been the case. Education was the answer for improving one’s status and expanding opportunities. And now, for the first time in the history of America, it isn’t. And we, the first generation having to confront this new reality, have no idea how to make ourselves employable.
After graduation, I reapplied at Trader Joe’s, but I didn’t get rehired. Such jobs, which offer benefits and mobility, are highly coveted now, and the competition is intense. And so I work as a nanny.
A few days ago, the 6-year-old sister of my 4-year-old was sitting at the table complaining about having to do her homework. She whined on and on, but I remained firm: “You must study hard,” I said, “so you can grow up to be a nanny!”
Emily Koss is a nanny living in Glendale.
Millennials find job hunt frustrating
For millennials such as Danielle Yenni, finding a post-recession job in their chosen fields is a frustrating job in itself
BARBARA J. PERENIC | DISPATCH Danielle Yenni, 29, who holds a college degree in marketing, hasn’t found a job in that field and works as a waitress at BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse.
A permanent economic slowdown?
By Robert J. Samuelson, Published: March 30
You might compare the U.S. economy to someone who’s recovering from a serious illness. At first, everyone hopes the patient will return to normal. Then it’s gradually realized that the patient suffered permanent damage and will never be the same. So, perhaps, with the economy. Since the Great Recession, the bland (often unstated) premise has been that the economy would ultimately recover in full. Now, some economists question this and argue that the economic crisis created — or exposed — enduring weaknesses. We’re at a turning point. Even when producing at “full capacity,” the economy will grow more slowly than in the past or than had been expected.
If true, this cannot be good. Economic growth serves as a political and social lubricant. It makes public and private goals more affordable and achievable. Slower growth would dampen gains in living standards. It would make it harder to reduce budget deficits without tax increases. It could threaten inflationary bottlenecks, as the economy hits maximum output before attaining “full employment” at, say, 5 percent unemployment. This would complicate the Federal Reserve’s policymaking.
To be fair, there’s no consensus. One prominent dissenter is Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics. In congressional testimony, Zandi said he expects the economy’s growth to accelerate in 2014 to 3 percent and to 4 percent in 2015, up sharply from the 2 percent pace since the recovery’s start. More spending on housing and business plants and equipment will boost growth, he said. Financial conditions are favorable. Households have repaid debt; banks are well-capitalized. Once the economy improves, fears of a growth slowdown will recede like “a passing cloud.”
Economists’ pessimism emerges from their projections of “potential GDP.” GDP (gross domestic product) is the economy’s total output. Potential GDP is an estimate of what could be produced when everyone who wants a job has one and when businesses are operating at maximum capacity. Two factors govern the growth of potential GDP: changes in the number of workers (and time spent on the job) and changes in labor productivity. Productivity means “efficiency” and reflects many influences (technology, worker skills, management quality).
Potential GDP’s growth represents the economy’s speed limit when it’s near peak capacity. Trying to grow faster, it’s argued, will create shortages of workers, goods and services — and raise inflation. Even before the Great Recession, economists had lowered estimates of potential GDP, reflecting the anticipated exit of baby boomers from the labor force. But the recent revisions go beyond this widely predicted shift.
To take one example: Economists at Morgan Stanley cut their estimate of potential GDP growth from 2.5 percent annually to 2 percent. This compares with potential GDP’s actual annual growth of 3.2 percent from 1991 to 2001. These changes may seem small, but they’re huge when repeated year after year. Consider the Congressional Budget Office’s recent re-estimate of potential GDP for 2017. The new estimate reduces GDP by 7 percent from one made in 2007. That’s equivalent to $1.5 trillion in lost wages, salaries, dividends and taxes. Although these forecasts are only educated guesses, they are increasingly downbeat.
Possible explanations abound. The economic crisis may have degraded — for the foreseeable future — the economy’s psychology and mechanics. Labor force growth has dropped, as some of the discouraged unemployed take early retirement or simply stop looking for a job. Cautious companies have curbed their investment spending; this threatens productivity growth. Another possibility is that the economy’s slowdown started before the crisis but was obscured by the artificial stimulus caused by the credit bubble.
Other theories are unrelated to the crisis. Economist Robert Gordon of Northwestern University has argued that, since the early 1970s, technological advances have lagged and that the Internet boom of the 1990s was only a brief interruption. Naturally, productivity growth has suffered. Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps of Columbia University, in his book “ Mass Flourishing,” identifies a clash of values between what’s required for faster economic growth and what’s desired for personal security.
“Increasingly, the processes of a nation’s innovation — the topsy-turvy of creation, the frenzy of development, and painful closings,” he writes, are seen as something “that we are unwilling to endure any longer.”
The issue is whether the financial crisis and Great Recession mark a significant break with America’s dynamic economic past. Our ability to influence technology, business practices and worker skills is, at best, limited. Or are today’s low expectations a fad: a pessimism bubble that will pop on the first contact with faster growth? The slowdowns in employment and productivity may be consequences, not causes, of weak economic growth. In this view, the resumption of faster growth would automatically improve both. Is the patient still healing — or will injuries persist? On the answer hangs a great deal.
In a paper they wrote last year, Carl Benedikt Frey of Oxford University’s Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, and Michael A. Osborn, an Oxford engineering professor, broke down the U.S. economy into 702 distinct occupations and classified those occupations by the probability of their computerization over the next few decades. They concluded that 47 percent of U.S. workers have a high probability of seeing their jobs automated over the next 20 years, including in transportation (where the driverless car has become a reality), manufacturing and retail sales. They offer no particular policy suggestions to remedy this cataclysm, save that “high-skill and high-wage” jobs are the least likely to be swept away and that workers, accordingly, need “to acquire creative and social skills” that computers are unlikely to master until a more distant time.
Why America’s poisonous politics makes ‘Market Leninism’ an attractive alternative
“Market Leninism” has become the biggest challenge to our society, writes John Avlon. And the problem with this alternative to Western governance is that it promises prosperity at the expense of individual freedom – while dismissing democracy as ineffective
How capitalism enriches the few rather than the many