Many U.S. workers don’t have jobs—nearly 13 million. Less known, however, is that many more don’t have good jobs—fewer than one-quarter of America’s workforce, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The center defines a good job as one that pays at least $18.50 an hour, or $37,000 per year, equal to the inflation-adjusted earnings of the typical male worker in 1979. A good job also includes employer-provided health insurance and a retirement plan (click on chart at left to expand).
The lack of available good jobs is not new. As CEPR finds, compared with 1979, the U.S. economy has lost about one-third (28 percent to 38 percent) of its capacity to generate good jobs.
We asked economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), to expand upon recent reports that show a marked improvement in the nation’s jobs picture. In January, 243,000 jobs were created and unemployment dropped significantly for some of the hardest-hit workers. Baker’s intepretation of the data presents a still-mixed economic picture, but one bright point stands out clearly: President Obama’s support of the U.S. auto industry has been key to improving job creation for America’s workers. Be sure to pick up a copy of Baker’s latest book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.
A much-discussed report in the Sunday New York Times on why iPhones are made in China highlights the transition of Apple guru Steve Jobs who, a few years after Apple began building the Macintosh in 1983, bragged it was “a machine that is made in America.” Today, millions of Apple products like iPhones, iPads and Kindles are made in China sweatshops like Foxconn.