The Cost of Labor
Oct 22, 2021
There is a supply chain issue in this country being amplified by a shortage of laborers. It’s not that there aren’t laborers available. Instead, it’s that they want a decent wage with decent benefits and maybe, just maybe an acknowledgment of their contribution to the success of a company.
We have a serious issue of income inequality. Most economists pinpoint the 1980s as the point at which the disparities started becoming prevalent. It’s no coincidence that coincides with the fall or organized labor. Between 1979 and 2019, real wage growth of blue collar workers has grown less than 9%. By comparison, wages have grown over 41% for upper management. At some point, workers were destined to say, “enough”. Enter Covid.
Throughout the pandemic, many of us have adapted to working from home. Meetings have moved to Zoom. We’ve figured out ways of being productive without being in an office. But there are front line workers who have continued going to work to keep the economy from going off a cliff. Truck drivers had to transport goods. We needed people stocking shelves in grocery stores. Delivery drivers became in high demand. Teachers were being asked to go back to schools before vaccines were available. While the rest of us were pecking away on computers from the comfort of our couches and wearing our Lulu pants, lower wage earners were quite literally being asked to risk their lives to fill low paying jobs that are crucial to keeping the economy moving along.
Now, with ships lined up offshore for miles and supply chain crunches abound, politicians on one side are blaming the current administration for the gridlock. It’s ironic. The same party that supported gutting unions and launched income inequality now wants to point fingers and place blame on others for the mess they made.
Maybe it’s high time we begin acknowledging the crucial role labor plays in our economic health. Perhaps, we can finally accept the idea that trickle down economics doesn’t work. It creates a facade of a growing economy but that growth is the result of a limited few people accumulating a much greater share of wealth.
What we’ve been doing the last forty years has brought us to this point. We’ve caused economic divisions that have morphed into ideological tensions. You don’t need glasses to see where this is headed. If we want to address the supply chain issues, which are truly nothing more than a symptom of the problem, let’s begin with fairer wages and see what happens.
Written by Dylan Ratigan and Josh Fabian
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