Thursday, October 3, 2013

Public sector cuts leave women with low waged jobs

Source: NWLC
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

In August, the 6.3% jobless rate for women 20 years or older was the lowest since December 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  We know that these figures are conservative, as is the 7.1 figure for men, but they do count for something. 

The problem is that the vast majority of new jobs for women are low waged.  Waiting tables, home health care, retail and other low paid work traditionally held for women is where the work is.  Business Week this week* points out that recent women university graduates cannot find work and are being forced to take whatever they c an. The recovery, when it comes to jobs for both men and women, is a weak one.

According to the NationalWomen’s Law Center, (NWLC) 60% of the increase in women’s employment is in jobs earning less than $10 an hour.  The corresponding figure for men is 20%. All that burning the midnight oil studying is paying off. 

“The quality of jobs is an increasing concern for policy makers and economists because it affects income and wage disparities” Business Week points out.  But if it were a genuine concern, why would these policy makers, which means the politicians in the two Wall Street Parties, preside over the loss of hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs?  The savaging of public education by Democrats and Republicans; Obama’s friend Rahm Immanuel plan to close 150 schools for example, is not only devastating for workers and our children, particularly for people of color, it eliminates relatively decent paying jobs that often go to women.

According to the BLS, women have lost 444,000 public sector jobs in the last four years and men have lost 290,000. It’s no surprise then that food services and bars have added 354,000 jobs this year alone.  “The place jobs have grown the most has been in these parts of the economy that women have traditionally filled more easily.” Joan Entmacher, of the NWLC tells Business Week.

Women still earn 77% of what men earn.  The crisis of capitalism is always felt more acutely among those groups that have been discriminated in the past, not simply by the bosses but also in the traditional workers’ organizations.  But, make no bones about it, the Great Recession has dealt a blow to a huge section of the US working and middle class including males and white workers.

Living standards are deteriorating as corporations hold huge cash piles that they refuse to invest in production and US billionaires and coupon clippers on Wall Street rake in the cash. No one can deny that US society has what BW once called, The Third Deficit, a crumbling infrastructure but public expenditure is not an attractive option to investors as it is money out and also crowds out private capital and opportunities for profit making. The private owners of capital, what is actually a collective product, will not throw it in to socially useful production if the chances for profit making are not there and the risks too great.  Capital likes stability and hates obstacles.

US capitalism is in an economic and political crisis also reflected in its reduced influence on the world stage despite spending billions of taxpayer money on predatory wars and the building of installations throughout the world necessary to maintain its dominance.

The Wall Street Journal once headlined a piece “Why No Outrage”.  The reasons are many, not least the violent nature of the US state apparatus, the imprisoning of more than two million workers, the power of the 1%’s mass media and the refusal of the leaders of organized labor to mobilize and offensive of our own. The radical tradition of US workers and exploited has been driven deep in to the conscious of the US working class. But this history will be reborn as workers are forced by the 1%’s austerity agenda to fight back.

If we think about it, the most powerful economy and capitalist class that the world has known to date cannot feed or house its citizens. Not only can it not eliminate poverty, it cannot curb it. It cannot eliminate sexism, racism or inequality.  It cannot provide millions of people with basic education, health care or productive work.

The outrage is there though; it simply hasn’t yet taken organizational form.

* A Girl Can be Anything She Wants as Long as She Wants to be a Waitress

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