The rise of the part-time and disposable employment army: Record number of people now employed in transient labor positions while good paying jobs remain stuck in the mud.
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The headline employment numbers present a glamorous picture of the economy but one that is not based on reality. After all, you have over 94 million Americans not in the labor force and this growing army of people is helping to keep the unemployment rate low. And for a growing number of Americans those in the actual workforce, many are being stuck in part-time jobs or are part of the low wage service sector economy. A large number of young Americans graduating with back breaking levels of debt and degrees are finding jobs such as baristas at Starbucks or working the checkout lines at Target. The wages earned here are simply not going to go far enough to cover the massive $1.3 trillion in student debt outstanding. We have traded good paying jobs for bread and circus jobs. Why bread and circus jobs? Because the current economy is largely designed to distract people into mindless consumption while the middle class slowly disappears through the fingers of Americans.
The growing disposable workforce
The latest employment numbers continue to show a trend where low paying jobs dominate the landscape. The system has gotten rather efficient in this regard. The start of the year showed an incredibly volatile stock market despite this “fantastic” jobs report. Little was reported on how wages were stagnant of course.
If you work part-time but want full-time work you are considered employed at least when it comes to the headline numbers. And we are at a record level of part-time employment:
This is an interesting recovery. One can say this has been a part-time recovery because a large portion of growth has occurred in this segment of the workforce. The part-time workforce has soared by 14.5 percent since the recession ended. In contrast, the population is up 5 percent over this same period of time.
These are Americans working in positions that are very likely paying lower wages with little to no benefits. This goes in line with the destruction of retirement pathways for the working class. Take a look at the growing number of Americans working in the food industry:
With this kind of recovery, it doesn’t hurt to drown your sorrows with alcohol. But take a look at the goods producing side of the economy:
Back in 2000 we had over 24 million Americans working in this part of the economy with higher wages. Today we are at 19.6 million – 16 years later and with a much larger population. Why does this matter? Because these are jobs that pay upwards of $50,000 per year and account for a large portion of middle class wages. So it should be no surprise that only recently we find out that the middle class is now a minority in this country.
And by the way, this doesn’t count the over 48 million Americans in poverty:
These are people relying on food stamps or other government assistance just to get by. In large part wages are not increasing because there is an army of people not working to draw from. Productivity gains continue to funnel up to a small portion of the population while the working class is utterly destroyed. The Fed and all the bailouts were designed to maintain the rentier system in place. Did you think the bailouts were for you? Nearly 10 years later after the market started entering into the Great Recession, we find ourselves with no true “middle class” and wealth at the top more disproportionate than ever. We enter 2016 with the worst stock market opening week on record and with volatility off the charts. As we discussed in an earlier article, Americans are going to feel a lot poorer in 2016.