From jobs to wages, workers face effects of capitalist crisis

By Brian Williams
October 30, 2023

Facts and figures put a lie to the claims being made by the Joseph Biden administration and his boosters in the liberal capitalist media that aim to puff up his reelection bid by saying job opportunities are expanding and prospects look bright for the U.S. economy under his stewardship. But the small print shows what working people already know: We face a growing social crisis today.

“Since I’ve taken office, we’ve created 13.9 million new jobs,” boasted Biden Oct. 6. “We have the highest share of working-age Americans in the workforce in 20 years.”

The president was touting a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that 336,000 jobs were created in September. But if you look behind that number, full-time  employees actually fell 22,000 that month. Bosses instead hired 151,000 part-time workers, with less pay, benefits and no job security. This made up the bulk of the month’s job “increase.” Over 4 million workers wanting full-time jobs have had to accept part-time work.

In addition, there were 123,000 more people holding more than one job, in order to try and take in enough to get by. What’s more, the biggest share of those added to the workforce were workers 65 and over, who are losing ground in Social Security income.

Hiring by big retail chains for the end-of-the-year holiday season is also slowing down. Bosses from Macy’s to Walmart to Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, have said they will hire fewer workers for the rest of the year. In past years, retail spending over the holidays often accounts for over 25% of some bosses’ entire year’s take.

Walmart told the media that if its stores needed more labor, they should push their workers to put in more hours. Unlike in 2022, where Walmart projected hiring 40,000 seasonal workers, it hasn’t announced any  plans to hire this Christmas. Watch out Santa!

Meanwhile, bankruptcies by large corporations, including SVB Financial, Bed Bath & Beyond, Rite Aid and Yellow Corp., are on the rise. Tens of thousands of workers at these companies now face loss of their jobs, health care and other benefits. At Yellow, which was one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S., jobs of 30,000 Teamsters have been axed.

Rising prices cut workers’ wages

And workers’ paychecks continue to buy fewer things, with prices rising on many items families need, from groceries to housing to cars to occasional restaurant meals. While the overall price increase has slowed over the past year, it still keeps going up, and the biggest increases continue in basic necessities. Grocery prices are up nearly 20% and gasoline is up 52% during the glory years of Bidenomics.

But never fear, if you’re rolling in dough you can find good deals. Many of the ruling rich sink a hunk of their loot into buying fine art as an investment. And the prices of paintings and such fell 6% in the first half of 2023, to an average of $42,172 per piece.

For you and I, however, prices have gone up much faster than our wages. For production workers in manufacturing, wages over the past 12 months rose 4.3%. But the average number of hours worked dropped almost 1%, so income only rose 3.7%, well below the rate of inflation.

It has become more difficult for many working people to cover rising credit card debts, auto payments and housing expenses. Thirty-year mortgages are now just short of 8%. They were near 2% three years ago. As a result, more young adults in their 20s and 30s live at home with their parents. They can’t afford to get out on their own or form and maintain a family.

Credit card debt recently topped $1 trillion for the first time. The average annual interest rate that working people are paying on credit card balances hit a record high of 22.8% at the end of August. This is up from 16.3% a year ago. This will bring as much as $40 billion into the big banks, according to WalletHub, which tracks such things.

“Inflation is already racing past next year’s Social Security COLA,” headlined an Oct. 12 MarketWatch article. The government announced that cost-of-living adjustments for the 67 million Social Security recipients will rise a mere 3.2% in 2024. And a hunk of this will go to pay for higher monthly Medicare premiums, which are projected to go up by roughly $10 a month.

And this 2024 raise is much lower than actual prices older workers will be paying to survive. Among recipients ages 65 and older, 40% rely on Social Security for half or more of their income, 14% for nearly all their income.