[…] While Texas leads the nation in job growth, a majority of Texas’s workforce is paid hourly wages rather than salaries. And the median hourly wage there was $11.20, compared to the national median of $12.50 an hour.
Texas has also been specializing in minimum-wage jobs. From 2007 to 2010, the number of minimum wage workers there rose from 221,000 to 550,000 – that’s an increase of nearly 150 percent. And 9.5 percent of Texas workers earn the minimum wage or below – compared to about 6 percent for the rest of the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also has the highest percentage of workers without health insurance. Texas schools rank 44th in the nation in per-pupil spending.
The Perry model of creating more jobs through low wages seems to be catching on around America.
According to a report out today from the Commerce Department, the median income of U.S. households fell 2.3 percent last year – to the lowest level in fifteen years (adjusted for inflation). That’s the third straight year of declining household incomes. Part of this is loss of jobs. Part is loss of earnings.
More and more Americans are retaining their jobs by settling for lower wages and benefits, or going without cost-of-living increases. Or they’ve lost a higher-paying job and have taken one that pays less. Or they’ve joined the great army of contingent workers, self-employed “consultants,” temps, and contract workers – without healthcare benefits, without pensions, without job security, without decent wages.
It’s no great feat to create lots of lousy jobs. A few years ago Michele Bachmann remarked that if the minimum wage were repealed “we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”
I keep on hearing conservative economists say Americans have priced themselves out of the global high-tech labor market. That’s baloney. The productivity of American workers continues to soar. The problem is fewer and fewer Americans are sharing the gains. The ratio of corporate profits to wages is the highest it’s been since before the Great Depression.
Besides, how can lower incomes possibly be an answer to America’s economic problem? Lower incomes mean less overall demand for goods and services — which translates into even fewer jobs and even lower wages.
In short, the Perry (and Bachmann) model of job growth condemns Americans to lower and lower living standards. That’s nothing to crow about.
How is this not a war on the middle-class and income redistribution, bottom to top?