Wage Stagnation Ranks as Most Common Impact of Recession, New Poll Finds

Sep 05, 2010, 04:52 ET from Change to Win

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Of all the economic adversity resulting from the recession, declining or stagnating wages are the problem hampering the largest number of American voters, according to a public opinion poll released Thursday by the labor federation Change to Win.  The poll results were first reported by the blog Daily Kos.  

Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said that either they or someone they know has been affected by wages that lag behind the cost of living.  And 68 percent said that they or someone they know has suffered a reduction in wages.  Those hardships out-ranked even job losses as the most prevalent repercussion from the faltering economy.

The poll of 801 likely voters was conducted from August 18th through August 23rd by Hart Research Associates.  It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.  

An analysis of the poll compiled by Hart Research is available on-line at: http://www.changetowin.org/fileadmin/pdf/Me9960_Recession_Impact_FINAL.pdf

"This survey reinforces what the economic data have been screaming out for more than a generation:   A hard-day's work in America simply doesn't pay what it used to – unless you're a corporate executive, and then you're getting paid more than you're worth," said Tom Woodruff, Director of the Strategic Organizing Center for Change to Win.  "To cure what ails our economy we need to create not just jobs, but jobs at good wages.  We can start by using the power of the purse.  Let's look at how the federal government can promote higher wages, leveraging the $500 billion in federal contracts it awards to private employers every year."  

Woodruff noted that The American Prospect Magazine issued a special report this week outlining how President Obama could reform federal contracting to create incentives for higher wages.  

The survey also showed that impacts from sputtering wages have been more universal than any other economic woe, representing an equal-opportunity struggle for people of all educational levels.  For instance:

  • Forty-eight percent of respondents with a high school education or less, and 42 percent of those with a college degree, said that their family has been affected by "wages or salary not keeping up with the cost of living."
  • Reductions in wages or hours at work has affected 32 percent of those with a high school education or less and 29 percent of those with a college degree or more.

By contrast, the impacts of joblessness, delayed or cancelled the medical care and the loss of health insurance were far more polarizing, occurring in significantly larger proportions among those with no more than a high school diploma.

The poll provides on the ground confirmation of problem that has been lurking on the economic charts for decades.   Between 1978 and 2009, median family earnings in America inched upward only six percent – an average of about $400 a year -- even though productivity boomed by 75 percent, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).  A recent study by Yale economist Jacob Hacker found that a staggering one in five American households has lost 25 percent of their income in a year.

"For 30 years, Americans have been working harder than ever, but their pay, in real terms, has hardly budged," Woodruff said.  "So where has all that money gone?  To massive Wall St. bonuses and CEO salaries."

In 1973, the average CEO's compensation was 27 times higher than the average employee's.   By 2007, it was 275 times higher, according to EPI data.

An analysis of the poll compiled by Hart Research is available on-line at: http://www.changetowin.org/fileadmin/pdf/Me9960_Recession_Impact_FINAL.pdf


Mike Truppa

Cell:  (312) 286-5077


SOURCE Change to Win