The Labor Day Blues

Last Updated Sep 1, 2008 2:28 PM EDT

It's Labor Day. Have you hugged a union member? I'll get to later today, when a neighbor who works for the gas company and his wife the teacher come over.

Labor could use a hug, generally. It's not the force it was when my grandfather was a lineworker at an automaker. But it may be showing signs of life, according to the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations issued a National Labor Scorecard (Note: this is a PDF that requires download).

Many of the findings show challenges:

• More than 10 percent of Americans are unemployed, discouraged from seeking work, or underemployed, up almost 25 percent from a year ago.

• The percent of workers who are working part time but would like full-time work has increased more than 72 percent in the last eight years

• Median weekly earnings are flat in real terms since 2000.

• Pay inequality continues to increase, though wealth inequality is fairly stable.

On the plus side:

• Mass layoffs are down from five and ten years ago.

• On-the-job injuries, including fatalities, continue to decline.

• The percentage of workers represented by unions is up slightly, after decades of decline.

• The number of workers who say they are "completely satisfied" with their jobs is up over the last year, and the last decade. It's now at 48 percent.

Here's a link to the Associated Press story on the scorecard. Major papers didn't seem to give it much mind. Me, I've got to get back to work.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.