This month, In These Times collected 10 statistics that present a sobering vantage on American wealth since the Great Recession, revealing a nation defined by worsening inequality, stagnating wages and uneven economic development rather than universal prosperity.
18.82% – Increase in gross domestic product (GDP) between 2007 and 2018
43.16% – Increase in corporate profits after taxes from 2007 to 2018, adjusted for inflation
65.97% – Increase in ratio of CEO-to-worker compensation from 2007 to 2017, adjusted for inflation
29.2% – Increase in productivity from 2007 to 2017
2.93% – Decline in how much of GDP workers took home between 2007 and 2017
13.3% – Hourly pay increase from 2007 to 2017
$28 – Bonus from the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act for each American worker, according to recent analysis by the CRS
53% – Taxpayers who will pay more in taxes by 2027, due to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
3.1% – Decrease in civilian labor participation between 2007 and 2018
43% – College graduates who reported being underemployed in their first job, as of 2018
76% – Counties in the United States that had fewer small businesses in 2016 than they did in 2007
These are not isolated stories. As early as February 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicted a decline in net farm income to its lowest level since 2002 (adjusted for inflation), with median farm income projected at negative $1,316. For well over a year, worries about a new farm crisis have rippled across rural America. The very term is synonymous with the 1980s, when the bottom dropped out of the agricultural economy, sending thousands of farms into foreclosure and shuttering businesses.
Grain and dairy farmers were beginning to see a repeat of the ‘80s as their prices dropped this spring — and then President Trump started a trade war. Retaliatory agricultural tariffs have kicked this new farm crisis into high gear. The president is offering $12 billion in farm aid to ease the pain, but neither those payments nor the farm bill being hammered out in Congress will substantially change the outlook for farm country. Ever since federal farm policy told farmers to “get big or get out” in the ‘70s, the push toward consolidation has created decades of slow-burning crisis for many farmers. The problem has some rural residents re-envisioning rural policy from the ground up.
“When should we as a society paternalistically decide [that employees should be protected from] the risk of significant physical injury?” Kavanagh wrote in his dissent. Not only was this an extreme position—one few have espoused on the bench—but it completely contravenes Congress’s intent when it passed the workplace safety law more than four decades ago.
A bipartisan Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, and President Richard Nixon signed the legislation into law. It provided workers with the fundamental right to go to work and come home every day; workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for a paycheck. The law is clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.