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Who's Better Off This Labor Day? Numbers Tell
Published on Friday, August 31, 2001 in the Boston Globe
Who's Better Off This Labor Day?
Numbers Tell
by Derrick Z. Jackson
 
TO KNOW WHOSE labor is actually being honored on Labor Day, consider these facts, drawn from recent data from by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, the Economic Policy Institute, the American Sociological Review, and the new book ''Raise the Floor,'' published by the Ms. Foundation for Women:

If the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as American productivity since 1968, it would be $13.80 an hour.

If the minimum wage had risen at the same paces as domestic profits since 1968, it would be $13.02.

If the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as profits in the retail industry, it would be $20.46. Nearly half of the workers in the retail industry make less than $8 an hour. While 16.9 percent of America's work force is in the retail industry, 35 percent of America's workers who make less than $8 an hour are in the retail industry.

If the minimum wage had risen at the same level pace as executive pay since 1990, it would be $25.50 an hour, not $5.15.

If the average pay for production workers had risen at the same level as CEO pay since 1990, the annual salary would be $120,491, not $24,668.

Twenty-nine percent of American families make less than what the Economic Policy Institute estimates is needed to meet basic needs - a national median of $33,551.

You cannot tell that children are our most precious resource by how we pay child-care workers. The median wage of child-care workers is $6.91 an hour. The median wage of parking lot attendants is $6.89. Preschool teachers average $9.43. Animal trainers average $12.39.

Women make up 28 percent of the work force in durable manufacturing but are 46 percent of workers in that industry who make less than $8 an hour.

Women make up 41 percent of the work force in communications but are 58 percent of workers in that industry who make less than $8 an hour.

In 1978, 70 percent of workers in the private sector were covered by employer-provided health insurance. By 1998, the figure had dropped to 62.9 percent.

In 1979, 40.7 percent of the lowest-income workers in the private sector were covered by employer-provided health insurance. By 1998, the figure had dropped to 29.6 percent.

In 1979, 60.9 percent of Latinos in the private sector were covered by employer-provided health insurance. By 1998, the figure had dropped to 44.6 percent.

The average compensation for the top health care executives at the top 10 managed health care companies, not including unexercised stock options, is $11.7 million per year.

African-American men in the highly paid professions of securities and financial sales earned only 72 cents for every dollar earned by white colleagues. African-American lawyers earned 79 cents for every dollar earned by white male lawyers. African American doctors and dentists earned 80 cents for every dollar earned by white male doctors and dentists.

The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans control about 38 percent of America's wealth.

The bottom 80 percent control 17 percent of America's wealth.

The top 1 percent of stock owners have 48 percent of stock holdings.

The bottom 80 percent have 4 percent of stock holdings.

A CEO of a firm that announced plans in 2001 to layoff 1,000 or more workers averaged $23.7 million individual total compensation. That compares with the national CEO compensation average of $13.1 million.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

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