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Ten Troubling Numbers Labor Day 2015

Workers march in a Labor Day parade in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo: BC Lorio/cc/flickr)

5.1. The official unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, or 8 million people, according to the US Department of Labor.  However, this widely reported “official” number overlooks the millions of people unemployed for more than a year nor does it count those who are working part-time and looking for full-time work.  The Department of Labor monthly report which includes people working part-time and looking for full-time work shows the real rate of unemployment is 10.3 percent.    

6.  It has been 6 years since the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour was raised.

8.9. Millions of adults, 8.9 million in fact, work full-time, year round and earn too little to lift their families out of poverty.

9.5. Unemployment among African Americans is officially reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics at 9.5 percent while unemployment among whites is 4.4 percent.  This report does not count the millions of people who have been unemployed for more than one year or who are working part-time and want to work full-time.

11.  Union membership in the US is 11 percent according to the Department of Labor.  Public sector unions have a membership rate of 36 percent compared to 6 percent of private sector workers.   Union workers earn about $200 more per week than non-union workers.  Union membership is at its lowest rate in 70 years, according to the New York Times.  The International Monetary Fund found declines in unionization results in higher income for those in the top 10 percent.

21.  Worker productivity went up 21 percent between 2000 and 2014 while wages rose only 2 percent according to the Economic Policy Institute.

68.  More than two-thirds of the poor in the US work, 68 percent.

82.  Full-time women workers earn 82 percent as much as men reports the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

204.  The average Chief Executive Officer earns 204 times what average workers earn, according to a 2015 report by research firm Glassdoor.

40,000,000.   More than 40 million workers, mostly low-wage workers, do not have paid sick days; so they are much more likely to go to work while sick, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

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Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at

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