mcloudyn.png
Thursday August 11th, 2022 10:36PM

Hourly workers still have leverage as US hiring booms

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

New York (AP) — Chelsie Church was working as a manager at a Colorado Taco Bell when she found out workers at a nearby Pizza Hut were earning more than $1 an hour more than she was.

Her attempts to negotiate a raise were unsuccessful, so she kept hunting for another job, eventually finding one at Laredo’s Tacos, a chain connected to 7-Eleven.

“Even my Taco Bell manager said, ’If they’re gonna offer you $20 an hour — take it,’” Church said.

As inflation skyrockets, hourly workers like Church have been seeking different positions with better pay.

More than 4 million Americans have quit their jobs every month since June 2021, a level never seen before last year. A Pew Research survey found that about one in five U.S. workers say they are very or somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next six months.

For many workers on the low end of the pay scale, though, inflation has already eaten into or erased any real wage gains, said Brad Hershbein, senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

In July, hourly earnings rose 0.5%, an increase of 5.2% over the past year — still not enough to keep up with inflation. And sometimes switching jobs may mean earning more while giving up benefits like health insurance or schedule consistency.

Still, hiring is booming — U.S. employers added more than half a million jobs in July, according to the monthly jobs report released Friday — and unemployment remains near a 50-year low, meaning job-switching will likely remain an option at least for the near future.

“One major source of worker power is the implicit threat that you’ll quit your job and take another,” said Heidi Shierholz, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “When there’s a huge number of job openings at one time, that implicit threat is real.”

That could change if hiring slows and the U.S. economy continues to weaken. But for the moment, “The momentum is still with the worker,” said Hershbein. “We’re not where we were six to 12 months ago — but the labor market remains strong.”

Labor economist Kathryn Edwards, with the Rand Corporation, says that while hourly pay increases may be attainable right now through job-switching, other benefits — such as regular hours, sick days, and health insurance — are often not even on the table.

That’s why Ethan Ramsey, 21, continues working at the Publix supermarket in Miami, Florida, where he started in 2020.

Ramsay has seen more turnover and churn in recent months, he said, as the supermarket no longer pays as much as other hourly employers in the area. But he takes into account the Publix benefits, such as vision and dental coverage, as well as rarities like a 401 (k) contribution and a percentage of salary in company stock.

“As good as those are, you still want to be paid what your time is worth,” he said. Inflation has exacerbated the pressure.

“Every single customer that comes in — no exaggeration — everyone that’s an adult, that’s not a kid — complains that everything is more expensive at the register,” he said. To supplement his paycheck, Ramsay often picks up shifts from on-demand driving apps and works as a snow-cone delivery driver, he said.

Workers considering switching for higher wages should also take into account the possibility of “labor hoarding,” where an employer will hire new employees to have on hand, but with no guarantee of regular hours, Edwards said. In these cases, the overall return to a worker changing jobs may be lower.

“Employers bait and switch all the time,” she said.

Some workers would rather stay where they are and push for higher wages. In response to widespread instability in workplace conditions, there has been a marked increase in worker organizing in recent months, Edwards and Shierholz noted.

Union drives are up 58% over the same period last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board, and workers filed nearly 2,000 petitions for representation in the first three quarters of the 2022 fiscal year. High-profile campaigns at Amazon and more than 200 Starbucks locations have made headlines.

Maeg Yosef, 41, who has worked as a crew member at Trader Joe’s in Hadley, Mass., for 18 years, said that working through the pandemic led to her and her coworkers discussing workplace safety and other conditions more often, including pay and benefits, which led to a successful union drive this month.

Days before that vote, the company announced raises for certain brackets of workers, an increase Yosef attributes to the pressure of the campaign.

“We were well aware our wages have not kept up with inflation,” she said. “And we had tried to voice concerns in the past, through surveys and other channels. The company wasn’t listening.”

Trader Joe’s workers in Minneapolis, Minn. and Boulder, Colo., have also filed for union elections, with the Minneapolis location slated to hold its vote next week.

“Among workers — and particularly low wage workers — there’s been a reigniting of the understanding that employers are seeing record profits while wages haven’t kept up,” Shierholz said. “I don’t think that will fade away as quickly. Some of what low-wage workers have gained in terms of bargaining power is not going away.”

___

The Associated Press receives support from Charles Schwab Foundation for educational and explanatory reporting to improve financial literacy. The independent foundation is separate from Charles Schwab and Co. Inc. The AP is solely responsible for its journalism.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Careers, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Economist: Alex Jones, his company worth up to $270 million
An economist says conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are worth up to $270 million
1:11PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 9, including senior militant
Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least nine people, including a senior militant, and wounded 55 others
1:03PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Stocks falling as hot jobs data suggests Fed hikes not over
Stocks are swinging lower Friday following a blockbuster report on the U.S. jobs market that suggested the Fed won't soon rein in its aggressive rate hikes
1:03PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
China halts climate, military ties over Pelosi Taiwan visit
China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the U.S. on a range of issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
12:35PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Ex-police Lt. arrested after fatally shooting DC officer
A retired police lieutenant has been arrested after police say he fatally shot a fellow law enforcement officer Thursday during a training exercise at a Washington D
12:29PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Musk countersuit accuses Twitter of fraud
Elon Musk accused Twitter of fraud in a countersuit over his aborted $44 billion deal for the social media company, which he said held back necessary information and misled his team about its true user base
12:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Employment market shows signs of cooling amid rate hikes
The employment market appears to have lost some of its sizzle, a development that could influence Federal Reserve policy and further raise concerns about an economic recession among investors
10:04AM ( 1 day ago )
Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week
Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, but the previous week’s number was revised upward significantly, with claims breaching the 250,000 level in back-to-back weeks for the first time in more than eight months
9:18AM ( 1 week ago )
Seeking new funds, Hamas raises taxes in impoverished Gaza
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have imposed a slew of new taxes on imported clothes and office supplies just ahead of the new school year
2:04AM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Careers
Stocks are mixed after hot jobs data offers good, bad news
Stocks are mixed on Friday following a blockbuster report on the U.S. jobs market that offered both good and bad news for Wall Street
10:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
US stocks falling after red-hot jobs report; Warner -15%
Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street Friday following much stronger than expected hiring data from the Labor Department
9:48AM ( 3 hours ago )
US stock futures sink after red-hot jobs report, yields jump
Stocks in the U.S. fell in premarket trading after a hotter-than-expected report on hiring suggested the Federal Reserve will have to stay aggressive in its efforts to fight inflation
9:19AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Florida woman's lawsuit says Equifax error made loan pricier
A Florida woman has sued Equifax claiming she was denied a car loan because of a 130-point mistake she says was part of a larger group of credit score errors the ratings agency made this spring due to a coding problem
12:48PM ( 1 day ago )
Long-term mortgage rates under 5% for 1st time in 4 months
The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate fell below 5% for the first time in four months this week, just after the Federal Reserve jacked up its main borrowing rate in an aggressive effort to get inflation under control
10:00AM ( 1 day ago )
Growing prescriptions help push CVS past Q2 expectations
CVS Health thumped second-quarter expectations and hiked its full-year forecast as growing prescription claims helped balance a drop in vaccinations
10:59AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Economist: Alex Jones, his company worth up to $270 million
An economist says conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are worth up to $270 million
1:11PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 9, including senior militant
Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least nine people, including a senior militant, and wounded 55 others
1:03PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Stocks falling as hot jobs data suggests Fed hikes not over
Stocks are swinging lower Friday following a blockbuster report on the U.S. jobs market that suggested the Fed won't soon rein in its aggressive rate hikes
1:03PM ( 24 minutes ago )
More storms bring renewed flood threat in hard-hit Kentucky
Thunderstorms have returned to parts of Kentucky already reeling from devastating floods
12:51PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Republicans pick Milwaukee to host 2024 national convention
Republicans have chosen Milwaukee in swing state Wisconsin to host the 2024 national convention, beating out Nashville in deep-red Tennessee
12:43PM ( 44 minutes ago )