Author Rick Wartzman Says “Golden Age” for Jobs is Over
Rick Wartzman, a Pulitzer-winning reporter who writes for Fortune magazine, has recently authored a book in which he discusses why good-paying jobs with sound benefit packages are becoming hard to find in the United States.
In his new book, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America, Wartzman says that America’s lost blue-collar jobs are not coming back. He studied four big corporations—Eastman Kodak Company, General Electric Company, General Motors Companies, and The Coca-Cola Co for his analysis.
Wartzman, who used to work for The Wall Street Journal, argues that that the “Golden Age” for jobs is over in the United States. That was the period when less-educated workers were able to find well-paying factory jobs that offered good employment benefits, allowing those workers to attain decent living standards and middle-class status.
Today, however, factors like globalization, weakened unions, and automation have resulted in significant losses of blue-collar jobs, which are not likely to come back to the United States.
Wartzman says that many of the middle-class workers who have lost their jobs ultimately joined the voting base of President Donald Trump. Trump’s promise to bring back jobs was music to their ears.
The author mentions that employment benefits exploded after World War II. He says that about 15% of Americans received healthcare benefits from their employers in the 1940s. This figure grew to more than 70% by the 1970s.
However, the downfall of the American worker began after the 1970s, according to Wartzman. That’s when corporations shifted their focus toward globalization. In an effort to become globally competitive, corporations began outsourcing their jobs for cheaper labor.
At the same time, “maximizing shareholder value” became the center theme of all corporations, which meant corporations looked for ways to cut costs. This is when the well-being of employees got pushed to the back burner.
Wartzman explains that senior executives have their compensation packages tied to the company’s bottom-line numbers. Since the executives hold a significant number of shares in the companies they lead, they are always looking for ways to maximize their returns.
To achieve that, executives look for ways to push share prices up in the short term. In order to increase profits, they resort to cost-cutting measures that affect employee salaries, healthcare benefits, and retirement pensions.
“The ‘End Of Loyalty’ And The Decline Of Good Jobs In America,” NPR, July 5, 2017.