In a perfect world, we would only take on side jobs because we really wanted to. Unfortunately, wage stagnation means that many workers take on side jobs (or even second full-time positions) in order to make ends meet. Working too many hours is never recommended, but side jobs can have their benefits (assuming you still have some downtime in your schedule). Let's take a look at some of pluses.
The Great Recession hit the U.S. economy pretty darn hard, and American workers are still recovering. We've learned, in recent years, that an improving economy doesn't necessarily mean better pay for workers. However, despite these challenging economic trends, top executives continue to earn huge sums of money, especially compared with how much their employees make and when measured against how much people in their position used to earn in decades past. Let's take a look at a few facts about CEO pay and also examine why it really does matter, quite a lot actually, to you and your employer.
The student loan debt crisis is having a real impact on individuals and the economy in general. As a result, some lawmakers want to encourage employers to help their workers pay down their student loan debt. One proposal, for example, would grant businesses and workers a tax break.
You might think that teachers have a pretty good deal, getting the summer off and 12 months of pay to boot, but teachers' compensation is pretty low, especially when it's compared with other professions that require similar levels of education and training. Other public servants, like police officers and firefighters, also opt into a career that, despite its importance, leaves something to be desired in the salary department. But, shouldn't teachers and all public servants who work tirelessly and selflessly to better communities be able to afford to live in the area where they work? Here are a few things to think about.
Are wages growing? It depends on what industry you're in. The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, updated this morning, reflecting 1.8 percent annual growth across all industries for the first quarter. Quarterly growth, however, was 0.2 percent, and some sectors fared better than others. For example, while wages grew 4.6 percent for transportation jobs, they declined 2.2 percent for marketing and advertising jobs.
There were no big surprises in this month's Employment Situation Summary from the Labor Department: the economy added 215,000 jobs, just exceeding economists' predictions, and the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 4.9 percent for February to 5 percent for March. Perhaps the biggest news, however, was wage growth. Average hourly earnings increased 7 cents to $25.43, after a 2-cent decline the previous month. But some experts feel that we're still not seeing the kind of wage growth expected from a market that's supposedly approaching full employment.
During last night's seventh Republican debate, Sen. Ted Cruz said: "... we have seen now in six years of Obamacare that it has been a disaster. It is the biggest job-killer in this country. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, have lost their doctors, have seen their premiums skyrocket." If elected, he said, he would "repeal every word of Obamacare" – which would be a worthy goal, if Obamacare were really the job-killer Cruz claims it is. But is it?
As we get closer to the election, the primary races start to feel more like a boxing match. The Democrats are less likely to throw blows at one another than the candidates in the wider Republican field, but they do fall into the kind of media caricatures that feel more appropriate for professional athletes. You can even imagine what would be painted on their boxing robes: Bernie Sanders, the Heart; Hillary Clinton, the Head; Martin O'Malley, the Dark Horse. Last night's CNN Iowa Democratic Presidential Town Hall allowed the candidates to speak slightly more in depth, and try to get beyond the sound bites by answering voters' questions directly.
Some of the legal decisions that were made in 2015 didn't do much to help workers. For example, Wisconsin was added to the list of Right-to-Work states this year. Many feel that these laws, which change how unions collect fees from the workers they represent, hurt unions and the middle class. In other disappointing news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk case, mandating that companies are not required to compensate workers for the time they spend in security-screening at the end of their shifts – or for any task that's not an "integral and indispensable" part of their job, for that matter. But thankfully, the legal news for workers wasn't all bad this past year. So, let's focus on the good, shall we?
Watching the latest Democratic debate less than a week after the Republican debate, you're immediately struck by the differences between the two parties' events at this stage of the election cycle. It's not just the unsurprising fact that conservatives and liberals disagree on the major issues; it's that the Democrats, who have only three candidates vying for the nomination, have enough time to get into (slightly) more in-depth discussions about their proposals. Barring that, they've at least got more room, both metaphorically and physically on the stage, to argue with one another.
Unfortunately, only a very small minority of workers are really saving enough for retirement. In fact, many aren't saving at all. Let's look at a couple quick statistics from a study done this summer by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to see just how much folks are actually putting away. Here are a few facts.