Just High Can Salaries Go

Introduction: How High Can Salaries Go

Just how high can salaries go in this current 4% employment rate? I just read an article in the Washington Post commenting on the UAW’s current strike of the big three automakers. It mentions salaries of auto workers having dropped to $32 an hour, down 30% from 10 years earlier. This hourly wage may shock many $15 to $20 dollar-an-hour workers like my son, but for many workers, this has been the norm for all their lives. At Job Career Critic, we have always advocated for workers to take advantage of our higher-paying jobs because of today’s competitive salary market.

The Impact of Salaries on Lifestyle

Salaries determine our lifestyle and existence, where we all live, who we live with and around, where our kids go to school, and the education they will get to determine their future. Salaries will determine our clothes and who our kids will hang out with. Discrepancies in wages are the reason for the economic chasm we have in America and around the World. Many workers will never experience salaries capable of lifting their families out of poverty. They will never experience the elusive American Dream of owning a home or buying a new car. This restriction of keeping high-salaried jobs from minorities and low-wage earners has always been built into the system and will only change over time.

The Historical Perspective

Jane Meyer’s book in 2016 called Dark Money about billionaires using the Citizens United SCOTUS decision of 2010 to flood the political spectrum featured in The New York Times It is a very detailed account of money supplied to PACs, which gave donors cover, to be given to politicians to push legislation for their conservative agenda. The importance of Citizens United is they remain anonymous regardless of how many hundreds of millions of dollars they give. She spoke of a time in the 1970s when auto workers made $27 per hour and how freaked out the corporate class was wondering how high salaries would go in the future. Back then, most workers were making $6 to 15 dollars an hour, and some higher-wage workers were at $13 to $15 per hour. But the Corporate Class struck gold when Ronald Reagan became President. Wages and union salary increases flatlined from 1982 to 2023. So, the concerted effort by business and mostly conservative administrations has successfully suppressed wages for over forty years. The only reason wages increased recently was strikes by low-wage earners demanding a living wage, but mostly because employers needed workers after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

The Current Shift in Salary Trends

Now, the lid is off, and employees are experiencing a newfound feeling of earning a living wage because employers must be competitive, or they will not retain workers due to a phenomenon called Quiet Quitting, amongst other reasons employees have given. However, the question remains about salaries and the impact they are having on society, especially the poor. Recently, I went to White Castle to order my usual number #1. I prepared to pay the price I spent on my last visit almost two years ago, the last time I was there. When I first started eating the #1, it was $2.99 and gradually went up to $4.99, but with my discount, it went down about 15%. When I got my order, I was shocked when she said, “That will be $8.88.” I asked if she got the order right (I thought she was out of her mind), and she said it was correct and pointed me to the menu where the price of a #1 was. There it was, as big as can be. I paid but now have to ponder what $15 per hour meant for a heretofore cheap fast-food experience and how I was going to enjoy this inflated food I had.

Speculations on the Future

What would have happened if Ronald Reagan hadn’t put the brakes on unions? Would salaries have gone through the roof by now? How would we have adjusted prices for commodities rising because spending was up due to higher wages? What will be the scheme by corporations to stymie salaries again in the future? There was a time when your boss’s salary was seven or eight times your salary but now it’s 300 times your salary. Wage discrepancies of this sort assure a future of strife for workers trying to get some form of equity for their work. Unfortunately, with a Supreme Court in their pockets, I believe it won’t until after the most assertive union president we have seen in a long time, maybe ever, has left the White House. At Job Career Critic, we advise young workers to think fast and long about what career they want to be in their life’s work. Many opportunities await you, but you must train and prepare for your desired job. No one is holding you back but yourself!

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