Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
|—||from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (via justasklionheart)|
Americans tend to overestimate how many hours they work in a typical week by about 5 to 10 percent, according to a study published in a Labor Department journal, with the biggest exaggerators being people who work longer weeks.
The study compared people’s estimates for how much time they spent working against a time diary they were asked to keep of all their activities. Whether because of faulty memories or a desire to sound more industrious (or some combination of the two), most respondents systematically overestimated how much time they spent at work.
The typical person who reported having worked 40 hours, for example, actually worked closer to 37. The report found that “The greater the estimate, the greater the overestimate”; people who said they worked 75 hours actually worked closer to 50 hours. (That’s an overestimate of 25 hours, or 50 percent!) At the other end of the spectrum, people who worked relatively few hours (under around 25) actually ended to underestimate their hours.
We can deal with unemployment every bit as effectively by having people work fewer hours, as we can by increasing demand.
The most important point to realize is that the problem facing wealthy countries at the moment is not that we are poor, as the stern proponents of austerity insist. The problem is that we are wealthy. We have tens of millions of people unemployed precisely because we can meet current demand without needing their labor.
There is nothing natural about the length of the average work week or work year and there are, in fact, large variations across countries. The average worker in Germany and the Netherlands puts in 20% fewer hours in a year than the average worker in the United States. This means that if the US adopted Germany’s work patterns tomorrow, it would immediately eliminate unemployment.
|—||Why Americans should work less – the way Germans do | Dean Baker | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk (via swirlspice)|
One. How many people work and are still poor?
In 2011, the US Department of Labor reported at least 10 million people worked and were still below the unrealistic official US poverty line, an increase of 1.5 million more than the last time they checked. The US poverty line is $18,530 for a mom and two kids. Since 2007 the numbers of working poor have been increasing. About 7 percent of all workers and 4 percent of all full-time workers earn wages that leave them below the poverty line.
Two. What kinds of jobs do the working poor have?
One third of the working poor, over 3 million people, work in the service industry. Workers in other occupations are also poor: 16 percent of those in farming; 11 percent in construction; and 11 percent in sales.
Three. Which workers are most likely to be working and still poor?
Women workers are more likely to be poor than men. African American and Hispanic workers are about twice as likely to be poor as whites. College graduates have a 2 percent poverty rate while workers without a high school diploma have a poverty rate 10 times higher at 20 percent.
Four. What about benefits for low wage workers?
Ten percent of US workers earn $8.50 an hour or less according to the US Department of Labor. About 12 percent have health care and about 12 percent have retirement benefits. Nearly one in four get paid sick leave and less than half get paid vacation leave.
Five. What rights do the working poor have?
Most workers have a right to earn at least the federal minimum wage of $7.50 an hour. Tipped employees are supposed to get at least $2.13 each hour from their employer and if the worker does not earn enough in tips to make the $7.50 minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. People who work more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to one and one-half of their regular pay for each hour of overtime.
Six. What about wage theft from the working poor?
Many low wage workers have part of their earnings stolen by their employers. Examples include not paying people the full minimum wage, not paying required overtime, stealing from tipped employees, or fraudulently classifying workers as independent contractors. A survey of over 4000 low wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York conducted by university and non-profit researchers found: 26 percent of the workers were paid less than the minimum wage in the previous week, a majority were underpaid by more than $1 an hour; a significant number worked overtime the previous week and were not paid the legally required overtime; many were required to come early or stay late and work “off the clock” and were not paid for it; almost a third of the tipped workers were not paid the minimum wage and more than 1 in 10 tipped workers had some of their money stolen by their employer or supervisor.
Seven. What is a living wage in the US?
Dr. Amy Glasmeier of Penn State University has created a Living Wage Calculator that estimates the hourly wage needed to pay the cost of living for low wage families in the US. It breaks down the cost of living by state and locality across the nation. In New Orleans, a mom with one child needs to earn $17.52 to make ends meet. In New York, the mom with one child should earn $19.66 to make it. If we now realistically calculate the number of people who work and do not earn a living wage, the numbers of working poor in the US skyrocket to several tens of millions.
Eight. What about jobs for the unemployed and underemployed?
The US Labor Department estimated recently that 13 million people were unemployed. Another 8 million people were working part-time but wanted full-time work. Even more millions who are not working are not counted in those numbers because they have been unemployed so long.
A study by Northeastern University found that in the poorest families, unemployment is nearly 31 percent. Underemployment is also much more of a problem in poor homes, with over 20 percent of those workers reporting they are working part-time but seeking full-time work.