Overwhelmed and Overworked: The Myth of American ProductivityWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
Employment finally seemed back on track during first few months of 2004. Politicians crowed that "Our tax cuts are working." Then, without warning, job growth slowed to a crawl, resulting in a deficit of more than 2 million jobs from that confidently predicted only a year ago. To counteract that dismal performance, public emphasis turned to another indicator, productivity. The reported increases in American productivity are quite genuine. Individual worker output collectively rose, from 2000 to 2003, by a full 12 percent. Definitely a bonus for Wall Street - but what about Main Street?
As meticulous research of Economic Policy Institute shows (Snapshot, 09/08/04), real family income fell, over same period, by 3 percent. Contrast this with economic period of 1947 - 1973 when productivity and real family income moved in tandem, both doubling over those years.
What does this suggest?
Americans are working harder and longer for less family income. As companies downsize or fail to replace workers who leave or retire, fewer staff are left to handle workload. In fear of losing their own jobs, they respond by accepting new duties and new responsibilities and added work time that accompanies them. In a world where employees are tethered to their workplaces virtually around clock, by laptops, cell phones, and blackberries, traditional balance of home and work has crumbled.
There is a tendency to believe that such pressures are only operative for ambitious, career-obsessed, "Apprentice"-like, ladder climbers. In fact, sixty-hour-plus workweek affects a substantial portion of all salaried workers, even down to front line supervisory staff.
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