If you don’t identify your sources, why shouldn’t anyone believe the truthfulness of your statements? By not qualifying statements, it’s very easy to mislead your reader.
A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits.
I want to begin by pointing out that there are no citations whatsoever for this statement. None. Why should I take this author, Robert B. Reich, at his word?
Okay, but since I’m not going to even bother to research his claim, I’ll believe him. Full-time workers earned an average of $50 an hour fifty years ago? Let’s take a look at some of the facts…
Does this include every worker at GM? Is this just the hourly employees who worked the lines or does it include others like engineers, management, and other professional fields? Surely, this would bring the averages up.
Fifty years ago, $50 would be worth $6.53. And really, that’s pretty good money back then, putting them in the top 17.7%. But is this a little misleading? I would say so since he’s including benefits payments in that number. According to FactCheck.org, United Auto Workers (UAW) employees earned about $70 an hour in 2008. But once again, that’s including benefits. The actual hourly wage earned by UAW employees (in 2008) was about $29 an hour. The $70 is also including benefits being earned by retired workers (the average is calculated by dividing the total monies being paid by only the number of employees currently working). Is this method also how the pay was calculated for the GM workers in 1962? I don’t know because the author didn’t cite anything or explain how any of this was calculated.
Does this 1962 value also include overtime? Was that overtime given as straight time, time and a half?
The main point of this article is to compare what GM workers made in 1962 to Walmart workers today and claim that the lack of unionization for Walmart employees is the cause. But how do you compare the two? They’re not using the same metrics, so any comparisons made are skewed from the start.
Working at Walmart is a pretty low-skill job. An autoworker, on the other hand, requires considerable training, knowledge, and marketable skills and would be paid accordingly. So of course Walmart employees earn less—they’re so much easier to replace and almost anyone can perform the job. Is it fair to compare what a doctor made in 1970 compared to a McDonald’s drive-thru attendant today?
If Walmart workers think they are worth more money, why don’t they find someone else to pay them more? If no one is willing to pay them more money, then maybe Walmart’s offer is what they’re worth as workers.