Corporations Are Raking In Record Profits, But Workers Aren’t Seeing Much of It

From the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Companies Post Profit Growth Not Seen in Six Years

America’s largest companies are on pace to post two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011….Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11% in the second quarter, according to data from Thomson Reuters, following a 15% increase in the first quarter.

That sounds great! So does that mean worker pay has also posted strong growth? Let’s take a look:

I’ve used the employment cost index, which accounts for things like health care and other benefits, not just wages. And since corporate profits were down in 2015-16, I’ve used two-year growth rates, adjusted for inflation, to get a fair reading of longer-term earnings vs. pay.

As you can see, employee compensation growth roughly matched corporate profit growth in 2016, but in the first half of 2017 corporate profits have spiked while wage growth has been meager. Basically, corporations have manufactured profits by being stingy with workers.

I’m certainly happy to see businesses doing well. But I’d be a lot happier if this meant that workers were doing well too.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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