Published June 14, 2011
With 9.1% unemployment and nearly 14 million Americans out of work - and looking - having a job at all is a reason to celebrate.
But those that are employed aren't exactly whistling while they work. The Economic Policy Institute says back in 2007, before the recession began, wages were increasing at a rate of nearly 4% annually.
This year that increase is under 2%, meaning wages are growing slower than inflation! Wages have been relatively flat since January of 2010 and have dropped way off since the recession.
How does that work? It's not like we're not working hard for the money. According to a recent survey, only about half of Americans take the vacation days we're provided, compared to nearly 90% of the French.
And what we're provided is not impressive. The U.S. is the only developed nation to not require employers to offer vacation days, while places like Brazil, France and Finland are guaranteed six weeks off a year.
Also since the recession "ended" more and more companies are returning to the retirement business. With about one in five having to drop their 401(k) plans since 2007 - nearly half are bringing them back. But there's a catch: what they're contributing is much less.
According to the Wall Street Journal, many companies are making matches based only on profitability.
Others, like UPS, instead of matching 100% of 3% of their pay. That's been dropped to 50% of 5% pay.
Do the math: UPS has gone from contributing 3% to just 2.5%.
And others, like MGM Resorts, have put a $500 cap on what they hand out to their employees.
They used to match dollar-for-dollar up to 6%.
For most families, their 401(k)s are all they have set aside for their golden years.
So congrats on finding a job... but good luck saving for retirement or getting a raise or going on vacation... because oh yea - Americans don't do that either!