The Oppression of American Labor

Over at the Real-World Economics blog, economist Edward Fullbrook presents a graph of labor’s demise in the United States as well as an article from Al-Jazeera English titled America in Denial that promotes Fullbrook’s new book.

Fullbrook brings it to the attention of work-weary Americans that they work far too many hours per year compared to other rich societies in the West (there are, of course, no rich societies outside of the West, but that’s a different blog for a different day).

Behold! The cold, hard facts informing American workers of their own oppression!

The United States ranks 22nd out of 30 rich states when it comes to hours worked per year. How can this be? Why are workers in the United States not up in arms and demanding a new form of government in which workers have much more say in the political process? Why is there no blood in the streets? Fullbrook and other Leftists will no doubt appeal to Plato’s argument that the American working class is simply enamored with the show on the wall of the cave, but I’d like to think there is a more simple answer to this data than the one suggesting American workers are ignorant of their horrid plight.

Here is a link to GDP (PPP) per capita of all the states in the world (plus some microstates). Purchasing power parity (PPP) is a useful tool that economists use to compare the incomes of people living the borders of specific states. The higher the purchasing power parity of a citizen, the richer he is compared to citizens of other states in the world.

Luxembourg and Norway come in at 2nd and 4th places, respectively, while the United States is ranked 5th (Hong Kong is not a state nor a microstate).

All five states that rank ahead of the US in GDP (PPP) per capita have a combined population of about 13 million people. That’s a little more than the state of Illinois.

I’m too lazy to find any correlation between hours worked and income earned, but do I really need to? Perhaps the hours worked by Americans are done so because they want to make more money than they otherwise would. Just a guess. Why can’t politicians and intellectuals simply get off our backs?

3 thoughts on “The Oppression of American Labor

  1. ha! Very good critical thinking here. The author of this study isn’t wrong because he’s an intellectual, however. He’s wrong because he’s an agendist (I swear that’s a real word) and has failed to consider the information as counter evidence. Thus, he isn’t an intellectual. He is a fool.

  2. Do you think it’s possible that the number of hours worked per week in America is related to middle class income stagnation? Inflation driving up prices at a rate faster than purchasing power rises could be causing people to seek more hours per week because a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to.

    • Otto,

      Great question, and to be honest I haven’t thought about it that way. My point was a much simpler one: maybe Americans enjoy working (and earning more money than just about everybody else!).

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