The headline screamed in 2010, “American workers most productive in the world.” However, according to 24/7 Wall Street, American workers rank third behind Norway and Singapore. There are several caveats in figuring out productivity, but there is little doubt that the American worker is putting in more hours while wearing more hats than ever before -- and we are proud to do it because we see the unemployment figures and they don’t look good.
The shifting economies of the world has made this Labor Day poignant. Everyone is working hard, but there is little security in our labor. One sign of the economy is consumer confidence, one month it’s up, the next down (the August statistics are the highest in three months -- 74.3 according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final sentiment index. For comparison, according to Bloomberg, “The gauge averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession.”
Consumer confidence could also be called a gauge of fear, and the numbers suggest that there remains a high level of anxiety in the workplace. Gas, food and other costs add to the fear that even with a job American workers worry that they will not be able to keep up. The Commerce Department said wages were up 4.8 percent January through June. That statistic is quickly forgotten when gasoline jumps 28 cents a gallon overnight as it did last week in Middle Georgia and the price of the ground beef headed for the Labor Day grill is $2.69 a pound.
Americans should still take pride that even when times are tough, somehow we “get ’er done” more often than the rest of the civilized world.
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