US employment and non-wage benefits

Tom Lehman TLehman at
Tue Aug 29 18:42:44 PDT 2000

Numbers can be played with, and, definitions twisted. The fact is that by everyone's admission there are between 40 and 46 million Americans without any health insurance. I've never seen or heard this range of numbers contested by anyone across the political spectrum.

Then there are American who have less than adequate health insurance and who have seen their benefits cut or managed over the last 20 years. This would be a hard or almost impossible stat to track. Add to this the loss or reduction in benefits for eyecare or dental and this too would be hard to track.

We in the USA have also seen a shift from very solid defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans. There are also shakey and under-funded pension plans out there too. One could probably make a career of poking around in PBGC data and SEC data.

These are a few things to consider.

Tom Lehman

Btw, I believe we have a mutual e-mail pal in the Australian union movement.

John.Pennington at wrote:

> In one of our major dailies one of New Zealand's favourite right wing sons
> claimed that even if the median real wage in the US is no higher today than in
> 1973 that 1. the real wage is an unreliable indicator of income levels and the
> distribution of income. 2. Non-wage benefits have surged since 1973, are omitted
> and now average 70% of wages and between 1973 and 1996 average hours worked fell
> by 10%. Our daring correspondant also claimed that most households on low
> incomes move to higher incomes over time. Between 1970 and 1997, real median
> household income in the US increased by 9% while that for Afro-American
> households increased by 16%.
> I would really appreciate if someone could comment on this as the US economy is
> being used by the right - but not exclusively - as the the only game in town.
> Thanks
> John Pennington

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