Wage Repression

Travis Fast

Following the Lonely Economist’s nice little quick and dirty break down of CN profits and the lackluster growth of their workers wages over the last little while I have put up some graphs.

One of the fascinating aspects of relatively stagnant wages for workers over the past twenty years is the degree to which wage settlements among unionized workers has been repressed from the beginning of the 1980s to the present.


The chief benefactor of the repression of wages has been corporations in terms of healthy profit shares of output and low unit labour costs which are plotted in the next two graphs.


Unit labour costs

Lest their be any doubt the last graph plots various measures of the profit rate.


No doubt as the coming recession sets in we are going to hear the litany from corporate Canada: Wages are too high and that they can’t compete on unit labour costs. Two demands will flow: More tax cuts on capital and the right to weasle out of their pension obligations. Progressives would do well to start countering this nonesense starting now.


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