But other economists assert that the weak growth in wages is an indicator of a new economic order in which working people are at the mercy of their employers. Unions have lost clout. Companies are relying on temporary and part-time workers while deploying robots and other forms of automation in ways that allow them to produce more without paying extra to human beings. Globalization has intensified competitive pressures, connecting factories in Asia and Latin America to customers in Europe and North America.
Jobs that require specialized, advanced skills are growing. So are low-paying, low-skill jobs. Positions in between are under perpetual threat.
Many economists see the decline [in unions] as a key to why employers can pay lower wages.
The government [Japan] has pressed companies to pay higher wages, cognizant that too much economic anxiety translates into a deficit of consumer spending, limiting paychecks for all.
But companies have mostly sat on their increased profits rather than share them with employees. Many are reluctant to take on extra costs out of a fear that the good times will not last
Union leaders [Norway], aware that companies must cut expenses or risk losing work, have reluctantly signed off on employers hiring growing numbers of temporary workers who can be dismissed with little cost or fuss.
“Shop stewards are hard pressed in the competition, and they say, ‘If we don’t use them then the other companies will win the contracts,” said Peter Vellesen, head of Oslo Bygningsarbeiderforening, a union that represents bricklayers, construction workers and painters. “If the company loses the competition, he will lose his work.”
Global Economy’s Stubborn Reality: Plenty of Work, Not Enough Pay By PETER S. GOODMAN and JONATHAN SOBLE