One of the few companies where profits are under management control Credit, Amazon logo

We would actually like real wages to be rising over time. Despite the thought that we live in a capitalist society, one attuned to making the plutocrats ever better off, the truth is a little different. Among all of the various things we’ve tried over the millennia this rough capitalism with free markets blend is the only thing that has managed to achieve the one desired thing. A serious, sustained and substantial rise in the living standard of the average bloke – or blokess. That’s the reason to support it and the reason why it does work was something understood by Marx. When we’ve full employment, when there’s no reserve army of the unemployed, then real wages will rise:

Amazon has raised its minimum wage for British and American workers, in a major milestone for campaigners pushing for pay increases to tackle rising levels of poverty and inequality in both countries.

More than 350,000 US workers will see the minimum wage increase to $15 (£11.57) an hour, while almost 40,000 UK workers will see their pay rise to £10.50 in London and £9.50 across the rest of the country.

Real wages, real incomes, are rising. We’ve got, in both countries, what is usually though of as full employment. Good, standard economics is working as we thought it did. Maybe late, not as fast as we’d like, but it is working.

The new pay rates start on 1 November, and will apply to all staff, full and part-time, as well as temporary and seasonal workers.

So, why?

Because Amazon needs workers to exploit and expropriate from. And if everyone is already being employed by other people then they need to tempt them away from the other capitalists. And that’s pretty much it.

Swift growth in the US economy and a significant tightening in the labour market in recent months has left companies competing more aggressively to hire workers. Average hourly earnings of non-farm employees across the US hit $27.16 in August — increasing at the quickest rate in nine years, according to labour department data.

“Labour markets continued to be characterised as tight throughout the country, with most districts reporting widespread shortages,” the Federal Reserve said last month in a regular review of the US economy, adding that in “a number” of its dozen districts, retailers found shortfalls when hiring lower skilled workers.

It’s not campaigners, it’s not the legal minimum wage, it’s full employment causing this. As has been noted:

If everyone is employed then extra labour can only be gained by tempting it away from other employers – something Marx himself noted. That competition for labour is what raises wages. If there’s a huge reserve army of unemployed people competition for labour is minimal, meaning there is no incentive for employers to raise wages.

In fact, we can forget all the campaigning, abolish the minimum wage, and just try to have full employment, that’ll work just a, well, just as we can see that it does work. For full employment is the workers’ best friend.

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jgh
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jgh

I’m sceptical, I’ve applied for three jobs with Amazon and have been turned down all three times, and have similarly applied for 2300 jobs in that last eight years. That doesn’t suggest a shortage of applicants. In fact, if the employer does deign to reply, it is standard boilerplate saying: we can’t be arsed to reply to applicants, if you haven’t heard from us you haven’t got the job, piss off.

MrYan
Member
MrYan

Full Employment probably doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s not that everyone in a country has a job as there will always be people who are unemployable. Amazon might not take you if you don’t at least have secondary level education (high school). Not many would employ people who have to notify employers of serious criminal convictions (murder, rape etc).

You may fit into one of these categories – hence no job offers.

Southerner
Member

Or jgh may simply be white, male and over forty.

Esteban DeGolf
Member

I don’t get the “over 40” bit, why would an employer avoid hiring people over 40? During my career (retired now) I was involved in interviewing 100-200 people & choosing which ones to hire. I never cared about anyone’s age & never saw or heard any evidence that anyone else did. The closest thing to age discrimination I saw was one case re: a woman in her 60s – the question was asked whether our investment in training (we were an unusual line of business & used unique software requiring a substantial front-end investment) might not be worthwhile if she… Read more »

Spike
Member

The reason an employer would look for excuses to avoid even interviewing a candidate over 40 is that workers from 40-65 are yet another Protected Class under US law, so deciding not to hire for any reason opens you up to the Christine Blasey Fords of the world making a legal case that you harbor unthinking, superficial hatred of the entire “class.”

If you really are an employer, you should already know that asking reasonable questions is tremendously risky (such as whether the candidate has plans to start a family that might interfere with the work).