Bye Bye, Benefits

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The Wall Street Journal reports on the future of employee benefits in America.  Or, rather, their lack of a future:

Since the downturn began, thousands of employers have cut pay, increased workers’ share of health-care costs or reduced the employer contribution to retirement plans.

Two-thirds of big companies that cut health-care benefits don’t plan to restore them to pre-recession levels, they recently told consulting firm Watson Wyatt. When the firm asked companies that have trimmed retirement benefits when they expect to restore them, fewer than half said they would do so within a year, and 8% said they didn’t expect to ever.

….”I think we’ve entered into a fundamentally new era,” says David Lewin, of the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. He describes employers as “leery of long-term commitments,” including both benefits and pay increases.

Now, obviously this has to be taken with a grain of salt.  In the same survey, for example, 22% of employers say they never intend to reinstate the salary reductions they made during the recession.  That may well be their intent, but these folks all have to pay market wages, and if market wages go up then they’ll have to follow suit whether they like it or not.

Still, intent isn’t nothing, and a long jobless recovery certainly makes it easier for employers to make good on promises like this — and maintaining cuts to benefit levels is even easier.  Outside of Wall Street, things are looking grim.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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