A couple of years ago, you might remember that McDonalds got a lot of publicity out of a one day hiring binge. I wrote about it here with a follow-up about the Washington Post noticing that it was a “McJobs” economic recovery a couple of weeks later. So here we are, two years later and where exactly are we?

At best, we are treading water. At best.

Today, NBC News‘ web site had this article titled ”In tough economy, fast food workers grow old” discussing the reality of older workers working in the fast food world. They had a companion article on fast food jobs as portrayed in the movies over the past couple of years (presumably in an attempt to off-set the negative implications of the original) but the stories in the first article should be heeded:

In many ways, she is a typical fast-food worker: She’s older than you’d expect, has more years of schooling and works in the industry not for entry-level experience, but to try to keep her head above the financial storm that threatens to swamp her.

Due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession, the Hollywood image of the care-free, freckle-faced, teenage hamburger flipper is no longer the norm. Only 16 percent of fast food industry jobs now go to teens, down from 25 percent a decade ago.

And many of the older workers are educated. More than 42 percent of restaurant and fast-food employees over the age of 25 have at least some college education, including 753,000 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jobs: Recovery is at Hand!

Jobs: Recovery is at Hand!

Yes, fast food jobs are not just for teenagers anymore.

I’ve actually noticed a few articles these past few months discussing working poor, low wage jobs, and the on-going unemployment crisis. First up is this from the Washington Post in January on the growing ranks of working poor:

Nearly a third of the nation’s working families earn salaries so low that they struggle to pay for their necessities, according to a new report.

The ranks of the so-called working poor have grown even as the nation has created new jobs for 27 consecutive months and is showing other signs of shaking off the worst effects of the recession.

As I discussed a couple of years ago, minimum wage is not a salary where someone is going to get ahead.

At the end of March, NBC News had an article looking at the growing ranks of poor families in the suburbs:

The number of suburban residents living in poverty rose by nearly 64 percent between 2000 and 2011, to about 16.4 million people, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of 95 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. That’s more than double the rate of growth for urban poverty in those areas.

At the end of this article, there were links to some further articles including, “‘By the grace of God’: How workers survive on $7.25 per hour” and “Media coverage of poverty: Why ‘so little’?” (coverage of a Dan Froomkin essay.)

On April 1 (and not an April Fools Day joke) CNN had an article on the lousy pay at the 10 most common jobs in the US:

Food prep workers are the third most-common job in the U.S., but have the lowest pay, at a mere $18,720 a year for 2012. Cashiers and waiters are also popular professions, but the average pay at these jobs tallies up to less than $21,000 annually. There are 4.3 million retail sales workers out there, making them the most common job, but the position pays only $25,310 for the year.

As a companion to the incredibly shrinking pay checks and the increase in the working poor, there are also the stresses put on workers by the jobs. First up here is this article from NBC News in early January, “Temp employees more likely to succumb to workplace hazards:

The use of contingent workers by U.S. employers has soared over the past two decades. In 1990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.1 million such workers; as of August 2012, the number was 2.54 million, down slightly from pre-recession levels but climbing.

…snip…

A study published this year of nearly 4,000 amputations among workers in Illinois found that five of the 10 employers with the highest number of incidents were temp agencies. Each of the 10 employers had between six and 12 amputations from 2000 through 2007. Most of the victims lost fingertips, but some lost legs, arms or hands.

…snip…

Another study, published in 2010, found that temp workers in Washington State had higher injury rates than permanent workers, based on a review of workers’ compensation claims. In particular, temp workers were far more likely to be struck by or caught in machinery in the construction and manufacturing industries.

Just last week NBC News had an article on work related stress:

So what did workers say is causing them the most agita? Everyone act surprised, it was a tie for No. 1: Low pay and unreasonable workload (14 percent each).

Lindsay Beyerstein at the Hillman Foundation had a post today on an LA Times article from last week on workers being ground down by the daily grind.

I guess we shouldn’t worry too much though. Early in March, Forbes reported the results of a survey of US Management types:

Competitiveness at the Crossroads (2012) is an alarming report with far-reaching implications. Forget the U.S. budget sequester. Set aside the financial bubbles on which the economy currently rests. Pay attention to something much more fundamental: America has lost the ability to compete in the international marketplace.

…snip…

In the survey, Harvard’s MBA alumni were asked how American business stacks up against its competition on a variety of issues. The quality of management is obviously one of the most important of those issues: if there are disastrous shortfalls in the ability to compete, then surely the quality of management itself—the art and science of getting things done—must have a lot to do with it. Indeed if there are widespread failures in competitiveness across the whole economy, then it is likely that we have something even more serious: a generic problem with the strategies being pursued.

…snip…

American business is unable to compete internationally. But management—relative to competitors—is both strong and improving?

Bold in original. Forbes at least had enough sense to ask WTF?

Happy Tax Day everyone!

And because I can:

Photo from Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com licensed under Creative Commons

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor