The state of the American worker

Workers in an office

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: This being Labor Day, we decided to take a look at the state of the American worker. What's happening with wages, insurance and buying power? Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Workers' wages are a mixed bag. Cornell labor relations professor Harry Katz says, skilled workers are making good money.

Harry Katz: Workers who know how to make us of computers or help build those Boeing planes that are selling so well.

But low-skilled workers are finding their hours cut. Rising gas and food prices further erode their salaries. Economist Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute, says these workers are spending less. Retailers then have to tighten their belts.

Heidi Shierholz: They'll hire fewer workers, who'll then become people who are spending a lot less, and you start to see this downward spiral.

As for insurance, the Census Bureau is reporting that the number of uninsured Americans actually fell last year, although that was only because more were insured through government programs. The Economic Policy Institute says the share of Americans with insurance coverage through an employer fell in 2007, for the seventh straight year.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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