As the economic gloom settles in, American workers seem to be coming around to the conclusion that they may be facing a permanent midnight.
A new survey from American Pulse, released in June, shows that 9 out of 10 American workers are not expecting salary increases next year to compensate for the rising cost of basic necessities like fuel and food.
Faced with increasingly expensive purchases and stagnant salaries, 70 percent said they planned on changing their habits by buying only necessities going forward, according to the survey. Only 6.6 percent said they planned on changing nothing in their budgets. This is bad news, not just for the American worker, but for the economy as a whole: consumer spending accounts for roughly seventy percent of G.D.P.. If Americans are only spending on necessities, they won't be driving economic growth. In the first three months of the year, consumer spending expanded at a rate of just 2.2 percent — much slower growth than anticipated.
American Pulse's results join a host of other recent findings that together paint a grim portrait of Americans' expectations.
Nearly half of America thinks the U.S. is nearing a second Great Depression, according to a CNN opinion research poll, while a new Gallup poll showed economic confidence plummeting in June. A third poll indicated that workers are more dissatisfied than they were before the recession -- facing low prospects of advancement, nearly one in three of those surveyed said they they were seriously considering leaving their jobs.
And with an unemployment rate above 9 percent, those sentiments could be here to stay, especially with corporate profits now 22 percent above their pre-recession level, according to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute.
As economist Brad Delong notes in the Mother Jones' story "All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup", corporate profits and rising wages for employees used to be more closely linked.
Not long ago, "businesses would hold on to workers in downturns even when there wasn't enough for them to do," Delong says. "That era is over"