Today's News and Commentary–March 17

Published March 17th, 2014 -  - 03.17.146


The New York Times reports that a growing number of low-wage workers are struggling to escape poverty. Today’s low-wage workers are older and more educated than low-wage workers in years past, but many have been unable to find higher-paying jobs. According to the Center for Economic Policy Research, more than half of workers who earn $9 or less per hour are 25 or older, and 41 percent of low-wage workers have had some college education.

According to the New York Times and the Washington Post, Toyota shut down production at two factories near Bangalore, India, in response to a ten-month labor dispute. The company claims that employees stopped the production line and threatened and abused supervisors. As a result, Toyota said that it had “no other option but to declare a lockout of the premises.” The lockout will prevent 6,400 employees from going to work.

The New York Times reports that many destitute workers have been recruited to clean up the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. Some experts have expressed concern that these low-wage workers do not have the training they need to conduct cleanup operations safely. Deteriorating labor conditions at the plant may have contributed to a string of recent leaks and errors that caused environmental damage and put workers at risk.

Finally, on the opinion pages, Edward P. Lazear of the Wall Street Journal argues that the labor market may not have made as much progress in February as most analysts suggest. Mr. Lazear contends that one sign of our lack of progress is the length of the average workweek: the average workweek was 34.2 hours in February, down from 34.5 hours in September.

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