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Wages And Profits: More Balanced Than You Think


Economic Trends

WAGES AND PROFITS: MORE BALANCED THAN YOU THINK

Call it the dog that didn't bark in the night. It's common wisdom that the economy is going through an unprecedented squeeze on jobs and wages. At the same time, the rolling tide of corporate downsizing and new technology was supposed to lift productivity and profits.

Yet judging by the numbers, there is no sign that capital has gained the upper hand in its struggle with labor. According to Commerce Dept. figures, in the second quarter of 1993, the share of national income going to wages and salaries was 60.5%. That's down just slightly from the 61% average in the years 1985-89. And despite the rebound in profits over the past two years, corporations still got only 8.7% of national income in 1993's second quarter, unchanged from the 1985-89 period.

That suggests that there has been no big shift from wages and salaries to profits. Instead, corporations have been cutting costs just to survive rather than to take a bigger share of the national income pie. If so, when normal growth resumes, wages will rise for workers just as profits will for companies.By MICHAEL J. MANDEL


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