Every month, the Labor Department’s jobs report helps shine a light on the growth of overall wages, which has been slow in recent years. But what gets far less attention are the other components of compensation—health insurance, paid leave, retirement benefits—that in recent years have generally outpaced wage growth, as shown in new Labor Department data released Friday.
And isn’t that a travesty? Used to be, in the ’50s and early ’60s, these benefits—including the pensions that were those retirement benefits were perks an employer used to induce top performers to work for him and not someone else. Remember when “full dental” was such a big deal?
It needs to go back to that.
I’d rather have the pay, and I’m happy to be responsible for my own outcomes. Depending on others for my benefits leaves me…vulnerable to those others, from changing attitudes of those others to the ability of those others to continue paying the benefits. See, for instance, all the public pension bankruptcies and impending bankruptcies and all the private company pension plans that are underfunded.
Note here, too: it’s not the 401(k) plans and other defined contribution retirement plans—plans for which the individual contributor is solely responsible—that are going broke. If they’re underfunded, too, that’s the choice of the plan holders; it’s not inflicted on them by their employers, their unions, or their government “pension” legislator/managers. Furthermore, the failure of an individual defined benefit plan affects only that plan’s holder; it has no effect on others. The failure of a retirement plan managed by others for entire groups hammers everyone in those groups dragooned into participating.