October 11, 2021

When the bourgeois pocketbook substitutes for evidence

Under capitalism we know employers want to capture as much of the surplus value as they can for themselves, and pay workers just enough to reproduce their class.

Remember over the summer, even as the Delta variant surged, when governors started cutting the federal unemployment emergency supplement, on the grounds that such ‘high’ benefits were keeping the working class fat and lazy?

The evidence debunking the governors’ pretext came in last Friday, as US DOL reported the economy only added 194,000 jobs in September—the first full month after all such benefits were cut off— the smallest gain since December 2020. Many workers, especially women, exited the labor force last month, leading to a smaller pool of labor and driving the unemployment rate lower.

Many people are avoiding the workforce for fear of catching the coronavirus, according to an August survey by the job-search website Indeed. Other factors include parents not wanting to take jobs outside their home at a time when Covid outbreaks have pushed some classes into quarantine and led to temporary school closures, and daycare centers have limited staff. For others, the pandemic caused some to re-evaluate the choice between working and staying out of the workforce to care for family members.

The slowing growth in the job market is especially apparent among women, whose labor-force participation shrank among both the older and younger. Not only are women driving this decline, but they are more likely to be so-called marginally attached workers—those who aren’t in the labor force but want to work, are available for work and had looked for a job some time in the prior year.

Overall, the number of people not in the labor force who cited the pandemic as the reason they didn’t look for jobs rose last month for the first time since January, reaching 1.6 million.

The capitalists have removed the ‘carrot’ of ‘enhanced’ unemployment on the pretext workers were fat and lazy, while the evidence we now know is contrary—as may be expected when bourgeois interests substitutes for evidence. The trick then, will be for the capitalists to use their sticks to beat workers back to work, without injuring so much that too many are pushed into ”the sphere of pauperism” and hence largely useless to employers.

Notes

Capital Volume III, Chapter 14, Counteracting Factors, Section IV