It seems fitting to cite a recent poll conducted by Hart Research Associates on Labor Day, which is meant to recognize workers for their contributions. The small voter poll (801 likely voters) found that even those who are employed have been impacted by the recession.
Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said that either they or someone they know has been affected by wages that lag behind the cost of living. Sixty-five percent said that they or someone they know has suffered a reduction in wages. One-third of those polled has had a family member directly impacted. (Keep in mind, only 801 people were surveyed.)
Highlights From The Hart Poll.
• 62 percent of non-college graduates are facing challenging/difficult times.
• 49 percent of college-educated peers are facing challenging/difficult times.
• 62 percent of blue collar workers are having personal economic difficulty.
• 51 percent of white collar and 52 percent of professionals are having personal economic difficulty.
• 71 percent of Hispanics, 66 percent of African Americans, and 53 percent of caucasians are struggling.
The challenges that have impacted these Americans the most have been wages and salaries not keeping up with inflation (46 percent), reduced hours at work (32 percent), and loss of job (27 percent). Change to Win, which commissioned the survey, is using the data as part of a campaign to lobby government to promote higher wages.
Unfortunately, higher wages generally diminishes the number of workers and increases unemployment. This, in turn, diminishes demand and companies are forced to lay off even more people or suggest pay freezes and/or salary reductions to retain staff. Even local, state, and federal governments operate under this model.
Government workers are being asked to forego merit pay to help keep departmental budgets in line. And when government cannot come to such a consensus, it cuts workers and adds to unemployment. In addition, more regulations tend to convince companies to delay hiring by the private sector.
The Economy Relies On The Success Of Small Business.
If anyone wants to understand the American economy, look to small business owners. Currently, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, staff more than half of all private sector employees, and are responsible for generating 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years (SBA). These firms are also the most likely to have owners who make marginally more than employees (unlike corporate CEOs, whose salaries are often cited in these studies).
Likewise, the study also shows why most Americans have an aversion to higher taxes. The majority consists of individuals who are already struggling against a dollar that doesn't go as far and small business owners already struggling to keep the doors open and wondering how they are going to pay for additional mandates.
While this might seem dour for a day most Americans consider the last day of summer, there are three takeaways. Good employers and employees are in this together. The private sector, especially small business, is the key to turning the economy around. And if you're a marketer, it might give you pause in considering the environment in which your messages are sent.