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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Good Jobs Strategy

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Digby Jones

Jobs in the United States that once featured good pay and decent benefits in manufacturing, services, and information technology have gone overseas at full-throttle pace in the past several decades. This has decimated America’s middle class, and in it’s wake has set off a chain reaction of problems for the country as a whole.

Restaurants, Car Dealerships, Hotels, and a host of other businesses that prominently dot the urban landscape of the U.S.A. have understandably suffered as a result of a hollowed-out middle class which is now relegated to low (or no) wages.

Zeynep Ton, an M.I.T. Sloan School of Management Professor, uses this recent TED event in Massachusetts to draw on a decade of research that challenges whether there really is a trade-off between offering low prices and paying low wages in this fairly new “bad job” dominated economy.

Just what are bad jobs? They are most often service-sector jobs which pay poverty-level wages, have chaotic schedules, offer the false hope of career advancement, have poorly designed work, and offer no sense of purpose or self-satisfaction when the day is done.

Take for example a retail employee which Zeynep once interviewed, who said that “We are throwaways who are a dime a dozen… just human robots, really”.

Defenders of this system have argued that American corporations, to stay competitive internationally, must cut wages and benefits to a minimum and essentially squeeze as much productive value as possible out of each worker.

However, Zeynep argues that good jobs and happy, well-compensated employees are in fact a key element of a virtuous cycle for companies, which ultimately results in low prices and increased profitability. She focuses on retailing, citing some popular chains such as Costco and Trader Joe’s. Both of those companies offer good pay and benefits to their full-time employees, all while offering prices which closely compare to some of their “bad job” competition such as Sam’s Club.

This article first appeared on Ingenious Press. Follow us on our Facebook and Twitter Pages for weekly updates on independent news and other alternative media.

Learn more about Zeynep Ton at

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