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Hating the job

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New book tracks worker discontent
EPI senior writer David Kusnet has released a new book tracking the growing unhappiness of skilled workers in an age of extreme cost-cutting for short-term profits. Its title, Love the Work, Hate the Job (Wiley 2008), sums up the premise well. When pollsters ask people about both job satisfaction and work satisfaction, they find that a majority love their careers but not their working conditions. To illustrate why, Kusnet followed the workers at four companies in the Seattle area–Microsoft, Boeing, Kaiser Aluminum, and Northwest Hospital–in the turning-point year of 2000. He tells the stories of skilled and dedicated workers battling not so much for better pay and benefits as for respect and a say in the future of the business. A former speechwriter for Bill Clinton and co-author of the 2006 EPI book Talking Past Each Other, Kusnet will discuss the book and sign copies at EPI on Thursday July 31 at 3:30 p.m. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne will moderate the discussion, which will also feature Paul Almeida, president of the Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO and a leader of the Boeing engineers’ strike in 2000. RSVPs are now being accepted for this event.

Health care disparities a matter of life and death
Although life expectancy has grown for all Americans in recent decades, the gains have been increasingly uneven and dependant on income, as EPI economist Elise Gould shows in this week’s Economic Snapshot. In 1980, those with the highest socio-economic status had a life expectancy 2.8 years higher than those with the lowest status (75.8 versus 73.0 years, respectively). By 2000, that gap had grown: those in the top tenth had attained a life expectancy of 79.2 years-4.5 years more than those in the bottom tenth. Disparities in life expectancy also increased between the top and the middle tenth, and between the middle and the bottom.

Jared Bernstein: Keeping the blogosphere on track
EPI senior economist Jared Bernstein continues his prolific blogging, including pieces on the near-disasters at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (CNBC Guest Blog), the need for labor law reform (TPM Café), and the state of political economics (Huffington Post)–all in one week. Also note that Bernstein will address the Joint Economic Committee on July 23 on the serious impact of rising household costs and stagnant wages in a slumping economy.