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Anxious with Reason

The 21st century had been a rough ride for the American worker even before the recent shockwaves on Wall Street. While the U.S. economy saw broad gains in productivity and consistent GDP growth, overall median incomes remained flat in real dollar terms. With credit tightening, foreclosures rising and energy prices expected to remain at historical highs for the foreseeable future, just staying afloat in 2008 is therefore a far greater challenge than at the turn of the century. New America's Next Social Contract Initiative is dedicated to fostering economic opportunity and economic security for all Americans. With this in mind, we are proud to bring together a panel of experts who have delved deeply into the concerns of American workers and how employers might address these concerns and prosper in a turbulent economic time. Dr Cliff Zukin and Dr Carl Van Horn of Rutgers University's Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, are co-authors of The Anxious American Worker the latest in the school's "Worktrends" series on Americans' attitudes about work, employers and government. The results of their most recent survey, conducted in the spring of 2008, depict a broad insecurity among the workforce-feelings that have undoubtedly spiked in the last few weeks. In Love the Work, Hate the Job, David Kusnet details labor-management strife at four major Seattle firms in the early part of the decade, using these examples to highlight many of the same concerns identified by Zukin and Van Horn. The instability among blue and white-collar employees alike, even at corporate giants like Boeing and Microsoft, paints a disturbing picture for the future of the American worker.
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