The Gallup Poll has just released an interesting poll about working Americans (those who currently have jobs). The poll surveyed 492 random adults in all states between August 9th and 12th. It's not real accurate, having a margin of error of about 6 points, but it's still interesting.
They asked the respondents how they felt about their jobs -- i.e., are they worried about different aspects of their job. It showed that about 40% of workers are worried that their current benefits will be reduced, 28% are afraid they might be laid off or have their wages reduced, and 26% fear having their hours cut back. About 9% are afraid that their employer will outsource their job to another country.
And it's even worse among those who do not have a college education. About 42% of them think their benefits might be reduced, 34% fear being laid off, 33% think their hours might be cut back, and 31% are afraid of being laid off.
And personally, I think their fears are justifiable. There are around 20 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, and a few million of them would jump at the chance to have a job, and they would even accept a low-wage job with no benefits. While many workers are either unemployed or in fear of losing their jobs, employers love the current job market -- where they can find all the workers they need without offering benefits or high wages.
Now some of you may be thinking that employers wouldn't be so hard-hearted as to reduce benefits or wages on current jobs. That's wishful thinking. Benefits and decent wages had to be fought for by unions (who earned them with the shedding of union blood). The capitalist employers never gave anything that wasn't fought for by workers, and they would be happy to take back all the advances granted to workers (because it would mean a few more pennies of profit). Don't forget, corporations are still sending American jobs to foreign countries (AIG just announced they are sending a bunch of Texas data processing jobs to the Philippines).
And job benefits are not as widespread as you might imagine. According to the Department of Labor, only 59% of Americans get any kind of paid time off from their job. That means a full 41% of all workers don't get any kind of paid leave at all (not vacation or sick leave). If they are too sick to work (something that happens to all workers sooner or later), then they just don't get paid -- and that's something most workers can't afford. Of course, we are the ONLY developed nation that does not guarantee any kind of paid leave at all.
Will we start to see wages and benefits reduced and more jobs outsourced. Of course we will. Employers, especially corporations don't care about workers -- but only about increasing profits. And if that can do that on the backs of workers, they will.