The race to the lowest global common denominator on worker pay/benefits continued, despite the great recession loosening its grip. The Washington D.C. Baltimore region was more durable than most. Yet even here, there are disturbing signs. WaPo reported:
The fifth annual Washington-Baltimore Metro Region Benefits Survey Report, a 247-page study, is based on a survey of 256 public and private employers with a total workforce of more than 224,000. Participants include the American Bankers Association, the Carlyle Group, Loudoun County government, Inova Health System, the Pew Research Center and CACI.The report indicates employees picking up a greater share of health care costs:
With rising health-care costs, employers continue to shift more of those expenses to workers. This year, 25 percent said they raised co-payments, compared with 23 percent in 2009 and 20 percent in 2008.
Workers are being hit hardest by out-of-pocket expenses for medical care; 13 percent of employers said their workers experienced increases in those costs this year, compared with 8 percent in 2009 and 4 percent in 2008.
Workers also bear a greater portion of their retirement costs:
The shift from pension to employee-contributed 401(k) and 403(b) plans continued to accelerate. This year, 98 percent said they offered employee-contributed retirement plans, compared with 72 percent last year. Only 19 percent of employers this year said they offered pension plans, compared with 23 percent last year.
After suspending matches for retirement programs in 2009, many employers said they resumed them this year, in many cases at 10 percent, down from 13.5 percent before the recession.
The race to the bottom is an ultra-marathon. Step by step employees shoulder a greater portion of their health care and retirement.
Oddly, Obama's health reform furthers this pattern in health care. Employers benefit from reform's seismic shift, intended to make America more competitive in a global economy. It remains to be seen what Obama's Deficit Commission does with retirement, but the lingo is eerily similar.