Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jobs and Money

Jobs and money are circularly connected--no matter how you look at it, what you believe, or what platform you stand on. Every dollar spent can be connected to a job.  

So, I just finished watching the President's speech (9/08/11) on how to stimulate the economy, stimulate small businesses, and put people back to work.  The Jobs Bill makes sense and if people will take their blinders off and stop positioning on sides, look at the facts, there are many ways to make it happen!  The President made one key comment:  The American people cannot wait 14 months...they need help NOW.   He is so right!  

I am making significantly less money in 2011 than I was making in 2008.  Personally speaking, I have been making the exact same salary since 2008...yep, no raise, no additional bonus, for four years.  And, with the increased cost of living each year--food, gas, utilities--I am actually making much less now than I did in 2008, even though the salary figure is the same.  Now, I have been trying to count my blessings and not complain...I have a good job, with some significant pros--close to home, great group of co-workers, great location, etc., etc...especially when so many, many others are unemployed, have been laid off, or had hours reduced...but as each day passes, the pros are being significantly impacted by the cons. The stress is unbelievable.  Back in 2008 when I started making this salary, I was bumped up into a higher tax bracket, so after the first year, the take home pay amount each year has been less and less.  And, in 2010 when I had to switch jobs, I was no longer provided any health benefits through my employer....that is a huge impact on a paycheck when you have to pay for that out of your own pocket at 100%...and, three months after that, my husbands employer changed their health benefits package, and in order to keep the same monthly deductions so as not to decrease his paycheck, we had to agree to a $6,000 annual deductible!  Two months after that change, our daughter was injured in a college soccer game, costing more than $2500 in ER/health expenses that have to come right out of our pockets...oh, and because I received a "bonus" last year (I’ll explain the quotes laters), I just received two IRS tax bills totalling $2800, because I was not allowed to take the two tax credits in 2010 that I had taken in 2008 and 2009...WTF?  So, when I add all that up, I am actually making $15,000 less this year, than last year.   I know, I know, I got a bonus right?  Yes, I did, but a bonus means, just that, bonus--meaning, in addition to, windfall, extra, supplemental--something you could put in a savings account, or add to your retirement, or even buy something should NOT have to be absorbed by paying bills, making tax payments, or buying groceries--those are monthly expenses that should be covered by a paycheck, and a bonus should be a "safety" net/emergency fund if needed.  And, a bonus should not cause your taxes to be increased to make it completely null and void.  A pay raise allows you to adjust your tax deductions over the year to try to circumvent a tax burden later...a bonus doesn't allow for that and can make a very negative impact.  Working your way up through a company with promotions, or pay raises and bonuses is what most of us all work for’s the workers reason for going to work everyday…that one day we will be in a different, better place…but, without that there is no way to make a difference.  Not being able to take any steps forward is NOT what we work for...Its very frustrating and stressful! 

I'm sure you are thinking that I should ask for a raise in my next review/anniversary date.  And, I would agree with you, if I believed in doing that or if I had ever had to do that before...I have always been recognized for my efforts and each and every employer, even the evil ones, rewarded me with significant pay raises and bonuses.  I believe an employer that has benefited from my work product and received significant positive results, should recognize it and reward it with an offer of a raise vs. having to ask for one.  It is their responsibility to do so...and when results have exceeded expectations, a bonus should be provided as well...(FYI-most companies give bonuses so they don't have to pay taxes on the revenue.).  So, asking for a raise is really not something I feel I, or any employee should have to do...but, unfortunately, there are business owners that also don’t believe in giving raises, only year end bonuses...they want to be able to give bonuses at the end of the year vs. paying employees at a higher rate...this is very short-sighted...I can appreciate trying to protect the company and the greater good, by ensuring that jobs can be protected if spending is kept to a minimum--that is totally fair.  However, I strongly believe, actually I can attest to the fact that the stress on the employees is far, far greater than any unknown.  Morale suffers, quality of life suffers, and work product suffers.  And, when bonuses are no longer the advantage they once were, they can even become an insult.   Showing employees that they are valuable and are an asset is done through appropriate pay and bonuses are just an added example of how much they are appreciated...the work wouldn't get done without them.  Other perks and “benefits” are just icing on the cake, and are what sets employers apart to attract and retain this talent.  But, I’m digressing…that’s a topic for another day.  For now, it is critical that workers at all levels – C-Suite to Mailroom work and make appropriate wages, pay fair share taxes, and have discretionary income to energize the economy.  Jobs and money are circular.  

So, I know that my situation may not appear to be exactly what the President was talking about, but some of the issues I am dealing with are directly related to the job and economy issues we all are suffering from today.   The President was right, as an American and a worker, we need help now!

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