The Capitalist Machine: Computerization, Workers’ Power, and the Decline in Labor’s Share within U.S. Industries

Source: Tali Kristal, American Sociological Review, Vol. 78 no. 3, June 2013

From a press release:
A new study suggests that the decline of labor unions, partly as an outcome of computerization, is the main reason why U.S. corporate profits have surged as a share of national income while workers’ wages and other compensation have declined. …The study, “The Capitalist Machine: Computerization, Workers’ Power, and the Decline in Labor’s Share within U.S. Industries,” which appears in the June issue of the American Sociological Review, explores an important dimension of economic inequality that has been largely overlooked in research and the national discourse….”It was highly unionized industries — construction, manufacturing, and transportation — that saw a large decline in labor’s share of income,” Kristal said. “By contrast, in the lightly unionized industries of trade, finance, and services, workers’ share stayed relatively constant or even increased. So, what we have is a large decrease in labor’s share of income and a significant increase in capitalists’ share in industries where unionization declined, and hardly any change in industries where unions never had much of a presence. This suggests that waning unionization, which led to the erosion of rank-and file workers’ bargaining power, was the main force behind the decline in labor’s share of national income.” In addition to the erosion of labor unions, Kristal found that rising unemployment as well as increasing imports from less-developed countries contributed to the decline in labor’s share….