[OPE-L:3466] Re: labour-power shortages

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 04:40:36 -0700 (PDT)

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Alejandro V B wrote in [OPE-L:3464]:

> In poor countries unemployment
> seems not so high. In Mexico is 5.5% this year. Nevertheless unemployment
> is quite different in both two kind of countries: In poor countries
> Industrial Reserve Army (IRA) is much bigger than unemployment because
> millions of workers are precarious workers that would switch to better
> jobs if they could. Some times such precarious workers are called
> subeployees and in Mexico a figure of 30 0.000000or IRA maybe is good proxi for
> it.

In industrial capitalist economies also I suspect that most workers would
switch jobs for better ones if they could. :-)

What do you mean by the expression "subemployees" in the above context? Do
you mean that they are _under_employed (e.g. working part-time) or does
this category include petty commodity producers who exist outside of the
_direct_ capital/wage-labour relation in the so-called "informal sector"?
There are, of course, many studies in development literature which suggest
that non-wage-labour in this sector has become a major source of income
for the poor in urban areas in many less developed capitalist countries.

> The explanation for this is:
> 1. The rate of profit limits the rate of accumulation of capital.
> 2. The rate of accumulation of capital and the behavior of organic
> composition of capital determine the growth of employment.
> 3. There are evidence of falling rate of profit and this is because
> rising organic composition of capital (Dumenil et al) and because the
> rising of unproductive labor (Moseley).

This _may_ be the case if we look at capitalism as a world system.
However, I wonder whether the explanation is the same when we consider
differences among advanced and less developed national economies. That is,
when we consider the enormous unemployment and poverty existing in less
developed economies, I think we have to examine (among other
topics) international trade, unequal compositions of capital, and IMF and
World Bank "structural adjustment policies". Perhaps a discussion of
"Neo-liberalism" might be in order if we are to examine these questions
more concretely.

In Solidarity,