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Who’s Talking About Corporate Profits?


Around this time last year, both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that annualized third quarter corporate profits broke records, bringing in an excess of $1.66 trillion, leading to outcries from liberal circles about corporate excess while American families were struggling. The data were released by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which they do quarterly.

As we all know, the recent Occupy movements have made corporate profits in hard times a focal point for their outrage, and the 2010 BEA news release along with coverage from media outlets certainly played a role in bringing attention to the matter.

But there’s been no coverage of the 2011 BEA news release, which was put up on November 22. Why not? Is there something even more disturbing in there? Well, take a look. The numbers are right there in Table 11, the same table the New York Times cited in 2010. The 2011 annual rate of corporate profit is $1.98 trillion. To be fair, it’s not as big of an increase from last year, since the BEA corrected the 2010 profits to $1.83 trillion after all the numbers came in.

Let’s be clear on the numbers. Corporate profits are $1.98 trillion and there are 13.9 million unemployed people in the United States. That means that corporations are scheduled to profit at a rate of $142,000 per unemployed person. It looks like “job creators” could hire all unemployed people for a $45,000 per year salary and still have about $1.35 trillion to spare.

So now the inevitable questions arise. Who’s reporting on this issue? Is someone worried that the Occupy movements might get word and get even more outraged? Certainly such news is news-worthy. Given that, there are two possibilities here. One is that popular media outlets don’t want to rile up the Occupy movement any more than it currently is. The other is that they simply haven’t looked at the information closely due to incompetence, since they could surely sell more papers by making actually reporting on it.

Quentin Gee is a Graduate Student in Philosophy at UC Santa Barbara.

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