First, I always consider the source. PBS gets funded partially by forced wealth redistribution. Naturally they have a perspective not shared by people who work for private industry and don't take from the system.
ANDREW SMITHERS: The change in the way company managements are remunerated has been dramatic in this century. Salaries have ceased to be the main source of income to senior management, with bonuses and options taking over. There has been major change in management incentives and it should not cause surprise, though it evidently has to most economists, that management behavior has changed. The current incentives discourage investment and encourage high profit margins.
This is dangerous for companies' long-term prospects as it increases their risk of losing market share and reduces their ability to reduce costs. It is very damaging for the economy, but it maximizes the income of managements. Senior management positions change frequently, so if management wish to get rich, they have to get rich quickly. I am not alone in this diagnosis. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York comes to the same conclusion from a theoretical analysis as I have come from data analysis.
I do not see a trend in this plot.
Rather what I see is economic cycles. One nasty one that makes management look "evil" happened right in the midst of WWII. What's up with that? When you think about it, it has a lot to do with how these statistics were put together, and how the economy can change on a dime.
Markets self-correct. If a company isn't investing in its future, then they will lose out to other companies that do. Ultimately the survival of a company isn't about whether this or that part of the employee population is getting a piece of the pie, but rather whether the activity within the company is sustainable.
Meanwhile... that which constitutes "labor" is a dieing paradigm. Much of the work done in my company is efficiently run by people like yours truly who operate servers that do my work. Much money is put into the hardware and software, and my specialized work is force-multiplied by technology. Hence I do not work in a labor intensive business. That which constitutes profit - which is only a few percent of total revenue anyway - is then proportionally fairly high with respect to "labor" costs.
For the record, companies do *not* exist to employ people. They exist to turn a profit for the owners and/or shareholders. Employment is a fringe benefit of said economic activity. Requiring companies to put more revenue into labor (to what end???) and less towards profit is anathema to the raison d'etre of the company.
Also... the uncertain economic market is causing companies not to hire. Until the federal government stops being stupid, companies will continue not to hire.