The State of Working America 12th Edition

Cumulative change in total economy productivity and real hourly compensation of selected groups of workers

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Chapter contents

  • Key findings
    • America’s vast middle class has suffered a ‘lost decade’ and faces the threat of another
    • Income and wage inequality have risen sharply over the last 30 years
    • Rising inequality is the major cause of wage stagnation for workers and of the failure of low- and middle-income families to appropriately benefit from growth
    • Economic policies caused increased inequality of wages and incomes
    • Claims that growing inequality has not hurt middle-income families are flawed
    • Growing income inequality has not been offset by increased mobility
    • Inequalities persist by race and gender
  • Economic history and policy as seen from below the top rungs of the wage and income ladder
  • The Great Recession: Causes and consequences
    This section contains these charts: 1A
    • A very condensed macroeconomic history of the Great Recession and its aftermath
      This section contains these charts: 1B
  • Economic ‘lost decades’: Weak growth for most Americans’ wages and incomes before and likely after the Great Recession
    • Weak labor demand at the heart of the lost decade
      This section contains these charts: 1.1 | 1C
    • Weak labor demand devastates key living standards
      This section contains these charts: 1D
    • Dim growth prospects forecast another lost decade
      This section contains these charts: 1E
    • Two key lessons from the lost decade
      This section contains these charts: 1F
  • Extraordinarily unequal growth before the lost decade: Rising inequality blocks income and wage growth from 1979 to 2007
    This section contains these charts: 1G | 1H | 1I | 1J | 1K
    • Income inequality and stagnating living standards
    • Wage inequality and the break between wages and productivity
      This section contains these charts: 1.2 | 1L
    • Strong income and wage growth in the atypical last half of the 1990s
    • Economic mobility has neither caused nor cured the damage done by rising inequality
      This section contains these charts: 1M | 1N
  • Today’s private economy: Not performing for middle-income Americans
    • Middle-income growth lags average income growth and historical growth rates
    • Social insurance programs, not private sources, account for the majority of middle-income households’ growth
    • Growing shares of income dedicated to holding families harmless against rising medical costs
    • Households have to work more to achieve income gains
    • Assessing what the private economy is really delivering to middle-income Americans
      This section contains these charts: 1.3
  • Today’s economy: Different outcomes by race and gender
    • Many more than just two Americas
      This section contains these charts: 1O | 1P
    • Male and female America
      This section contains these charts: 1.4 | 1.5
    • No one ‘American economy’
  • Conclusion: The struggling state of working America is policy-driven
    • The policy good for everybody in the fractured U.S. economy: Ensuring rapid recovery to full employment

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