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EPI | Raising America’s Pay - Why It’s Our Central Economic Policy Challenge

By Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, Lawrence Mishel, and Heidi Shierholz

From the introduction:
Slow and unequal wage growth in recent decades stems from a growing wedge between overall productivity and pay. In the three decades following World War II, hourly compensation of the vast majority of workers rose in line with productivity. But for most of the past generation (except for a brief period in the late 1990s), pay for the vast majority has lagged further and further behind overall productivity. This breakdown of pay growth has been especially evident in the last decade, affecting both college- and non-college-educated workers as well as blue- and white-collar workers.This paper argues that broad-based wage growth is necessary to address a constellation of economic challenges the United States faces: boosting income growth for low- and moderate-income Americans, checking or reversing the rise of income inequality, enhancing social mobility, reducing poverty, and aiding asset-building and retirement security. The paper also points out that strong wage growth for the vast majority can boost macroeconomic growth and stability in the medium run by closing the chronic shortfall in aggregate demand (a problem sometimes referred to as “secular stagnation”). Finally, the paper argues that any analyses of the causes of rising inequality and wage stagnation must consider the role of changes in labor market policies and business practices, which are given far too little attention by researchers and policymakers.
Read the rest here.

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