Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Under Attack: America's Middle Class & The Jobs Crisis

Heather C. McGhee, Tamara Draut, Bob Herbert

America's strong and vibrant middle class didn't just happen. It was built brick by brick in the decades after World War II by hard work and workers' strength in numbers that came from the unions that represented them. Unions made sure that as our nation's wealth and productivity grew, so too did the income and benefits of the people who worked hard to create that wealth. For decades, our nation's prosperity was widely shared-wages increased and more employers provided their workers with health insurance, pensions, and paid time off. The middle class was also built by government policies that invested in infrastructure and basic science, built up and expanded social insurance and safety net programs, and supported homeownership and made a college education accessible to a new generation.

These briefs provide an overview of the economic challenges facing the middle class in various states. They analyze thirty year trends in earnings, employment, benefits and housing and child care costs. They also put a spotlight on young adults, highlighting how our future middle class is threatened. Now is the time for citizens, workers, employers, and policymakers to come together once again to rebuild pathways to the middle class, create good jobs with fair pay and decent benefits, and ensure that prosperity is broadly shared for the next generation.

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