America needs a raise. Well, most of America anyway
A news story in The Cleveland Plain Dealer today calls attention to a report we released recently about a growing number of low-income working families, which includes a disproportionate share of minority families.
As low-wage jobs continue to increase, the economic gap between white and minority working-poor families has widened since the recession, and stands at 25 percent, according to the Working Poor Families Project.
"Working a steady job no longer offers a reliable stepping stone to the middle class," writes Plain Dealer reporter Olivera Perkins. "The report echoes other research about post-recession job growth in the United States: too few middle-income ones being created, but lots of low-wage jobs."
There is much Ohio can do to improve conditions for low-income families. Policy Matters Executive Director Amy Hanauer points out in the story that restoring need-based educational financial aid, improving childcare assistance and raising the minimum wage to $10.50 would go a long way.
Our friends at the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. identify wage stagnation the country's key economic challenge -- a problem that results from public policy decisions made on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. EPI recently released "The Agenda to Raise America's Pay," a blueprint of solutions that policymakers should adopt to reverse 30-plus years of wage stagnation.
The solutions include raising the minimum wage, strengthening collective bargaining rights, updating overtime rules, providing earned sick leave and family leave, ending discriminatory practices that contribute to race and gender inequalities and using the tax code to restrain the incomes of the top 1 percent.
"Unfortunately, too many people believe nothing can be done to lift wages," EPI President Lawrence Mishel said in announcing the agenda. "They are wrong. Policies can be adopted which strengthen workers' ability to obtain higher wages."
-- Harlan Spector