The state of working America

November 2, 2012

Afternoon Shift

Lawrence Mishel is the president of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. and co-author of The State of Working America; a book which former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich says “remains unrivaled as the most-trusted source for a comprehensive understanding of how working Americans and their families are faring in today’s economy.”  

Lawrence Mishel joined Afternoon Shift Rick Kogan for a conversation about economic inequality and what it means for the American dream.

"For the last ten years there has been no wage growth relative to inflation. In other words, the purchasing power of people's wages have not grown at all. That includes college graduates as well as high school graduates. Basically, all workers. That means this happened before the current recession."

"The reason were having the problems in my view, is that there's a broad loss of bargaining power by individual workers; it's the fact that we have a very low minimum wage - it's even lower than it was forty years ago and in that time period people at the bottom of the wage scale are much more educated now. Productivity has doubled but people at the bottom end are making less. We have a large erosion of collective bargaining, and that's not an accident. We have competition from low wages countries on particular terms." 

Listen to the rest of the conversation above.