Mind the Gap


My colleague Pat Garofalo at the Wonk Room writes about some new wage and inequality data:

The ILO found that between 1995 and 2007, real wage growth in the United States was essentially 0 percent, and in 2009 wages will “decline by 0.5 percent in industrial countries and grow by no more than 1.1 per cent globally.” The Center for American Progress Action Fund has found that weekly wages were actually 0.3 percent lower in June 2008 than they were in March 2001.

This stagnation — which occurred at the same time that CEO pay steadily increased — has led to severe income inequality. The ILO found that the U.S. is one of the countries in which “the gap between top and bottom wages has increased most rapidly.” Indeed, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported recently that “in the United States, the richest 10 percent earn an average of US$93,000 — the highest level in the OECD. The poorest 10 percent earn an average of US$5,800 — about 20 percent lower than the OECD average.”

Needless to say, conservatives’ big idea about how to turn this around is to (a) pretend it’s not happening, (b) cut the capital gains tax rate so the rich can get richer, and (c) struggle mightily to block the Emloyee Free Choice Act lest we slip back into the dystopian universe in which unionization rates were higher and the fruits of economic growth were more broadly shared.