Raising America’s Pay
An initiative of the Economic Policy Institute
Right now there is much debate over what to do about rising income inequality in America. These discussions too often miss that the key to shared prosperity is to foster wage growth. Pay of the vast majority of Americans has been stuck for decades, even though productivity and earnings at the top are escalating. Americans are working harder, more productively, and with more education than ever, but are treading water, as an enormous and ever-increasing share of income growth goes to corporate profits and executive pay. This is a solvable problem. It can be traced in no small part to policies that have allowed labor standards, business practices, and ideas of fairness to increasingly favor employers at the expense of workers.
That is why the Economic Policy Institute launched Raising America’s Pay, a multiyear research and public education initiative to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority. By explaining wage and benefit patterns—and the role of labor market policies and practices in suppressing pay—the initiative is identifying policies that will generate broad-based wage growth. This work is connecting with and supporting civic engagement and community organizing groups working on pay and job quality issues to support their campaigns. Click on the research and events highlighted here to learn what’s been happening to Americans’ pay and what we can do about it. More on the initiative »
Raising America’s Pay: Why It’s Our Central Economic Policy Challenge | Report
The Raising America’s Pay launch report makes the case that broad-based wage growth is the key to reversing the rise of income inequality, enhancing social mobility, reducing poverty, boosting middle-class incomes, and aiding asset-building and retirement security.
How to Raise Wages: Policies That Work and Policies That Don’t | Report
Wage stagnation is not inevitable. It is the direct result of public policy choices on behalf of those with the most power and wealth that have suppressed wage growth for the vast majority in recent decades. Thus, because wage stagnation was caused by policy, it can be alleviated by policy.
The Agenda to Raise America’s Pay | Agenda
Wage suppression is the result of intentional policy choices, and it can be reversed by changing policy. To raise Americans’ wages, policymakers must tilt bargaining power back to workers. Here’s how.
Labor Secretary Perez: We Can Do This | Multimedia
We are up to the challenge of tackling wage stagnation, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez declared at the June 4 launch of Raising America’s Pay. He noted the administration’s efforts to raise wages by working to raise the minimum wage, extend protections for overtime pay, and increase the wages paid by contractors—and he affirmed the importance of restoring workers’ rights to collective bargaining.
New CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio Sets Off Alarms | Report
“The fact that CEOs make almost 300 times what workers make should set off alarms,” said EPI President Lawrence Mishel of EPI’s 2014 report on CEO pay. CEOs at the top 350 firms earned an average of $15.2 million in 2013, up 937% since 1978. CEO pay is growing faster than worker pay (up only 10.2 percent), the stock market, and the wages of the top 0.1%.
Wages vs. Productivity: Only One Is Going Up | Chart
The huge gap between rising incomes at the top and stagnating pay for the rest of us shows that workers are no longer benefiting from their rising productivity. Before 1979, worker pay and productivity grew in tandem. But since 1979, productivity has grown eight times faster than typical worker pay (hourly compensation of production/nonsupervisory workers).
Wage Calculator: $ You Lose | Interactive
Today, the gap between American workers’ productivity and their wages is at an all-time high. EPI’s “potential wages” calculator shows you what you’d be making if wages had grown with productivity.
Wage Stagnation Is a Solvable Problem | Report
Currently, when wage stagnation is identified as a problem, it is wrongly presumed to stem solely from globalization and technology— factors people assume we either cannot or should not change. We can tackle the policy decisions and business practices that have suppressed wages, including the decline of collective bargaining, expansion of workplace abuses such as wage theft, misclassification of workers as independent contractors, and unpaid overtime. As this EPI report explains, raising the federal minimum wage is one place to start.