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 »
The State of American Wages 2017: Wages have finally recovered from the blow of the Great Recession but are still growing too slowly and unequally
Rising wage inequality has been a defining feature of the American economy for nearly four decades. In 2017, with an improving economy, all deciles in the overall wage distribution have improved, meaning most workers finally have higher hourly wages now than in 2007, the labor market peak before the Great Recession hit. However, large gaps by gender, race, and wage level remain, and some of these gaps are increasing.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift wages for 41 million American workers
Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly lift the wages of 22.5 million workers and directly or indirectly lift wages for 41.5 million workers, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. workers. The workers who would receive a pay increase are overwhelmingly adult workers, most of whom work full time in regular jobs, often to support a family.
Balancing paychecks and public assistance: How higher wages would strengthen what government can do
Higher hourly wages for low- and middle-wage workers, achievable through a variety of labor-market policies, would unambiguously generate savings in government safety-net and income-support programs—savings that could be used to strengthen and expand anti-poverty programs or make critical public investments to boost productivity and grow the economy.
Closing the pay gap and beyond: A comprehensive strategy for improving economic security for women and families
Closing the gender wage gap is absolutely essential to helping women achieve economic security. But to bring genuine economic security to American women and their families, we must also reverse the decades-long trend of stagnant wages for the vast majority of workers.
Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker’s Pay: Why It Matters and Why It’s Real
The data series and methods we use to construct our graph of the growing gap between productivity and typical worker pay best capture how income generated in an average hour of work in the U.S. economy has not trickled down to raise hourly pay for typical workers.
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.
Productivity-Pay Gap | Economic Indicator
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.