In a new series of essays released for Labor Day, EPI researchers reflect on ways the U.S. economy still isn’t delivering for working people. While the nation’s unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent for the past year and a half, the authors argue that’s not enough to undo the damage from a decades-long policy assault on working people—we also need concerted policy efforts to raise wages, eliminate racial inequality, and fix our nation’s immigration system.
“Low unemployment is essential for a healthy labor market, but this is far from a strong economy for working people—there is major room for improvement,” said Thea Lee, President of EPI. “Wage growth remains stagnant, gender and racial wage gaps have increased in recent years, and erosion of government protections combined with corporate attacks on unions have weakened workers’ bargaining power.”
To address these problems, EPI’s researchers provide comprehensive analysis and policy solutions that would allow working people to finally benefit from the economic recovery. The series includes:
- Josh Bivens argues that wage growth happens if, and only if, policymakers make it a top priority.
- Heidi Shierholz discusses the importance of restoring labor unions in order to strengthen workers’ bargaining power.
- David Cooper, Elise Gould, and Ben Zipperer highlight another crucial labor market institution for bolstering workers’ wages—minimum wages.
- Jhacova Williams and Valerie Wilson highlight continued racial gaps in unemployment, and construct a new measure of underemployment—one based on the underutilization of workers’ credentials.
- Elise Gould and Valerie Wilson highlight the failure of today’s tighter labor market to deliver strong wage growth and close race- and gender-based wage gaps.
- Daniel Costa explains how employers have weaponized the nation’s immigration system to keep both immigrant and U.S.-born workers powerless and insecure.
These essays underscore the importance of understanding dynamics of gender, race, and immigration when crafting policy if we want to give all workers a fair shot at achieving faster wage growth and increased bargaining power.