Low-Wage Nation: Poverty and Inequality Are Threatening Our Democracy
Published on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 by OtherWords Low-Wage Nation: Poverty and Inequality Are Threatening Our Democracy
by Peter Edelman
With its catchy "We are the 99 Percent" slogan, the Occupy movement focused millions of Americans on our nation's chronic inequality. As that movement regains momentum, it must pay more attention to the whole 99 percent.
We certainly should worry about how the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans isn't paying its fair share of the cost of running the country. But we should be just as worried about how people at the other end are doing.
Why so much low-wage work? Because over the past 40 years, well-paying industrial jobs disappeared, unions lost much of their clout, the minimum wage stagnated, and the field of competition in many areas became globalized.
The result: half of U.S. jobs now pay $34,000 or less a year. A quarter of U.S. jobs pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. And the wages for those jobs have been stuck for four decades. Today, they pay only 7 percent more than they did in 1973. .................(more)