Article 43

 

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Book - The State Of Working America 2006/2007

On Labor Day 2006, the ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE released its advance edition of THE STATE OF WORKING AMERICA 2006/2007.

Prepared biennially since 1988, EPI’s flagship publication sums up the problems and challenges facing American working families, presenting a wide variety of data on family incomes, taxes, wages, unemployment, wealth, and poverty data that enables the book’s authors to closely examine the impact of the economy on the living standards of the American people. The State of Working America 2006/2007 is an exhaustive reference work that will be welcomed by anyone eager for a comprehensive portrait of the economic well-being of the nation

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Americas working families continue to work hard to make ends meet, improve their living standards, and create better opportunities for their children. New economy or old, this remains the case today much as it was a century ago.

Yet there are clearly aspects of today’s economy that make it historically unique. Some of these tilt against the bargaining power of American workers: INCREASED global trade, LESS UNION membership, and more low-skilled and high-skilled IMMIGRATION. There are FEWER FAVORABLE SOCIAL NORMS that guide employer behavior or support POLICIES that provide adequate safety nets, PENSIONS, and HEALTH CARE arrangements.

Other new forces in play have the potential to lift the living standards of working families in ways hardly seen in this country for 30 years. Most important of these is a new, stronger productivity growth regime and a brief encounter with full employment in the latter 1990s that showed that, once workers bargaining power gets a boost, the benefits of this regime shift in productivity growth can be broadly shared.

In other words, the biggest challenge in what many have called the new economy is not growth per se, but rather how growth is DISTRIBUTED. Of course, economists and policy makers will be concerned with whether the economy is growing as fast and efficiently as it can, and they might turn to greater investments in public and private capital stock, more research and development, monetary policy that stresses full employment, and the educational upgrading of the workforce.

Yet, if the findings in the hundreds of tables and figures that follow can be reduced to one observation, it would be that, when it comes to an economy that is working for working families, growth in and of itself is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. The growth has to reach the people: THE BAKERS NEED TO BENEFIT FROM THE BREAD THEY CREATE each day of their working lives.

The benchmarks by which we judge the economy must reflect these distributional concerns, and we must construct policies and institutions to address them. If we do not - if our enhanced productive capacity continues to BENEFIT MOSTLY THE WEALTHIEST Americans we risk sacrificing bedrock principles that have historically DEFINED THE AMERICAN economic experience.

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Posted by Elvis on 09/14/06 •
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