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One simple question—Are wages rising?—is as central to the health of our democracy as it is to the health of our economy. For the last few decades, the U.S. economy has experienced real wage stagnation. On February 28, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution hosted a forum to explore the most effective policy options to revitalize wage growth.
One simple question—are wages rising?—is as central to the health of our democracy as it is to the health of our economy. This book presents evidence and analysis that detail why wages have been stagnant for so many workers, while also identifying public policies that could effectively contribute to the growth in productivity and wages that are core parts of improving living standards for all Americans. These proposals include greater support for policies that increase human capital, boost worker mobility, strengthen worker bargaining power, and sustain robust labor demand.
Lifetime incomes have stagnated significantly since the 1960s, with young workers earning less than the previous generation early in their careers, resulting in lower lifetime incomes. These trends coincided with a stagnation of educational attainment for men, as well as rising income disparities among workers with some college experience. In light of these facts, this paper presents policy proposals that aim to boost wage growth for younger workers.