Committee Democrats Push Policies to Address Wage Stagnation, Income Inequality

WASHINGTON – Today, at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, Committee Democrats highlighted the need for policies addressing wage stagnation and income inequality. At the hearing, entitled “Growth, Opportunity, and Change in the U.S. Labor Market and the American Workforce,” Democrats pointed to protracted wage stagnation – which has continued despite a continuing decline in the unemployment rate – as a sign that markets alone will not solve the problem of stagnant wages, and that labor market institutions are failing to protect workers.

From 1973 to 2016, the typical worker saw an increase in wages of just 13 percent, despite overall productivity rising almost 75 percent.

““The link between rising productivity and increasing worker pay is broken,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24). “These wage trends are more than just a line on the chart. This is a real blow to workers across the country who have been working hard and struggling to get by while health care and other costs go up.”

Top-level labor market indicators have been moving in a positive direction since the Obama administration rescued the country from the depths of the Great Recession.  Unfortunately, those positive numbers have not translated into higher wage for workers. Wage stagnation has worsened under the Trump administration, which has been working with congressional Republicans to further undermine workers’ ability to get a fair return on their work.

“Continued assaults on collective bargaining and the failure to raise the minimum wage are shifting the power balance between workers and employers,” said Dr. William Spriggs, Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO and Professor of Economics at Howard University. “This includes proposals to roll back overtime protections, undermine safeguards for workers’ hard earned retirement savings, and weaken worker safety by speeding up hog slaughter lines and eroding OSHA protections from exposure to beryllium.”

To combat wage stagnation and income inequality, Committee Democrats support policies such as raising the minimum wage, strengthening overtime protections, reinforcing worker safety law, and protecting workers’ freedom to join unions.

OPENING STATEMENT: Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24)

WITNESS TESTIMONY: William Spriggs, Ph.D., Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO and Professor of Economics at Howard University


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