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Jobs may be up, but workers are still struggling

There have been a lot of words written in the last few years about income inequality. That is a good thing -- it is a problem that is gripping many American families as they struggle to make ends meet despite holding down jobs.

Infrastructure investment creates good-paying jobs.

But what does the term really mean? At a time when more and more people are working, things should be looking up, right? Well, no. Just because there are more low-wage jobs doesn't mean more workers can support themselves. And a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Board really drove home that point.

While there are some signs that Americans feel a bit more confident about their family's economic well-being, it doesn't mean they are prepared for an emergency where they would need money in a hurry. The Federal Reserve notes:

The survey results reveal a lack of economic preparedness among many adults. Only 53 percent of respondents indicate that they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Thirty-one percent of respondents report going without some form of medical care in the past year because they could not afford it.

And the news isn't much better when it comes to retirement. The study finds too many workers are not prepared for their golden years and many just plan to keep working:

Thirty-one percent of non-retirees have no retirement savings or pension, including nearly a quarter of those older than 45. Even among individuals who are saving, fewer than half of adults with self-directed retirement savings are mostly or very confident in their ability to make the right investment decisions when managing their retirement savings. 

Consistent with a lack of preparedness for retirement, 38 percent of non-retired respondents say that they either do not plan to retire or plan to keep working as long as possible. Among lower-income respondents, whose household income is less than $40,000 per year, 55 percent plan to keep working as long as possible or never plan to retire.

This nation needs an action plan to create middle-class jobs. It starts by investing in infrastructure that will create better roads, better transit and better energy networks. That would help not only workers but businesses as well. And it would boost the U.S. economy.

Workers shouldn't have to struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Elected officials need to value their contributions to society as much as they seem to value big business' campaign contributions. Now is the time to build, repair and maintain America!

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