Investing in infrastructure improvements and boosting union membership are key component to rebuilding the U.S. middle class the remains financially underwater from where it was at the dawn of the 21st century, a new Center for American Progress (CAP) report states.
The study notes that while middle-class household wealth has rebounded slightly from its lowest Great Recession levels, it still comes in about $68,000 short of where it was in 2001. That is largely due to the fact that wages continue to lag for everyday Americans, CAP finds. Meanwhile, the economy has spurred significant growth for the most wealthy.
The next president will be tasked with turning around the economic fortunes for the majority of Americans. “A policy agenda focused on the middle class must invest in the American people and productivity; strengthen worker voice and standards; ensure financial stability and vibrant, long-term oriented competition; and address the genuine challenges of globalization,” said Andy Green, managing director of economic policy at CAP.
The issues raised in the document largely echo those put forward by the Teamsters one year ago when it released its “Let’s Get America Working” platform. The union stressed infrastructure investment as a key pillar in reviving good-paying U.S. jobs, as well as improving union membership, worker training and education as well as retirement security. Those points are also stressed by CAP in its report.
CAP’s document also examines cost increases associated with top concerns of middle-class security—including child care, housing, higher education, and healthcare—and offers recommendations to enable more affordable access to these middle-class essentials. The report further looks at how these economic trends are affecting some of the United States’ most vulnerable populations and provides policy recommendations specifically targeted at ensuring that all Americans can participate in the economic recovery.
The more people look at the economic problems facing this country, they more they realize that rebuilding the middle class is a necessary step to ensure true U.S. prosperity. The full choir is now singing this tune. It’s time for elected officials to really listen.