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The squeezed middleThe pressure on ordinary workers in America and Britain$
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Sophia Parker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447308942

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447308942.001.0001

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date: 20 August 2017

Rising incomes and modest inequality: the high-employment route

Rising incomes and modest inequality: the high-employment route

Chapter:
(p.31) 1.2 Rising incomes and modest inequality: the high-employment route
Source:
The squeezed middle
Author(s):

Lane Kenworthy

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447308942.003.0003

This essay shows that there has only been one brief period since the 1970s in which real wages in the bottom half of the American income distribution have increased - the late 1990s. During this unusual period unemployment was low but this did not trigger a rise in inflation. In fact, a tight labour market led to improvements in job quality for low earners, as employers offered more fringe benefits to attract good workers. Given this evidence, the chapter argues that a high employment rate is an important policy goal when it comes to addressing stagnant wage growth, steeper rates of inequality and stubbornly high poverty levels.

Keywords:   Wages, Income, Labour market, Employment, Jobs, Wage growth, Poverty, Inequality

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