Dignity and a Just Wage for Workers

I believe in the dignity of work and a worker’s right to a just wage. Income inequality, the collapse of the American middle class, the decoupling of increased productivity and growth in wages pose a destabilizing risk to our democracy and the security of our citizens. In 1980, the top 1% of Americans earned on average 27 times more than the bottom 50%, while today they earn 81 times more1. The average income for Americans in the bottom 50% has stagnated at $16,000 for over 35 years. In Indiana, the entire bottom 99% earn on average 16.5 times less than those in the top 1%2. From 1979 to 2007, the top 1% of Hoosiers experienced income growth at 115.3%, while the bottom 99% only experienced it at 12.6%. The top 1% of Hoosiers have captured almost half of the income growth across the last three decades. We must change this trajectory by advocating for a higher minimum wage, writing laws that empower workers, and recognizing the dignity and importance of work. We must make the American Dream accessible for all.

1 Piketty et al. 2016, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 22945, http://www.nber.org/papers/w22945
2 Sommeiller et al. 2016, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Income inequality in the US by state, metropolitan area, and county, http://www.epi.org/publication/income-inequality-in-the-us/
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