This Week in Poverty: '90 Percent of Workers Aren’t Getting Bupkis'

By:  Greg Kaufmann

One of the obstacles to addressing poverty in this country is that too many people think of low-income people as different, flawed or less than, which often leads not only to a lack of empathy but to outright blame.

However, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows just how much Americans across the economic spectrum have in common when it comes to stagnating wages.

“The bottom 99 percent may be a bit of an exaggeration but it’s not much,” said EPI president Lawrence Mishel, who co-authored A Decade of Flat Wages with economist Heidi Shierholz. “In an era when the only people moving ahead are those with an advanced degree—and that’s just 12 percent of the workforce—we shouldn’t partition off people at the low end as if they are totally distinct.”

The report demonstrates that during the recession and its aftermath, from 2007 to 2012, wages fell for the entire bottom 70 percent of workers despite productivity growth of 7.7 percent. But Mishel emphasizes that the cause of stagnating wages isn’t the recession.

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