August 6, 2013
By AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Current economic and labor market conditions do not deserve to be labeled a “recovery” – except as they concern the very richest among us. For the vast majority of Americans, the economy remains mediocre —more than four years after the official end of the recession.
A robust recovery would generate sufficient family-supporting jobs for all who are willing to work hard and play by the rules. Instead, job growth is weak and uneven – and the majority of new jobs are at the low end of the wage scale. Average weekly hours, average hourly wages and overtime hours are stagnant or declining.
This trend will not generate the self-sustaining economic recovery America’s working people deserve – especially if the dysfunction in the U.S. Congress, led by House Republicans and the radical right, continues to generate uncertainty and deep across-the-board cuts in government spending. These trends do not represent a formula for a return to a stable middle-class America, but rather more of the same boom and bust.
Without growing wages, we cannot sustain the American Dream, and we cannot grow wages with austerity policies. And a strong and vibrant middle class requires policies allowing workers to bargain collectively for good jobs, a safe workplace, and a voice on the job.
Policymakers must put the concerns of working families at the front and center of economic policy. That means repealing sequester and protecting the social insurance system. That means investments that drive job creation; measures to raise wages, including a large hike in the minimum wage; and measures to stop the leakage of spending and jobs via the trade deficit and off-shoring.
America’s working people stand ready to work with leaders committed to large-scale investments to create good jobs, to rebuild our middle class and lead us all forward.