Wages

Productivity is not the problem

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The issue driving income inequality in the U.S. has not been a lack of productivity by American workers, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds. Instead it is that the lion's share of gains from increased productivity have gone to a tiny segment of wage earners at the top.

The big picture: After tracking closely in the three decades following World War II, from 1979 to 2017 productivity grew 70.3%, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers grew just 11.1%. That means productivity grew six times faster than typical worker pay.

Wave of states look to pass $15 minimum wage laws in 2019

Minimum wage protestors. Photo: Pacific Press/Getty Images

A federally mandated minimum-wage increase seems like a long-shot with the GOP-held Senate, so a collection of states are stepping up to help spearhead the "Fight for $15" movement.

Why it matters: Years-long strikes and rallies across the country have paid off, and several states with Democratically-controlled legislatures and governorships have made it easier to institute such policies with the goal of lifting people out of poverty.

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