The trends described in this special report paint a picture of an economy that was in trouble long before the current recession took hold -- at least from the standpoint of the American worker. Whether their distress is measured by stagnant wages or contingent jobs or violations of core labor laws, today's workers face a daunting labor market likely to provide them with fewer opportunities than their parents had.
Unless, of course, we do something about it. It took years to dismantle the good-jobs framework that this country tried (however imperfectly) to put together from the 1930s until the 1970s, and it will take years to build it back up. But someone needs to pave the way, and we nominate government for the job.
Workers rally for a minimum wage increase. (Photo by the Associated Press)
Last November, voters across the country overwhelmingly approved ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage. Now, however, legislatures in several states are trying to gut these new wage laws and deny long overdue raises to low-income families. Industries that employ low-wage workers are fighting against annual cost-of-living increases, long overdue raises for tipped restaurant workers, and applying minimum wage laws to home care workers and seasonal farmworkers. Whether these efforts succeed will test our national commitment to American workers and their right to fair wages.