As long as wages remain stagnant compared to how much stuff costs there will never be a fully robust economic recovery.
Wage stagnation is why there is currently an all time record high of income inequality in America.
This is why you don’t need a degree in economics to understand why all debates over economic issues in America are made to seem overly complicated on purpose. Because if people were paid more for their time and effort, they could buy more things. But wouldn’t those things then be more expensive? Yes, but people would be making more money. It would be a cycle, kind of like the cycle our economy is on now but less vicious and soul crushing for the generationally poor.
You’ve heard about class warfare between the 1% of earners who possess more wealth than the other 99% of earners in the country, right? That is the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movements and protests. Why is there such a gap in income equality? Why is there class warfare? Why is there a sentiment that the “game” that is the US economy is rigged and the American Dream is dead? The underlying cause/answer is wage stagnation.
Wage stagnation is not an accident, it has been done very much on purpose for almost half a century. The haves don’t want to pay the have-nots an honest salary for their honest work and have been allowed to get away with it. The 1% could make the choice to pay their workers more. But other than it being the right thing to do, why? After all, paying the masses a living wage would mean less one-percenters could afford private yachts, jets, and islands.
Wage stagnation is tied directly to the rise in consumer debt (people use credit to pay for necessities they don’t have the money to have because they don’t get paid enough), student loan debt (parents and students need to take loans because they don’t get paid enough to pay for college tuition), and mortgage debt (not being paid enough to afford a home). Being able to afford a home is the center piece of the American Dream. To afford property, not simply to achieve financial prosperity as many would have you believe.
Until wage stagnation is addressed and done away with, very little else matters in terms of turning around America’s economy for 99% of the population. To deny this is to deny reality, or be apart of the minority of the population that is benefiting from the system as it is currently constructed. There is no gray area or in between.
A living wage is the only humane solution to this problem. But traditionally, humanity and the American economy don’t always go hand in hand. The fierce resistance to paying a living wage in America is only the most recent example.