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« Baghdad Burning II: Girl Blog From Iraq, by Riverbend | Main | Rudy, John, Mitt, Fred, what country are you boys living in? »


The State of Working America, 2006 / 2007, by Mishel, Bernstein and Allegretto

By an everyday book reader
October 1, 2007

Prepared biennially since 1988, this respected publication sums up the problems and challenges facing American working families, presenting a wide variety of data on family incomes, taxes, wages, unemployment, wealth, and poverty -- data that enables the book's authors to closely examine the impact of the economy on the living standards of the American people.

The State of Working America 2006/2007 is an exhaustive reference work that will be welcomed by anyone eager for a comprehensive portrait of the economic well-being of the nation.

The State of Working America remains unrivaled as the most-trusted source for a comprehensive understanding of how working Americans and their families are faring in today's economy. - Robert B. Reich

The State of Working America, 2006 / 2007
by Lawrence Mishel (Editor), Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia AllegrettoBook Picture

Softcover: 496 pages
ISBN: 9780801473555, 0801473551
Cornell University Press
December 2006

If the nation is indeed wealthier in 2006 than at the peak of the last business cycle in 2000, but many families' incomes are lower and the share in poverty has grown, where is all the money going? This answer is fairly obvious as well: wages, income, and wealth are being drawn to the very top earners and families. This redistribution is a continuation of a historic trend that began in the late 1970s, paused for a few years when the financial bubble burst in 2000, and has most recently returned.

In other words, the economist's mantra that faster productivity growth leads to higher living standards needs updating. Such growth creates the potential for widely shared prosperity. For that potential to be realized, a number of other factors--labor market institutions such as strong collective bargaining and a minimum wage with some bite, and, importantly, a truly tight labor market--have to be in place to ensure that the benefits of growth reach everyone, not just those at the top of the wealth scale.

A second key ingredient of the new economy, globalization, also has the potential to lift living standards by lowering prices and providing much greater supplies of the products and inputs that help keep the economy humming. But its fingerprints are all over the diminished bargaining clout of blue-and white-collar workers who now compete directly with workers from abroad, many of whom are highly skilled but from low-wage countries.

As these disparate economic forces have interacted, we have seen some of the best and worst of what the new economy has to offer.

The chapters in this detailed and factual book elaborate this story in greater detail by examining trends in incomes, mobility, wages, jobs, wealth, and poverty, and by placing recent developments in their historical, regional, and international context.

It is the inequality of wealth, argue the authors, rather than new technology (as some would have it), that is responsible for the failure of America's workplace to keep pace with the country's economic growth. The State of Working America is a well-written, soundly argued, and important reference book. - Library Journal

If you want to know what happened to the economic well-being of the average American in the past decade or so, this is the book for you. It should be required reading for Americans of all political persuasions. - Richard Freeman, Harvard University

A truly comprehensive and useful book that provides a reality check on loose statements about U. S. labor markets. It should be cheered by all Americans who earn their living from work. - William Wolman, chief economist, CNBC's Business Week

The State of Working America provides very valuable factual and analytic material on the economic conditions of American workers. It is the very best source of information on this important subject. - Ray Marshall, University of Texas, former Secretary of Labor

An indispensable work... on family income, wages, taxes, employment, and the distribution of wealth. - Simon Head, The New York Review of Books

No matter what political camp you're in, this is the single most valuable book I know of about the state of America, period. It is the most referenced, most influential resource book of its kind. - Jeff Madrick, author, The End of Affluence

This book is the single best yardstick for measuring whether or not our economic policies are doing enough to ensure that our economy can, once again, grow for everybody. - Richard A. Gephardt

The best place to review the latest developments in changes in the distribution of income and wealth. - Lester Thurow

Lawrence Mishel is the president of the Economic Policy Institute and was the research director from 1987 to 1999. He is the coauthor of the previous versions of The State of Working America and of The Myth of the Coming Labor Shortage and coeditor of Unions and Economic Competitiveness.

Jared Bernstein is the director of the Living Standards Program and senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. He is the coauthor of six previous editions of The State of Working America.

Sylvia Allegretto joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2003 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

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