[Excerpt] Like its predecessors, this edition of The State of Working America digs deeply into a broad range of data to answer a basic question that headline numbers on gross domestic product, inflation, stock indices, productivity, and other metrics can't wholly answer: "How well has the American economy worked to provide acceptable growth in living standards for most households?"
According to the data, the short answer is, "not well at all." The past 10 years have been a "lost decade" of wage and income growth for most American families. A quarter century of wage stagnation and slow income growth preceded this lost decade, largely because rising wage, income, and wealth inequality funneled the rewards of economic growth to the top. The sweep of the research in this book shows that these trends are the result of inadequate, wrong, or absent policy responses. Ample economic growth in the past three-and-a-half decades provided the potential to substantially raise living standards across the board, but economic policies frequently served the interests of those with the most wealth, income, and political power and prevented broad-based prosperity.