Center for American Progress

Without Strong Unions, Middle-Class Families Bring Home a Smaller Share
Article

Without Strong Unions, Middle-Class Families Bring Home a Smaller Share

Authors Alex Rowell and David Madland describe new census data that indicate how the middle class would benefit from stronger unions.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2016, the median U.S. household earned $59,039, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year. Seven years after the end of the Great Recession, the median household’s income has approximately recovered to its pre-recession level, when adjusted for inflation, but has effectively remained stagnant since the late 1990s.

Middle-class households are not seeing the high levels of income growth that are being enjoyed by America’s highest-income earners. Furthermore, the share of income that is earned by the middle 60 percent of households, by income, has fallen to record lows. A revitalized union movement could help reverse the decades-long trend of growing inequality and a shrinking middle class. But anti-union attacks at the state and national levels threaten to further tilt our nation’s economy against workers.

The above excerpt was originally published in CAP Action. Click here to view the full article.

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Authors

Alex Rowell

Policy Analyst

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project