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Idea of the Day: Strong Unions Help Strengthen the Middle Class at the State Level

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New Census Bureau data on state incomes released yesterday show just how important unions are to creating a strong middle class. An update to an analysis in our April 2011 report, “How Unions Make the Middle Class,” finds that a 10-percentage-point increase in the unionization rate would boost the average annual income for middle-class households—unionized or not—by $1,501 a year. Ensuring the United States has a strong middle class is critical, as the middle class is the engine of economic growth.

Unions strengthen the middle class by advocating for workers both in the workplace and in our democracy. Organized labor not only fights for higher wages and better benefits at work but it also makes democracy work for the middle class and advocates for policies that boost the middle class as a whole. As the new Census data make clear, stronger unions create a strong middle class not only at the national level but at the state level, as well.

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Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
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Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
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Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
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Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
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Radio: Chelsea Kiene
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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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