The State of Working America

The State of Working America

by Lawrence Mishel, Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, Heidi Shierholz
     
 

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From reviews of previous editions—

"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

"It is the inequality of wealth, argue the authors, rather than new technology

Overview

From reviews of previous editions—

"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

"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

"An indispensable work on family income, wages, taxes, employment, and the distribution of wealth.”—New York Review of Books

Since 1988, The State of Working America has provided a comprehensive answer to a question newly in vogue in this age of Occupy Wall Street: To what extent has overall economic growth translated into rising living standards for the vast majority of American workers and their families? In the 12th edition, Lawrence Mishel, Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, and Heidi Shierholz analyze a trove of data on income, jobs, mobility, poverty, wages, and wealth to demonstrate that rising economic inequality over the past three decades has decoupled overall economic growth from growth in the living standards of the vast majority.

The new edition of The State of Working America also expands on this analysis of American living standards, most notably by placing the Great Recession in historical context. The severe economic downturn that began in December 2007 came on the heels of a historically weak recovery following the 2001 recession, a recovery that saw many measures of living standards stagnate. The authors view the past decade as “lost” in terms of living standards growth, and warn that millions of American households face another decade of lost opportunity.

Especially troubling, the authors stress, is that while overall economic performance in the decades before the Great Recession was more than sufficient to broadly raise living standards, broad-based growth was blocked by rising inequality driven largely by policy choices. A determinedly data-driven narrative, The State of Working America remains the most comprehensive resource about the economic experience of working Americans.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This timely, useful publication organizes and elucidates enormous amounts of data important to assessing how well 'the American economy worked to provide acceptable growth to living standards for most households. . . .' Like earlier editions, this valuable compendium of evidence from academic journals and a notable array of government data series offers a predictably sobering assessment of living standards for most households, but the narrative is accompanied by adroit presentations that meticulously document source data. . . . Highly recommended."—J. Gray, Choice (July 2013)

". . . one of the great values of this resource is that the numbers show clearly not only the ways in which neoliberal politicians have failed to raise the standard of living for most people, but also how neoclassical economics itself is deeply flawed. . . . The State of Working America is particularly valuable because the authors give you access to the data they use: you can download most of that from their website, and they provide an extensive methodological section. But the authors do not just show you data: they give you their analysis, putting the trends into context."—Stephanie Luce, Against the Current (September/October 2013)

Library Journal
This analysis of the economic status of working-class Americans is prepared by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on the impact of government policies on low- and middle-income workers. An effective combination of raw data and explanatory text describes the stratification of wealth in the United States and is accompanied by a fascinating examination of the "lost" decade that began with the 2001 downturn and was exacerbated by the Great Recession, the authors arguing that macroeconomic policy has been woefully underutilized in response. Tables, figures, and graphs are clearly presented and carefully documented; data sets vary in time period with some reaching as far back as 1913 and most updated through 2010 or 2011. Dollar figures have been adjusted as necessary to account for inflation in order to maintain undistorted bases for comparison. Themed chapters cover general topics such as income, mobility, wages, jobs, wealth, and poverty, each opening with an overview and ending with an insightful, well-reasoned conclusion. Two appendixes clarify the authors' methodology in compiling and presenting data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. A bibliography and index follow. As this book is the product of an independent group, readers can be assured that its conclusions have not been skewed by political bias. In addition, the authors have gone to great lengths to adjust data as necessary to ensure statistically accurate analyses. VERDICT The definitive source for impartial information about economic disparities in the United States; highly recommended for public and academic libraries.—Jennifer Michaelson, Cleveland
Inside Business
The authors present a convincing case and go to great pains to bolster their conclusions with a wide range of figures, studies, and statistical analyses. Their argument is compelling. Its ramifications are frightening.
Publishers Weekly
The State of Working America 1998-99 may be the most up-to-date, comprehensive economic portrait of American labor available.
Harvard Business Review
Read The State of Working America to appreciate how growth is generating benefits very unequally.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801478550
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
12/18/2012
Series:
An Economic Policy Institute Book Series
Pages:
472
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Mishel is the president of the Economic Policy Institute and its research director from 1987 to 1999. He is the coauthor of every edition of The State of Working America.

Josh Bivens has been an economist at the Economic Policy Institute since 2002. He is the author of Failure by Design: The Story behind America's Broken Economy and coauthor of The State of Working America, 12th Edition, both from Cornell.

Elise Gould is Director of Health Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute.

Heidi Shierholz is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute and coauthor of The State of Working America, 2008/2009 and The State of Working America, 12th Edition, both from Cornell.

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