The U.S. labor market is shackled by decades of wage stagnation for the majority of workers, persistent wage disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender, and sluggish economic growth. These labor market ills particularly affect women and workers of color due to decades of gender inequality and structural racism erecting barriers to opportunities. There is increasing evidence that broad structural inequality leads to a misallocation of talent and the undervaluation of different types of work, which contributes to anemic economic growth and slower productivity gains.
Creating an economy that works for everyone and serves those who are historically marginalized requires addressing underlying economic structures that form the foundation for U.S. labor market policies. Equitable Growth’s new book, Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy—a joint effort with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley—presents a series of essays from leading economic thinkers, who explore alternative policies for boosting wages and living standards, rooted in different structures that contribute to stagnant and unequal wages. These essays demonstrate that efforts to improve workers’ access to good jobs do not need to be limited to traditional labor policy. Policies relating to macroeconomics, to social services, and to market concentration also have direct relevance to wage levels and inequality, and can be useful tools for addressing them.