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What the Job Numbers Don’t Tell You

Photo Credit: Hyejin Kang / Getty
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By Jacob Baum Explore the Issues Economic Security
Photo Credit: Nuvolanvicata / Getty
Photo Credit: Nuvolanvicata / Getty

The country’s unemployment rate hovers just below 4 percent. There are more job openings available than there are people seeking jobs. Yet nearly 80 percent of U.S. workers still live paycheck to paycheck. And most Americans still say that they don’t think they’ll ever be able to pay off their debt.

The reality is that the much-touted economic growth that’s occurring isn’t being shared by everyone. While economic growth has risen steadily since 2010, real wage growth has remained stagnant. Working people are still struggling in an economy rigged against them by the wealthy and powerful.

Unions have long been the best vehicle to ensure that working families have a fair shot at success, because unions are how working people build power together. Without strong unions, corporations, CEOs and a handful of super wealthy individuals would have unchecked power over our economy and our political system. 

That’s why unions have been under attack for decades by billionaires, corporations and special interest groups. These powerful forces want to curb the power that working people achieve by joining together in unions and fighting for better wages and benefits for their families. These attacks have contributed, in large part, to increased economic inequality. Here’s some data on the union difference

Compounding the gap between working families and the wealthy came a 2017 tax bill passed by right-wing members of Congress and written by lobbyists for the same corporations and special interests who attack unions. It cut vital programs working people depend on and took away health care for millions of people, all to give a $1.5 trillion tax cut to the super wealthy, CEOs and billionaires. These tax cuts have failed to reach the pockets of most American workers. 

So, when people tout the latest economic growth statistics, ask yourself: Whom is the “booming economy” working for? 

The best way to ensure that working families share in the growth they create is for more Americans to join unions. Strong unions are needed now more than ever because unions are the best vehicle for working people to get ahead and stay ahead in an economy that is rigged against them.