A think tank founded by San Francisco billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer to find solutions for income inequality in California released a sweeping report Thursday outlining the root causes behind the state’s widening wage gap and how Californians should go about closing it.
The report, produced by the Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality in California, represents largely a collection of long-standing liberal policy positions and talking points. Steyer has previously insisted that creating and chairing the commission was not tied to his exploration of a possible 2018 gubernatorial run. But political strategists said it was difficult to divorce the group’s mission statement — and Steyer’s populist projects on issues like high gasoline prices and climate change — from the looming election.
But top economists now are pointing to another explanation. Women seem to be leaving the workforce for some of the same reasons men are: Middle-class jobs are in short supply and working at the bottom pays less than it used to. Single women without children drove most of the downturn in women’s workforce participation from 1999 through 2007, according to a study by Professor Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University. Those women don’t have to care for a child and they aren’t counting on a partner to provide for them. They are, Moffitt said, “the same as a lot of men … even though it sounds a little strange to make that analogy.” They’re also staring down the same long odds as men who lost their footing in an economy in which low-skill jobs that pay well have all been shipped abroad or obliterated by technology.
The Fair Shake Commission report is an effort to help build a consensus about how we can come together to meet our common challenges. By coming together to generate ideas to help our working people thrive, we can show the nation and the world that American ideals are still alive and well, and are not bound by race, color, or creed.
This report offers ideas to level the playing field and to create opportunity for all Californians. It is borne from the understanding that a more inclusive, diverse California is key to a stronger future and that more inclusive prosperity leads to more, not less, economic growth.
The share of foreign-born workers in the U.S. climbed to a record last year, as workers continue to flock to an attractive U.S. labor market and younger immigrants join the labor force.
In 2016, there were 27 million foreign-born people in the U.S. labor force, accounting for 16.9% of the total. The share was 10.8% in 1996, according to Labor Department data tracking back two decades.
Earlier this month four economists released a study of income trends based on an under-used data source, Social Security wage records. These earnings reports are submitted by employers for the purpose of calculating workers’ tax payments and, eventually, Social Security benefits. The income amounts are quite accurate and cover a full career of wage income. The new study confirms that average male earners have seen scant wage gains over the past generation. The study also turned up a surprise. When we combine the earnings trends for men and women, the rise in inequality appears much slower than when we examine trends among each sex separately.