Bad Trend Lines for Middle Class

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President Obama is pressing Congress to pass his jobs legislation quickly.  Some argue it will help, others suggest it is more of the same and just increases the nation's debt.  (I side with the President on this one.)

Yesterday, my colleagues and I created a new paid sick and safe leave requirement for employers in Seattle.  Most workers in Seattle already enjoy the minimum requirements of the legislation, about 145,000 don't.  Some argue this new mandate will harm small businesses and push jobs to surrounding cities.  Others argue it is a fundamental obligation of city government to protect those at the lowest end of the wage scale, the ones who likely don't have paid sick leave today.

These issues deserve robust debate.  There are valid points on all sides.  But, there is one unmistakable trend we should all be leery of and it's visible across the nationThe middle class, America's economic foundation, is reeling.  Take a look at Robert Reich's essay in the September 4 edition of The New York Times.  Reich is the former secretary of labor and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  Be sure to open the graphic link that reveals the troubling trend lines for middle class prosperity. 

The context Reich establishes in his essay is one we should all keep in mind.  The long-term financial strength of our country and of Seattle requires a strong and growing middle class. 

Reich's analysis is a warning.  "Reviving the middle class requires that we reverse the nation's decades-long trend toward widening inequality."  Read Reich's piece for thoughtful and wise insight.