Third Coast Pillory: Trump, Wages, and the Working Class

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

 

Trump’s promise of a “great” America is premised to some degree on rising wages. With the majority of the country working class, wages are how people pay the bills and keep the lights on. Since the 1980s, the average weekly salary has only increased by approximately 25 dollars, while since 1982 to 1984 we have seen the cost of living more than double (see Table 24). It just seems logical that wages have to increase for Americans to do any better. Yet, it is rather dubious whether Trump has any policies that would actually lead to increased wages for the working class.

Average Weekly Salary in the United States, 1979 to Present

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Trump has tapped Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, who is a staunch opponent of raising the minimum wage. In itself this a foreboding sign, seeing as raising the minimum wage would be a sure way to bring wages back in line with worker productivity. As economists at the Economic Policy Institute point out, “although Americans are working more productively than ever, the fruits of their labors have primarily accrued to those at the top and to corporate profits, especially in recent years.”

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Listen, if the cost of living goes up by four percent and you only get a raise of two percent, you’ve lost two percent year-upon-year. That means you are sliding backwards. You can’t pay Twenty-First Century expenses on a Twentieth Century salary, period. Stagnating salaries and increased cost of living has…

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