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Lawrence Mishel 01

What this episode is about and why you should care

This week we are discussing the past and future of jobs and paychecks with Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Mishel. Larry has been a labor market economist for 30 years and is now the President of The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington based think tank. EPI is focusing on how our current economy is affecting low and middle income Americans, what policies are needed to restore the middle class, and how to generate robust wage growth for everyone so they experience a growing standard of living.

With a PhD in economics, Larry is increasingly concerned with trends regarding wage stagnation – he believes the preeminent economic challenge of our time is to overcome wage stagnation. The wages and benefits of nearly all workers haven’t grown in 12 years! This affects all workers, even those that are highly skilled. The hourly wages and benefits of the median worker have only grown around 9% since 1979!

Larry also disagrees with many articles that claim the freelancer economy is large and rapidly growing. Numbers actually show that the population of independent contractors is declining.  Numbers also show that many freelancers are using their gigs as supplementary income because the wages from their primary job are not increasing relative to the cost of living. One of the notions of the Future of Work should be the ability to support one’s self with your regular job. It’s possible that a lot of the angst in the country comes from economic insecurity and we could help ease that problem with improved wage policies!

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • Wage Stagnation
  • Robots and automation
  • Discrepancies in numbers surrounding the freelancer economy
  • How politics and unions affect wages
  • The skills gap
  • Challenges around worker classification

Links From The Episode:

Larry Mishel On Twitter