With Income Gap at 80-Year High, Solutions Remain Elusive « The Washington Independent
But economists say the real key to regaining lost ground, especially for the middle class, is cultivating large numbers of jobs in new and growing industries like green technology and health care, and providing unfettered access to higher education so middle- and lower-income Americans can train for these careers.
“I think it’s widely agreed that education plays a huge role here and more so than in the past,” said Ron Haskins, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “The problem is a lot of people don’t have skills, and that’s because our high school dropout rates are high and people don’t go to college.”
The flip side of that coin is having jobs available for young people after they’ve invested in their education. “There’s potentially a lot of growth in health care and skilled manufacturing, but we need to do a much better job of providing access to training,” said Harvard’s Katz. “The traditional jobs that have provided wages to the middle class are clearly not doing well in today’s economy and are unlikely to come back. We need to think about a different middle class.”
“What we need is a policy conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank. “You need the energy of invention just as we saw in the late 90s. We need another spurt of innovation-fueled growth.”
“Inequality is one of the great structural challenges facing America,” Marshall continued. “It raises questions about whether the American dream still works. … That’s why it demands attention from policymakers as something we’ve got to squarely face.”