[A]verage wages have fallen for more than three decades. Among the results of that invidious pattern was rising indebtedness, as banks extended usurious credit to working families struggling to maintain their living standards. Years of rising inequality has upset the equilibrium that resulted in rapid and sustained economic growth for most of the postwar period in this country, and created a prosperous, well-educated and optimistic middle-class society.
Back when America worked well, the gaps between the top and bottom of the income scale were far smaller, the public sector was more robust, the labor movement protected living standards and the rewards of work were more fairly distributed. There is only one way to stop the downward slide and begin to restore that proven pattern of economic dynamism with a wage-led recovery.