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Let’s work to restore vibrant middle class

Two articles that recently appeared in The News, dealing with increasing income gaps as well as gaps in jobless rates, are very disturbing. Ninety-five percent of the income gains reported since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent, an alarming statistic. At the same time, the earnings of the remaining 99 percent have increased only minimally or not at all – and this with incomes already low and even at the poverty level.

U.S. workers are now competing with low-wage labor in developing countries, and clerical and call-center jobs have been outsourced to countries like India and the Philippines. Economists refer to a “bumping down” or “crowding out” in the labor market, a domino effect that pushes out lower-income workers, pushes median income downward and contributes to income inequality. These factors do not bode well for democracy, let alone the economy or civil society in general.

More importantly, they are not morally acceptable to a country that prides itself on “liberty and justice for all.” Citizens need to find ways to work together with economists and lawmakers to restore the middle class, which was once a sign of a vibrant U.S. economy working for all people in the United States.

Eileen O’Connor

Amherst