Transcript: EPI President Lawrence Mishel’s remarks on raising the federal minimum wage – Jan. 14, 2014

Partial transcript of remarks by Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute, on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour at the Economic Policy Institute on Jan. 14, 2014:

…As everyone knows, there’s a lot of discussions right now about income inequality. But sometimes people think this is about some metrics, about some Gini coefficient, some measure that we’re trying to affect. That’s not true at all.

The discussion of income inequality is about whether people are going to move ahead, whether the vast majority are going to share in economic growth.

It’s about rebuilding the middle-class and giving more people access to the middle-class.

And what does that really mean? Sometimes that discussion is up here and far above what we at EPI [Economic Policy Institute] think is the core issue, which is to get broad-base wage growth.

If you had broad-base wage growth, you would have better jobs, you would have a stronger middle-class, you could have a bigger middle-class, and more people able to get into the middle-class.

And why is that the case? What is a middle-class family?

Middle-class family is essentially a family that mostly relies on labor income for its income. They don’t have a lot of capital gains and dividends and interest incomes. They don’t get a lot of support from the government in terms of transfer income. They rely on the labor market – it’s their jobs and their wages.

So getting broad-base wage growth is essentially what getting income inequality down means, what achieving shared prosperity means.

Which leads us to the minimum wage, which is a simple, strong, effective policy for spurring wage growth and for lifting up many people at the bottom, and for helping families basically in the bottom 60% of the income scale…


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