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If you need to work to live in America, you're pretty much screwed—middle class, working class, poor. Productivity is rising dramatically, while pay isn't:

Graph showing hourly productivity rising by 80.4% between 1973 and 2009 while median compensation increases just 10.7%
In fact, median family income has been stagnant for a decade:
Real Median Income
Income inequality has risen to ridiculous levels:
Income inequality is at an 80 year high.
Measure after measure after measure shows us how bad it is. The old saying is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but you don't have to be poor to feel the squeeze any more. It's hitting the vast majority of Americans. So what does all this have to do with Labor Day? With unions? Well:
Graph showing the union membership rate and middle class share of the national income declining together.
The way union membership rates and the share of income that goes to the middle class have declined together isn't a coincidence. According to one study, "the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality," affecting not just union members or people who've lost union jobs, but all workers. And that's not all, as you can see below the fold.

Unions don't just raise wages and help control inequality between those at the top and everyone else, they help reduce racial and gender inequality:

Bar graph showing the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, comparing union and non-union workers. Across demographic groups, union workers earn more.
For instance, in 2010, non-union women working full-time made a median weekly income of 78 percent of white men, while among union members, women made nearly 87 percent of what men did.

As the study showing that declining union membership is significantly responsible for growing inequality put it, "Workers became less connected to each other in their organizational lives and less connected in their economic fortunes." And, disconnected, working Americans have grown weaker, have lost out on what should have been their share of the nation's prosperity. So, yes, unions matter.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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