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Movin’ On Up: Reforming America’s Social Contract to Provide a Bridge to the Middle Class


  • Shawn Fremstad
  • Rebecca Ray
  • Liz Chimienti
  • John Schmitt


This research brief summarizes recent findings by the Center for Economic and Policy Research on job quality and workers' economic security. Using a rigorous methodology that improves on other more standard measures of economic security, we find that one in five Americans in working families have income below a minimum middle-class budget standard for the area in which they live. The authors argue this is the result of a frayed social contract that must be updated so that more workers can move into the middle class. The report concludes with proposals that would strengthen labor market institutions, expand work supports for families in the middle and working classes, and provide workers, particularly those in low- and moderate-wage jobs, with more opportunities to improve their skills and education throughout their lifetimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Shawn Fremstad & Rebecca Ray & Liz Chimienti & John Schmitt, 2008. "Movin’ On Up: Reforming America’s Social Contract to Provide a Bridge to the Middle Class," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2008-05, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
  • Handle: RePEc:epo:papers:2008-05

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    1. Lewis Tracy R. & Reichman Jerome H. & So Anthony D., 2007. "The Case for Public Funding and Public Oversight of Clinical Trials," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-4, January.
    2. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
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    economic security; workers;

    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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