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As Global 1% Seize Economy's Gains, 'Unprecedented Wage Stagnation' for Everyone Else

"With workers worldwide being left behind, says Oxfam, latest OECD reports shows "we need to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the few at the top."

Protesters hold signs as they march to Los Angeles City Hall during the 'Occupy Los Angeles' demonstration in solidarity with the 'Occupy Wall Street' protest in New York City on October 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The world's largest economies have grown at a steady pace and unemployment has consistently fallen in the years following the greed-driven global financial crisis of 2008, but income gains during the so-called recovery have been enjoyed almost exclusively by the top one percent while most workers experience "unprecedented wage stagnation."

"Workers' share of national income [in the U.S.] dropped about eight percentage points between 1995 and 2013, faster than anywhere but Poland and South Korea over that time."
—Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post

That's according to the OECD's 2018 Employment Outlook (pdf) published Wednesday, which examines recent economic trends and finds that wage growth for most citizens in the 35 industrialized nations studied is "missing in action" due to a number of factors, including the the rapid rise of temporary low-wage jobs and the relentless corporate assault on unions.

The decline of union bargaining power has been particularly striking in the United States, where just "12 percent of U.S. workers were covered by collective bargaining in 2016—among all the nations the OECD tracks, only Turkey, Lithuania and South Korea have been lower at any point this millennium," notes the Washington Post's Andrew Van Dam. "Workers' share of national income [in the U.S.] dropped about eight percentage points between 1995 and 2013, faster than anywhere but Poland and South Korea over that time."

In a statement on Tuesday, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría said "[t]his trend of wageless growth in the face of a rise in employment highlights the structural changes in our economies that the global crisis has deepened, and it underlines the urgent need for countries to help workers."


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"Well-targeted policy measures and closer collaboration with social partners are needed to help workers adapt to and benefit from a rapidly evolving world of work, in order to achieve inclusive growth," Gurría added.

In sharp contrast to the flat wages of average workers, those in the top one percent are seeing their incomes climb, continuing a decades-long trend.

The following graphic, published by the Guardian using OECD data, captures the long-term trend that continues in the present:

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