February 2008, Shawn Fremstad, Rebecca Ray, Liz Chimienti, and 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.

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