WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), today held a hearing examining income inequality in America with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Klobuchar released a new report on income inequality showing the top ten percent of workers are now earning half of total income. With income inequality reaching record high levels, Klobuchar called on her colleagues in Congress to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage.
“Income inequality is a direct threat to the American promise that with hard work and determination everyone has the same fair shot at building a better life for their families,” said Senator Klobuchar. “We need to address this problem now by raising the minimum wage, investing in workforce training, and making college education affordable so everyone has the opportunity to climb the economic ladder.”
“Widening inequality challenges the nation's core ideal of equal opportunity, because it hampers upward mobility,” said Secretary Reich. “We cannot have a growing economy without a growing and buoyant middle class, and we cannot have a growing middle class if almost all economic gains go to the top 1 percent.”
According to Klobuchar’s report, since 1980 the average income for the top one percent has grown more than seven times faster than it has for the average household. Klobuchar, a cosponsor of legislation to increase the federal minimum wage, pointed to findings in her report that show raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty.
Klobuchar also highlighted a suite of other policies that could address income inequality, including efforts to increase college affordability, ensure fairer tax treatment through the Buffett Rule, strengthen workforce training programs and boost education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Klobuchar recently introduced the bipartisan Innovate America Act, which would double the number of STEM schools in America and reward learning institutions that promote STEM in their curriculums.