Priority One for 2013: Rebuilding The Middle Class

New Census data reported just this week painted a distressing picture: 46.2 million Americans still in poverty in 2011, median household income declining by 1.5 percent, and rising income inequality. As a snapshot of an America three years removed from the end of the Great Recession, the numbers serve as an important reminder that it's not just the tepid growth in jobs, but the increasing lack of good jobs and the slow corrosion of the middle class that should be the chief concern of lawmakers.

But a year after President Obama announced and hundreds of state lawmakers stood up to support the American Jobs Act, and at the height of an election year where jobs and the economy are ever-present buzzwords but Congress is incapable of acting, it's up to progressives to articulate a strong vision of an economy bolstered by common sense policies that would ensure that the engine of our economy — a strong middle class — is recharged and revitalized.

A new report just released by more than 20 organizations including Progressive States Network begins to lay out a roadmap that does just that. The report, "10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class for Hard Working Americans: Making Work Pay in the 21st Century," highlights ten specific steps that the nation can take to combat austerity politics and rebuild this vital economic engine in 2013 and beyond.

Among the policy recommendations in the report are many which are already seeing momentum in states across the nation, even as attacks on the middle class continued in statehouses in 2012. These include raising the minimum wage, stopping wage theft, ensuring workers have access to paid sick days, implementing health reform, banning employer discrimination against the unemployed, and more. As Progressive States Network noted in our 2012 Workers' Rights Session Roundup, bills to raise the minimum wage were introduced in 17 states this year, paid sick days bills were introduced in 9 states, and advances were even made on wage theft protections in unlikely places like Louisiana — momentum that hopefully bodes well for 2013 both in the states and nationally. (Read the full session roundup for more.)

Here's all ten ways to rebuild the middle class  read the the full report here:

10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class