Why American workers are in dire need of a wage rise | Josh Bivens

The economic fundamentals will remain perilous if low- and middle-income workers continue to endure poor pay

The US economy ended 2015 with improvement in the labour market. Jobs grew by 284,000 each month on average in the last quarter and if you squint pretty hard at the data you can see a mild acceleration in the pace of nominal wage growth.

There will be plenty who will claim this justifies the Federal Reserve’s decisions to raise short-term interest rates for the first time since 2007, and who will argue further that the economic concerns raised by the great recession and its aftermath can now be reshelved. They would then conclude that the focus can return to policy perennials like the need to reduce deficits and ensure that wage and price inflation do not spiral out of control.

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Is 2016 the year when the world tumbles back into economic crisis?

Some see China’s share collapse as merely a symptom of middle-class prosperity. Others take a darker view – and if they are right, the global threat is real

Rarely have financial markets had a more traumatic start to the year. Shares plunged, the price of oil clattered to its lowest level in 11 years, trading on the Chinese stock market was halted twice, and the World Bank warned that a “perfect storm” might be brewing.

George Osborne chose his moment well to go public with his concern that the UK faces a “cocktail of threats”. In addition to the $2tn wiped off global stock markets, the North Koreans claimed they had exploded a hydrogen bomb and relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran worsened markedly.

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