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Minnesota’s middle class: The lost decade.

“The sum of these parts leads to a conclusion that the middle class in Minnesota has suffered a lost decade.”

“…for the first time in generations, more people are falling out of the middle class than joining its ranks.”

Those are just two of the damaging conclusions at the end of yesterday’s MinnPost article, “How is Minnesota’s ‘middle class’ doing?,” which examined wage equality, the Great Recession and Minnesota’s middle class.

That’s why today we applaud the DFL-led House of Representatives for holding a hearing on developing the world’s best workforce.

Over the last 15 years wage inequality in Minnesota has increased and the middle class has been left with the short end of the stick. According to MinnPost, “workers in the exact middle of the pay range gained about $4,300 over their 1995 annual incomes — some 13 percent. Meanwhile, the top earners gained $49,924 to claim 24 percent more than they had earned in 1995.” The Great Recession also hit the middle class much harder than the richest Minnesotans. Between 2006 and 2011, Minnesota’s middle class saw their pay fall by $500, compared to the richest 2 percent who saw their pay rise by $10,000 during that same time period.

Minnesota must reform its unfair and outdated tax system and ask the richest Minnesotans to pay their fair share. In Minnesota, the richest 5 percent of households earn average incomes 11x as large as the bottom 20 percent of households and 4x as large as the middle 20 percent of households, according to the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This evening’s joint hearing of the House Education Finance and Education Policy Committees will be an opportunity to hear more about the challenges facing Minnesota’s workforce and the best path forward to strengthening the sate’s middle class.

Legislators will hear from presenters from across the business and academic spectrum – including Minnesota State Economist Dr. Tom Stinson, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board Member Sanjay Kuba, Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Steve Hunter, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, and many more. The hearing begins at 6PM.


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