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  • Mr. Cass and Ms. Sawhill introduce a range of worthy ideas to advance their pro-work agenda, but two stand out: strengthening vocational education and introducing a federal wage subsidy.  Tweet This
  • Getting a monthly check from Uncle Sam is not likely to renew the family or the civic foundations of working-class America. Tweet This

For too long, the American working class was ignored in politics and public policy. All that changed in 2016. The election served notice that the working class, especially working-class men, felt overlooked, alienated and angry and were desperate enough to try anything—even Donald Trump. 

Two powerful books now tell us why. Since the 1970s, men without college degrees have seen their full-time employment fall, their real wages decline, their family income stagnate and their children’s shot at the American Dream—that is, living a better life than their parents—seemingly fade before their eyes. The thematic core of Oren Cass’s The Once and Future Worker and Isabel Sawhill’s The Forgotten Americans is that working men are losing ground in America. 

The thematic core of Oren Cass’s "The Once and Future Worker" and Isabel Sawhill’s "The Forgotten Americans" is that working men are losing ground in America.

One rejoinder to this grim diagnosis is that, after you factor in means-tested government programs, declines in family size and increases in the number of working women, the fate of the working class appears less dire: Indeed, its consumption levels have increased in recent years. To which Mr. Cass replies: Yes, “many people have iPhones,” but “neither readjusted data nor celebration of gadgetry does anything to improve the reality of deteriorating individual, family, and community health”—a reality that follows from the loss of decent, stable jobs, as both Mr. Cass and Ms. Sawhill note.

It’s no accident, for instance, that communities hit hardest by direct competition from China starting in the 1990s saw dramatic declines in male employment, marriage and children born in wedlock. Nor is it surprising that dramatic increases in “deaths of despair”—deaths largely attributable to suicide or the opioid crisis—have been concentrated in the very class of Americans hit hardest by recent trends in trade and automation.

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal . . . .