Wages for the middle-class are at all-time low.
According to the Pew Research Center, the share of national income held by middle-class households has decreased to 43%—its lowest level since the center began publishing income-share data in 1967—while middle-class wages have grown just 6% and low-wage workers’ wages have decreased by 5% 1979.
In an effort to close this gap, on June 13, Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Schmidt Futures - led by former Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt - announced a new innovative competition called the $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge to raise the wages of at least 100,000 workers by $10,000 or more by 2021.
JFFLabs, the innovation arm of JFF, will lead this ideation competition to find the nation’s most effective and promising ways to meaningfully increase annual incomes. The group also launched a new program to elevate promising work-based learning startups. JFFLabs is now accepting applications for a cohort of tech-enabled startups looking to create and scale career advancement opportunities for retail and adjacent sector workers through work-based learning strategies.
“The $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge will spur innovative thought, share best practices, and accelerate awareness of stagnant wages,” said Maria Flynn, CEO of JFF. “Perhaps most exciting, it will materially change people’s economic well-being.”
The $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge will launch alongside the Alliance for the American Dream, a network of four communities (each anchored by a public research university) that will provide access to capital and market for new ideas to support distressed communities locally.
In its inaugural effort, the Alliance is challenging citizens to develop policy ideas or startup concepts that increase net income for 10,000 local, middle-class households by 10% by 2020, either by raising income or decreasing the cost of living (e.g., in transportation, housing, utilities, food).
“We encourage other investors to join us in this bold challenge to find the most successful solutions to erasing the wage gap,” said Thomas Kalil, chief innovation officer of Schmidt Futures