Since the 1970s a gulf has opened between the pay of low-paid workers and the pay of the middle class. No longer able to earn a decent wage in respectable work, many have left the labor force, and the job attachment of those remaining has weakened. For Edmund Phelps, this is a failure of political economy whose widespread effects are undermining the free-enterprise system. His solution is a graduated schedule of tax subsidies to enterprises for every low-wage worker they employ. As firms hire more of these workers, the labor market would tighten, driving up their pay levels as well as their employment.
Edmund Phelps won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics for deepening our understanding of the relationship between short-run and long-run effects of economic policy. He is Director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University and author of many books, including Inflation Policy and Unemployment Theory,Structural Slumps, and Mass Flourishing.