Charts of the week: The “forgotten Americans”

The shadows of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump  are seen on an American Flag at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., September 20, 2018.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RC199AD75290

In a new essay, Senior Fellow Isabel Sawhill writes of her meetings with Americans in three cities to discuss potential solutions to the political, economic, and cultural divisions splitting the country. She spoke with people who have been called the “forgotten Americans,” those left behind by the economy, many of whom voted for Donald Trump. In the essay, “What the forgotten Americans really want−and how to give it to them,” Sawhill laid out seven policy ideas to address the key economic issues facing many Americans. The charts below all come from the essay.

Is government out of touch with ordinary people?

Many of the participants in Sawhill’s focus groups “want better programs and policies, but are wary of the government’s ability to deliver” and “are deeply cynical about their elected representatives.”

People welcome more career and technical education

Some kind of national service was a favorite policy idea that Sawhill proposed to focus group participants, but another popular one was career and technical education linked to jobs in local communities. “The people I talked with,” Sawhill wrote, “believed strongly that many don’t have the education and technical training needed for today’s job market.”

Wages declining for those with only high-school degree

“People’s top concern was their wages,” observed Sawhill. Wages are low, and are not increasing, a fact felt by many of the study participants. One of Sawhill’s seven policy proposals was a worker tax credit to boost wages for those making under $40,000 a year.

Read the full essay, by Isabel Sawhill, “What the forgotten Americans really want−and how to give it to them.”

cover image for sawhill piece