RELEASE: Working-Class Americans Want Progressive Economic Policies, New CAP Action Analysis of Nationally Representative Surveys Shows

Washington, D.C. — Workers of all races and ethnicities—especially those without four-year college degrees—face real economic challenges, but they also support progressive economic policies that would make the U.S. economy work better for the working class, according to a new analysis of nationally representative surveys from the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The analysis released today builds on previous research from the American Worker Project that took a closer look at the composition of America’s working class and found that it is more racially diverse, more female, and more service-sector oriented than conventional wisdom or traditional media portrayals dictates.

“The sense that the economy is tilted towards the rich is pervasive: Nearly 80 percent of the working class thinks the economy unfairly favors the wealthy. Regardless of race or ethnicity, working-class white, black, and Hispanic workers want elected officials to make the economy work for better for them,” said Alex Rowell, policy analyst with the American Worker Project and co-author of the analysis. “Policies such as raising the minimum wage; ensuring all Americans have health care and a secure retirement; stronger regulation for Wall Street; and making the richest Americans pay their fair share have broad-based support and would help those who need it most.”

“Given the wide appeal of progressive economic positions, it’s clear that advocacy for these policies can serve to unite workers across class and race and could form the foundation of a successful election platform,” said David Madland, senior adviser to the American Worker Project and co-author of the analysis.

The American Worker Project examined four nationally representative surveys from 2016 and 2017—the General Social Survey, the American National Elections Study, the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, and the American Values Survey—and found that workers broadly support policies to raise wages and improve working conditions. These policies include increasing the minimum wage; broadening access to paid leave; passing equal pay legislation; expanding access to health care and retirement benefits; making college more affordable; regulating banks; and instituting higher taxes on the wealthy.

The authors also found that there are some political issues—most notably views on racial discrimination and immigration—where workers’ views diverge along race and class lines. Unfortunately, some politicians have attempted to stoke racial resentment and xenophobia by exploiting these issues. On the whole, however, the surveys reveal that supporting a bold economic reform agenda does not involve trading off the support of one group of workers for another.

Click here to read “The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies” by Alex Rowell and David Madland.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at  or 202.478.6331.