Race in America: Miles Rapoport Joins W.K. Kellogg Foundation Panel

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To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation brought together civil rights advocates to talk about the state of the civil rights movements. Demos President Miles Rapoport was among the discussants.

Fundamental structural changes are necessary --from investment in education, to improving wages, to progressive changes in the tax structure-- to ensure people get an equal say in their democracy and an equal chance in their economy.

As an example of the potential impact of one such change, improving the pay for retail workers, Miles looked to a recent Demos report, Retail's Hidden Potential:

The Effect on Workers and Their Families

  • A wage standard equivalent to $25,000 for a full-time, year-round employee would lift 734,075 people currently in poverty – including retail workers and the families they support – above the federal poverty line.

  • An additional 769,191 people hovering just above poverty would see their incomes rise to above 150 percent of the poverty line.

The Effect on Job Creation 

  • As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.

The Effect on Companies

  • The cost of the wage increase amounts to $20.8 billion, or just 1 percent of the $2.17 trillion in total annual sales by large retailers.

Read the full report: Retails Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy

Watch the entirety of the Panel discussion on C-SPAN.