The report includes Obama's prescriptions for meeting the challenge. They include more government spending on education and infrastructure to raise productivity further, higher taxes on the wealthy to curb inequality and new immigration policies to safeguard the supply of workers as more baby boomers retire.
The president casts trade expansion—a rare source of agreement with Republicans and discord with Democrat-friendly labor unions—as a boon to average workers because of the inclusion of labor standards that prevent an international race to the bottom.
At a briefing for reporters, the White House advisers acknowledged that some long-term trends remain only dimly understood. One is the gradual long-term decline of labor-force participation by men. In part, they said, it may reflect positive trends such as health improvements that allow more men to reach their retirement years. But it's also in part a measure of technological changes that have left some low-skilled male workers behind.
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Agreement on the causes won't produce agreement on solutions in any event. Except for trade, congressional Republicans reject virtually all of Obama's economic agenda. Their own, and that of GOP candidates for the White House in 2016, includes tax cuts and reduced regulations.
The Democrats' leading White House prospect, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is developing her own economic platform and will have incentives to separate herself from an incumbent in his seventh year. But Obama aims to shape that debate even as its focus inexorably shifts from his presidency toward his successor.