Middle-class American wages have stagnated for 16 years, due to a combination of globalization (especially outsourcing manufacturing to China) and technological displacement.
The future doesn’t look any better. China’s manufacturing workforce is now shrinking as those jobs move to lower-wage countries. But in the last decade China has produced close to 60 million college graduates; within 15 years it will be 200 million. That’s more than the entire U.S. workforce -- most of whom will be in competition with American white-collar and professional workers.
American college graduates are already experiencing declining wages and fewer good jobs. Together with the angry blue-collar workers that have stoked Trump’s candidacy, they’ll constitute an even larger political force for fundamental change – not closed borders and higher tariffs, hopefully, but higher taxes on great wealth that can finance more and better public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D, as well as a major wage subsidy for the bottom 80 percent.