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On Labor Day 2012, U.S. workers are in dire straits, and an increasing share of elite opinion says it’s their own damned fault.

Not quite so bluntly, of course. But it’s impossible to read the business press and the editorial pages without encountering the argument that the economy hasn’t perked up because of the “skills gap.” U.S. workers, this thinking goes, just don’t have the skills required by our advanced economy. If only our workers and schools were better, if only teachers unions ceased to exist, all would be well.

There are indeed some skills-gap problems plaguing the economy, but the downward mobility of U.S. workers results far more from their lack of power than their lack of skills.

Since the recession bottomed out in June 2009, median household income has fallen by $2,544, to $50,964 — a 5 percent drop — according to a new report by Sentier Research…

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