The issues pile up: affordable housing shortage, college loan defaults, expanded social assistance program budgets, underfunded retirements.

We treat them all like separate problems, but they all come from the same source: income inequality and stagnant wages for the middle class.

Jobs that used to provide a stable middle-class life barely pay enough to support a single person and less than enough to keep a family out of poverty. Middle-income families go deep into debt, preventing them from saving and putting pressure on social services. Credible research finds that problems like crime, teenage pregnancy and violence are higher in the states with the highest inequality and lower in states, like Maine, where there is less of a gap between rich and poor.

There is no single solution for this constellation of problems, but one is beyond dispute: People at the bottom and in the middle of the income scale need to make more money. That’s why we support President Obama’s proposed change to the overtime pay rules, which could give up to 20,000 Mainers a chance to earn more money.

Under current rules, workers who make less than $455 a week or $23,660 are due time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Anyone who earns more is considered “white-collar” and not eligible for overtime.

That might have been a meaningful distinction at one time, but it’s not today. In 1975, 65 percent of full-time salaried workers were eligible for overtime, as opposed to only 8 percent today.

Obama has proposed more than doubling the limit so that workers who make up to $970 a week or $50,440 a year would be eligible for overtime. This is not a freebie: They would have to work the hours in order to make more money, but many families will be seeing more in their paychecks if these rules go into effect next year.

Inflation is not the only thing that has changed since 1975. That year, more than one-third of the workforce was employed in manufacturing and 60 percent worked in the service economy.

Today, only a fifth of the workforce is in manufacturing, while nearly 80 percent are in the service sector. Many of those jobs are in food service or retail and are managerial in name only. Employers have been able to push those workers to work long hours without having to pay them. This rule would change that.

This is not going to solve the problem of income inequality. Congress should hike the minimum wage so that it’s possible to work your way out of poverty. And middle-income families need help paying for college and saving for retirement so they can avoid excessive debt.

But updating the overtime rule is a good step in the right direction. Congress should follow up with a meaningful increase in the minimum wage.

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