EPI News

Big changes coming

New Web site, new features
By early October, the Economic Policy Institute will have a completely new online presence, allowing us to be more timely and engaging while simplifying navigation for visitors. We’re adding a number of features, including: Quick Takes from our experts on the latest reports and economic news; Recommended Reading culled from national and regional press, journals, think tanks, and other sources; enhanced graphics for our weekly Economic Snapshots; and a daily feature that draws attention to our research and analysis. The new Web site reflects an expansion of EPI’s External Affairs team, directed by Nancy Cleeland, a longtime Los Angeles Times journalist who joined the Institute in January. Abby Rapoport, former editor of the Grinnell College newspaper, came to EPI earlier this month from an internship at the American Prospect to help with the new site. Stay tuned for details.

SnapshotGot work?
This week’s Snapshot by Heidi Shierholz highlighted the growing gap between jobs and workers. In Dec. 2006, there were 1.6 job seekers for every job, but by July that number had jumped to 2.6. As her accompanying Issue Brief showed, the number of job openings is an important measure of employment that often gets overlooked. The number of job seekers per opening is now firmly in recessionary territory, and the August data will certainly be worse, Shierholz notes.

Supply-side nonsense
Last week, EPI and the Center for American Progress (CAP) co-hosted two panel discussions on the myth of supply-side economics. Former White House economic advisors Jeffrey Frankel, Gene Sperling, and Lawrence Summers demonstrated that cutting taxes for the wealthy not only doesn’t raise revenue or spur growth, but it also presents substantial risks to the nation’s economy. Frankel, an economics professor at Harvard, presented an EPI-commissioned paper, Tax-Cut Snake Oil, that exposed the contradictions in conservative support for the approach. He also documented that Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush oversaw high growth in federal spending following their severe tax cuts, despite promises to reduce the budget. EPI Policy and Research Director John Irons, with CAP Vice President Michael Ettlinger, also released a damning critique of the approach titled Take a Walk on the Supply Side. On a second panel, The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait and Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner examined the strong public appeal of supply-side economics despite proof that it doesn’t work.

EPI launches Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy
EPI hosted a reception on Sept. 18 that drew more than 100 guests to celebrate the launch of our latest endeavor, the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. The program has three goals: To assess and improve economic conditions for people of color; to help integrate immigrants into the U.S. economy; and to develop nonwhite policy voices. EPI board member Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women, introduced the program and emphasized the need for research that explores how distinct groups experience the economy. For example, she cited the current 10.6% unemployment rate for blacks, often lost in discussions of the overall rate, now at 6.1%. Sociologist Algernon Austin, who began to develop the program in January, marked the occasion with the release of an EPI Briefing Paper tracking how gains made by African Americans during the late 1990s have been wiped out in this decade, despite strong overall economic growth. On all major indicators–income, wages, employment, and poverty–African Americans lost ground between 2000 and 2007, Austin shows in the report, Reversal of Fortune: Economic Gains of 1990s Overturned for African Americans from 2000-07.

A book of progressive voices
An essay by EPI’s Larry Mishel and Nancy Cleeland leads off an ambitious collection of writings from progressive groups, released with the goal of influencing the next presidential agenda. The book, New Progressive Voices, features a diverse group of authors from an array of organizations, including The Roosevelt Institution, the Drum Major Institute, Green for All, the Center for Community Change, and the Campaign for America’s Future. The result is a plan that establishes sound priorities for America’s future and also sets the stage to build a new intellectual framework for policies that put people first.