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EconomicPolicyInstitute August 19, 2011

EPI to celebrate 25 Years of putting working families first

When reading the painfully sobering economic news of late, it is easy to forget who is behind the data:  husbands and wives, fathers and mothers and their children, families struggling to make ends meet in trying times.  For 25 years, the Economic Policy Institute has worked vigilantly to highlight the impact economic policies have on American workers and this work has established EPI as the premiere think tank focused on their plight.  We are proud to celebrate 25 years of putting working families first with a reception and dinner November 1.

In addition to our honorees, Ray Marshall, labor secretary under President Jimmy Carter, and Paul Krugman, 2008 Nobel laureate in economics and New York Times columnist, EPI is pleased to announce the event co-chairs: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and former Labor Secretaries Alexis Herman and Robert Reich, who served under Bill Clinton.  Stay tuned for more information as the date draws closer.

Major media seek EPI analyses of labor market distress

All summer, as EPI has continued to track the nearly catatonic state of the labor market, one central theme has emerged: As a nation we cannot stand by and do nothing about this national emergency.   This week’s Economic Snapshot by EPI labor economist Dr. Heidi Shierholz speaks to the urgency:

As the snapshot explains, the unemployment rate has been at or above 8.8% for the past 28 months.  With unemployment lingering at this staggeringly high level, we clearly need a more concerted effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Some effective job creation strategies include enacting a program to repair and upgrade the nation’s 100,000 public school buildings, implementing direct job creation programs in hard-hit communities, approving additional spending on transportation infrastructure, providing fiscal relief to states, and expanding the safety net.

EPI’s analyses of the labor market and methods to boost it have been cited by numerous major media outlets, including the New York Times, The National Journal, The New Republic, NPR, CNN Money, PBS NewsHour, ABC News, Daily Kos,The Maddow Blog, Reuters, and Salon.

The New York Times editorial, “A Jobs Agenda, Anyone?” cited EPI and the 21st Century School Fund’s proposal to address the jobs crisis in tandem with tackling disrepair in the nation’s schools:

There are other ideas worth fighting for. Take, for example, Fix America’s Schools Today, or FAST, an idea that has been incorporated into a House proposal to be introduced this fall by Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. Public school buildings in the United States are on average over 40 years old and in need of an estimated $500 billion in repairs and upgrades. A $50 billion school renovation program would employ 500,000 workers (1.5 million construction workers are currently unemployed) and could be easily scaled up. The money could be disbursed through existing federal formulas to all 16,000 public school districts.

The National Journal quoted EPI’s Shierholz’s observation that while “the stimulus did pretty much what it said it was going to do,”but it just was not big enough given the scope of the crisis and much more needs to be done to tackle the 11 million gap in the labor market.

From The Maddow Blog: “The Economic Policy Institute posts another way of looking at America’s jobs crisis. We’re now well more than two years into a job market that’s worse than anything we saw in the two previous recessions.”

In the article, “Construction workers have left the building,” Slate magazine’s Annie Lowery cited Shierholz’s research on what happened to the construction sector during the recession and subsequent labor market downturn.

Despite the seeming lack of interest shown by many Washington, D.C policymakers, EPI will continue to take seriously our job of focusing on what is best for America’s working families. And right now, nothing is more critical than putting people back to work.  We will continue to analyze and explain the need to rebuild the broken labor market until effective job creation policies are implemented.

Debates on the federal budget look at impact on the American worker

EPI has brought a critical perspective to this summer’s federal budget debates, following our mandate to emphasize the concerns of U.S. workers by considering how their opportunities would fare under proposed policies.  Of every proposal, we ask, “would it strengthen the labor market and lessen unemployment, fund essential national projects and programs, and promote fairer tax policies?”

EPI’s efforts to promote progressive policies that benefit all Americans have been cited by PoliticoThe New Republic, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Washington Post, and the Rachel Maddow Show.

EPI President Dr. Lawrence Mishel told Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post  that both immediate and long-term job creation programs should be priorities. Though “there are certain things being talked about, like patent reform and trade treaties, that at best create jobs in the long term,” we need programs that create jobs now, Mishel said.

The imperative to create not cut jobs was noted in The Hill, which quoted EPI’s warning that the domestic cuts in the debt ceiling deal “will kill at least 323,000 jobs in 2012 alone. “

In total, EPI’s recent analyses of the latest job market trends and federal budget proposals were covered by more than 350 media outlets, including blogs, radio, print, and television.

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