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EconomicPolicyInstitute December 8, 2009

During a week when the White House got down to business exploring ways to create more jobs, EPI’s research and policy recommendations dominated the nationwide discussion of the economy.

[Mishel at White House Jobs Summit]EPI President Lawrence Mishel (pictured) presented EPI’s new American Jobs Plan, a five-part approach to creating millions of jobs, to the White House Jobs Summit on December 3. Immediately afterward, Mishel was featured on ABC’s World News Tonight, arguing that additional aid to state and local governments would be a highly effective way to put people to work.

Mishel’s appearance on World News Tonight was just one of many news segments that highlighted EPI’s work. In a single week, EPI was featured on the three major television networks, as well as National Public Radio and in most major print news outlets around the country. Algernon Austin, director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, was featured on NBC Nightly News discussing the high rate of unemployment among black workers, including those who are college educated. Economist Heidi Shierholz described the unusually severe nature of the current jobs crisis during an interview for CBS Evening News, where she pointed out that nearly one in five workers are either unemployed or underemployed.

This intense focus on the jobs crisis came during a week when the Labor Department reported monthly unemployment fell slightly, to 10% in November from 10.2% in October, while the number of monthly job losses fell dramatically. While Shierholz said the new data show some long-awaited signs of healing in the labor market, she also stressed in her analysis of the new jobs report that the situation remains extremely serious: close to 27 million Americans cannot find the amount of work they want, and long-term unemployment (for six months or more) stands at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Blacks, Hispanics and less-educated workers are suffering rates of unemployment well above the nationwide average.

EPI’s American Jobs Plan, released shortly before the White House Jobs Summit, has helped frame the discussion about what sort of policy action should be adopted, and how it should be funded. Mishel was featured on CNBC defending the plan’s proposal to fund federal job creation efforts with a modest financial transactions tax. To critics who maintain that the private sector should be responsible for jobs creation, Mishel stressed that more government action to create jobs was needed because the private sector has not done enough. Economist Josh Bivens told CNN Money that the proposed 0.5% tax on financial transactions could generate significant revenue, without hurting trading.

Additional support for EPI’s American Jobs Plan came from an editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News, which said in part: “Wall Street is — you should pardon the expression — in the money again, even though it took the irresponsible risks that killed millions of jobs. Now the President and Congress must take some responsible risks to put ordinary Americans back to work.” A Detroit Free Press columnist who also cited the American Jobs Plan wrote, “I’m starting to fear that without a massive government work program, we’re doomed to endure outsized unemployment rates for a terribly long time.”

Visit the American Jobs Plan page on EPI’s Web site for more details about the five-part jobs creation proposal, and for ongoing news updates about the plan, visit the plan’s Facebook page.

[A Special Message from Economists Algernon Austin and Heidi Shierholz]

This is a truly historic moment. As the country struggles to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, EPI is working to ensure that the recovery is robust and that it includes all of us who are too often left out.

Our work focuses on low- and middle-income workers who have long seen their wages stagnate. On minorities, who suffer unemployment rates well above the national average. And on children, an alarming portion of whom live in poverty. Bankers are pocketing big bonuses but too many workers cannot find jobs. These workers — our friends, neighbors, and family members — are struggling to keep their homes and put food on the table.

EPI’s work to promote an economy in which low- and middle-income workers can prosper has never been more urgent. We ask that you consider a donation to support this vital work.

Today, nearly 27 million workers are unemployed or underemployed. More than one out of every three African American children live in poverty, and this figure will grow to more than one in every two African American children within the next few years. And even though many experts have declared the recession officially over, the country continues to lose jobs.

It was EPI that first sounded the alarm that this was no ordinary recession. Over the past year, we have consistently led the way in highlighting the needs of those without jobs, the working poor, and those lacking health insurance — and our work has been highly influential.

We produced more than 100 reports, and were cited more than 9,000 times in the media during the first 10 months of this year alone. Our economists helped shape national policy by testifying on Capitol Hill and briefing key leaders in Congress and the White House on matters ranging from the need for extended unemployment insurance to policies that would create millions of new jobs.

Please help us as we continue to push for an equitable and robust recovery: one that is judged not by the size of corporate profits but by the standard of living of every day working Americans. At EPI, we are stretching our resources as far as they can go and we need your help to keep our momentum strong. Please contribute today.

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