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EconomicPolicyInstitute July 13, 2012

Famed political consultant James Carville and leading Democratic pollster and strategist Stan Greenberg joined forces to write their new book, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! In the book, they detail how the working and middle classes have lost ground over the past 30 years, drawing heavily from EPI’s research.

In his latest article, National Journal’s Charlie Cook reviews the book and praises the pair, noting EPI’s intellectual contribution. He writes: “The pair challenged economist Larry Mishel, who heads the liberal Economic Policy Institute, to come up with 15 charts that ‘tell the story’ of what has happened to the middle class. What Mishel produced is deeply disturbing and is alone worth the price of the book—a picture of what many of us sensed had happened, but that is much more dramatic when graphically displayed.”

Bush tax cut extension for top brackets would bestow windfall on wealthiest Americans

With the Bush tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year, President Obama has begun calling on Congress to pass a one-year extension of the cuts for households making less than $250,000 in adjusted gross income ($200,000 for single filers). In contrast, the House Republican leadership is expected to continue pushing for extension of all the Bush tax cuts, which are estimated to have added $2.6 trillion to public debt from 2001–2010.

This week’s Economic Snapshot illustrates the difference between the administration’s desired policy of rolling back these tax cuts for the top two brackets beginning in 2013 (affecting around 2 percent of filers) and the policy supported by most congressional Republicans of keeping the cuts in place for those at the top of the income distribution. For tax units in the top 1.0 percent of the cash income distribution (with income of at least $569,944), this policy difference concerns an average cut of almost $25,000 in 2013 alone. For tax units in the top 0.1 percent (with income of at least $2,474,273), this policy difference concerns an average cut of around $140,000 in the same time period.

Job seekers still face long odds

This week’s release of May’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided further evidence that the recovery continues to stagnate. The job-seekers ratio, the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings, fell slightly (by one-tenth) to 3.5-to-1, according to EPI economist Elise Gould. In addition, Gould noted the increase of 148,000 hires in May. Looking at the data over time, hires are on a slow upward climb—up 18.5 percent since the official start of the recovery in June 2009—but hiring is still 16.0 percent below its 2007 average.

What’s happening at 1333 H St.?

On Tuesday, July 17, the Economic Policy Institute invites you to the forum “The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States,” which will examine the impact trade with China has on jobs and wages of U.S. workers.

Moderated by Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, the panel will include Gary Burtless (senior fellow in economic studies, The Brookings Institution), Thea Lee (deputy chief of staff and economist, AFL-CIO), Robert Scott (director of trade and manufacturing policy research, Economic Policy Institute), and David Autor (professor of economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and faculty research associate, National Bureau of Economic Research).

When: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 12:30–2:30 PM

To attend, please register here.

Influencing the debate

As job growth continues to drag, more people than ever are concerned with how policies at all levels of government and international trade trends affect the U.S. labor market. Just this week EPI’s research was cited by over 600 news outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Associated Press, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Salon, CNN, and Women’s Wear Daily.

  • In the editorial “The road to more jobs,” the New York Times cited EPI economists Heidi Shierholz and Josh Bivens’s blog post Three years into recovery, just how much has state and local austerity hurt job growth? to explain what effect the massive job losses in the public sector have had on state economies.  “A recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the loss of public-sector jobs, largely because of state budget cuts, has been the biggest hit to job growth over the past three years.”
  • In a guest commentary for The Hill, EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey challenged the claim that increasing the minimum wage would cause job losses and explained that the theory is based on unsound and outdated research. In fact, the old Economics 101 textbook theory that a higher minimum wage will necessarily reduce employment is not supported by empirical research, wrote Eisenbrey. Click here to read the entire article.
  • Also contributing to The Hill, EPI President Lawrence Mishel reiterated why the jobs crisis is the preeminent economic challenge of our time. “Our failure to adequately address the persistent high unemployment rate means we can expect depressed wages; eroded benefits; wrecked career trajectories, especially for the young; and years before family incomes return to their pre-recession levels,” wrote Mishel. Click here to learn how Mishel suggests policymakers generate jobs now.

And from the EPI blog, Working Economics:

From the EPI Blog
Elise Gould
CPI Shows Real Wages Continue to be Flat
David Cooper
Amazing Black Friday Deals, Brought to You by the American Taxpayer
Alyce Anderson
The President’s Actions on Immigration Will Make America Better
Josh Bivens
Why Tax Cuts Aren’t the Answer to Wage Problems
Daniel Costa
President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Improve the Wages and Working Conditions of Unauthorized Immigrants and U.S.-Born Workers Alike
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