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EconomicPolicyInstitute May 30, 2008

It won’t be news to most readers that family finances are getting riskier over time, thanks to an increasing likelihood of sudden income drops (due to layoffs, company bankruptcies, etc.) or catastrophic expenses (primarily related to health care). EPI brought focus to the trend this week in a series of releases and an event involving two of the top analysts on the issue, Jacob S. Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University and Elisabeth Jacobs, a fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard. An EPI Snapshot shows graphically the growth of income volatility since 1973, while a longer briefing paper examines the trend in more detail. Hacker and Jacobs also spoke at an EPI forum on volatility, joined by Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Gosselin and Cato Institute Vice President Brink Lindsey and moderated by New York Times reporter Louis Uchitelle. One idea that generated heated discussion: Americans are materially better off by many measures than previous generations, but carry added stress caused by the prospect that their well-being could quickly disappear. Check back with for audio and video of the event, to be posted shortly.

Immigration reform
On May 23, EPI convened a panel of nationally recognized experts to discuss a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Participants included Doris Meissner, director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton Administration, Susan Martin and Michael Teitlebaum, members of the last U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, and Ray Marshall, President Jimmy Carter’s Labor Secretary and author of the EPI paper which provided the framework for the conversation’s starting point. For background information, see these papers, including Marshall’s plan, all part of EPI’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity.

EPI's Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the EconomyRace, ethnicity, and the subprime mortgage crisis
The subprime mortgage crisis, with its links to the broader housing sector and to financial markets, is at the top of the national policy agenda. As Congress and the Federal Reserve consider proposals for reform, it is important to consider how and why this crisis came to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. On Thursday, June 12, 2008, EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy presents a panel discussion to examine the reasons for this disparate impact and how policy reforms can be best tailored to serve the communities hardest hit by the crisis.

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Working for people who work for a living.
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