Areas of expertise
Education • Labor markets • Income distribution and poverty • Industrial relations • Technology and productivity • Wages • Unions and collective bargaining
Lawrence Mishel, a nationally recognized economist, is president of the Economic Policy Institute, a role he assumed in 2002. Mishel first joined EPI in 1987 as research director. In the more than two decades he has been with EPI, Mishel has helped build it into the nation’s premier research organization focused on U.S. living standards and labor markets.
Mishel has co-authored all 12 editions of The State of Working America, a book that former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich says “remains unrivaled as the most-trusted source for a comprehensive understanding of how working Americans and their families are faring in today’s economy.” The State of Working America has been an invaluable resource in newsrooms, classrooms, and halls of power since 1988.
Mishel’s primary research interests include labor markets and education. He has written extensively on wage and job quality trends in the United States. He co-edited a research volume on emerging labor market institutions for the National Bureau of Economic Research. His 1988 research on manufacturing data led the U.S. Commerce Department to revise the way it measures U.S. manufacturing output. This new measure helped accurately document the long decline in U.S. manufacturing, a trend that is now widely understood.
Mishel leads EPI’s education research program. He has written extensively on charter schools, teacher pay, and high school graduation rates. His research with Joydeep Roy has shown that high school graduation rates are significantly higher than the rates that are often cited by education analysts. This work has enabled policymakers to more accurately assess the state of U.S. public education.
Mishel has testified before Congress on the importance of promoting policies that reduce inequality, generate jobs, improve the lives of American workers and their families, and strengthen the middle class. He also serves frequently as a commentator in print, broadcast, and online media.
Prior to joining EPI, Mishel held a number of research roles, including a fellowship at the U.S. Department of Labor. He also served as a faculty member at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Mishel also served as an economist for several unions, including the Auto Workers, Steelworkers, AFSCME, and the Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO. Mishel holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Originally from Philadelphia, he has four children and one grandson and lives with his wife and two dogs in Washington, D.C.
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
M.A., Economics, American University
B.S., Pennsylvania State University
Search publications by Lawrence Mishel
CEO compensation in the largest firms dipped temporarily in 2015 and remains 940.9 percent above its 1978 level. This growth in CEO compensation far exceeded the growth of the stock market, which grew forty-two percent less (up 542.9 percent).
Wages rising faster than the rate of inflation should be the norm
in the American economy and should occur all the time, without fanfare and self-congratulation from employers. That wage increases are newsworthy even while unemployment is below five percent is quite telling. Even at such a low unemployment rate, all the power in the employment relationship still rests with employers.
In 2015, CEOs in America’s largest firms made an average of $15.5 million—276 times the annual average pay of the typical worker. While the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio is down from 302-to-1 in 2014, the drop reflects a dip in the stock market, meaning CEO pay will rise once the stock market resumes. And the fact that CEO pay is growing a lot faster than profits, the pay of the top 0.1 percent of wage earners, and the wages of college graduates means that CEOs are getting more because of their power, not because they are more productive, or have special talent, or more education.
Trump’s latest take on trade is a scam. He claims to be offering a path for workers, but is actually just offering mostly empty boxes on trade. What exactly is he trying to accomplish with renegotiated trade deals? And if his so keen to help working people, why does he then steer the discussion back toward the traditional corporate agenda of tax cuts for corporations and the rich? Some pro-worker, anti-elite populist Trump is.
From time to time researchers have raised technical measurement issues with our research showing that the compensation of a typical worker has diverged from overall productivity. The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk—a repeat player—has a new entry.
On Thursday, June 9, EPI President Lawrence Mishel, on behalf of the EPI Policy Center, addressed the Democratic National Convention Platform Drafting Committee about the need for a policy agenda that proactively addresses decades of wage stagnation.
Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center, delivered testimony before the Democratic National Convention Platform Drafting Hearing on June 9, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
I am Lawrence Mishel, and I am representing the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center. Thank you for inviting me to testify today.
The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule significantly increases the number of salaried workers who qualify for time-and-a-half pay for any hours they work beyond 40 in a week.
As union membership has fallen over the last few decades, the share of income going to the top 10 percent has steadily increased. Union membership fell to 11.1 percent in 2014, where it remained in 2015.
EPI counts everyone who is covered by the FLSA and earning a salary between the old threshold and the new one as benefitting from the new rule. This is because they will know—most of them for the first time—that they are entitled to overtime pay. Until now, many of those 12.5 million employees were denied overtime pay based on the duties tests and treated as exempt, even though they were not clearly or legitimately exempt. At the very least, all of these workers have now had their rights strengthened and clarified.
An interesting story in the New York Times
this morning looks at the effect that job losses from trade have had on people’s political views. It’s no surprise that voters on the losing end of globalization are disenchanted with the political mainstream, as the Times
puts it. They have every right to be.
Introduction and executive summary
A renowned California court decision in 2014 declaring that teacher tenure laws violated the state constitution has highlighted the issue of tenure and its relationship to the allocation of teachers across schools (Vergara v.
Under the planned higher minimum wages and with various social supports (EITC and others), even the lowest-paid workers could attain a decent standard of living. That is a goal worthy of bold policy making like a higher minimum wage, which is essential to making sure that working people get a fair return on their work and enjoy shared prosperity. It’s about time.
Whether drivers for ride services such as Uber and Lyft are employees or independent contractors has become an important issue for city administrators, labor policymakers, and the businesses and drivers themselves.
EPI President Larry Mishel joined C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” to discuss economic policies and goals put forth by President Obama in the State of the Union.
An annotated discussion of the discussion of wages and inequality in President Obama's State of the Union address.
While there are important issues regarding the economic security of freelancers, hype about freelancing and gig work perhaps distracts from broader issues that deserve attention, such as the spread of employee misclassification.
After dipping slightly in 2013, annual earnings of the top 1.0 percent of wages earners grew 4.9 percent in 2014, and the top 0.1 percent’s earnings grew 8.9 percent, according to our analysis of the latest Social Security Administration wage data.
One way to track growth in the “gig,” or Uber, economy is to identify the share of workers that are self-employed. As Justin Fox
has written, self-employment has actually fallen, contradicting the notion of an exploding gig economy in which everyone will soon be a freelance worker.
In the debate over the relationship between economy-wide productivity and typical workers’ pay the numbers are clear: typical workers’ pay hasn’t come close to keeping up with productivity, and a wide gap between the two has developed.
We learned from the Census Bureau this morning that the decent employment growth in 2014 yielded no improvements in wages and, not surprisingly, no improvement in the median incomes of working-age households or drop in the number of people living in poverty.
The proposed rule will restore or strengthen overtime protections for millions of salaried workers, protections that have been eroded by decades of bureaucratic hostility and neglect.
The data series and methods we use to construct our graph of the growing gap between productivity and typical worker pay best capture how income generated in an average hour of work in the U.S. economy has not
trickled down to raise hourly pay for typical workers.
If the overtime salary threshold is raised to $50,440, then 6.7 million millennials, or 4.7 million more than are currently covered, would directly benefit from the proposed salary threshold, with most of them gaining new rights to overtime eligibility.
I am heartened that the SEC is finally adopting its CEO pay ratio disclosure rule.
EPI has been studying CEO pay and worker pay for more than 20 years.
These tables give a detailed breakdown of who is included in the estimated 13.5 million salaried workers who would directly benefit from the Department of Labor’s proposal to raise the salary threshold below which salaried workers are automatically eligible for overtime pay.
This technical memo explains the methodology we used to estimate the number of workers affected by the Department of Labor’s proposed update to the overtime salary threshold.
An estimated 13.5 million workers would directly benefit from the Department of Labor’s proposal to raise the salary threshold under which salaried workers are eligible for overtime pay regardless of their duties.