Congress should also raise the wage cap on Social Security payroll taxes. Currently, those CEOs pay no payroll taxes into the system on anything they make above $160,200. The Economic Policy Institute estimates this cap has cost the Social Security trust fund $1.4 trillion.
Despite the drumbeat of layoff announcements in industries like high-tech and financial services, the job market for young graduates is healthy. According to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 is 7.5% — the lowest in 70 years — as of March 2023.
ASCOE: I wanted to ask you, what made William Spriggs – known as Bill to his friends – so remarkable as an economist and as a person?
WILSON: I think as an economist, what made him so remarkable was his ability to really translate economic concepts into human issues and really doing economics with a purpose and a reason of improving lives. And I think that then, you know, sort of speaks volumes to who he was as a person and just his passion and commitment to making life better for the average worker and making life better for Black Americans specifically.
Between 2019 and 2022, the lowest 10 percent of wage earners nationally saw their inflation-adjusted hourly wage grow by 9 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That’s the fastest wage growth for the lowest-wage workers since 1979.
The Department of Labor found hundreds of workplaces in violation of these laws that protect minors, affecting nearly 4,000 kids. Fast food restaurants McDonald’s, Subway and Dunkin Donuts had the most violations, according to 2022 data.
“Many franchisees across many states have been investigated,” said Nina Mast with the Economic Policy Institute. She said fast food restaurants have been dinged for working kids too many hours and in violation of protections against hazardous work.
“Particularly around the use of manual deep fat fryers and other hazardous equipment in the fast food industry,” Mast added.
Mast’s research found that in the last two years, at least ten states have passed or have pushed looser child labor laws.
The national Economic Policy Institute ranks Wisconsin 20th in the nation for most expensive infant care, finding that the average Wisconsin family with two children would have to spend about a third of their annual income on child care.
You may have read about how Americans, on average, are coming up short when it comes to building their retirement nest eggs. According to data from the Economic Policy Institute, the median retirement savings for all working-age households is $95,776.
Larry Mishel, who was a colleague of Bill’s when both worked at the Economic Policy Institute, was a friend since they were in graduate school together at Madison beginning in the late 1970s. Bill was the only Black student in their entering cohort. Larry has written:
But the thing that made Bill Spriggs most special, from my experience, was his personal sweetness and generosity blended with political toughness and commitment. Valerie Wilson, who directs EPI’s much acclaimed Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, has written:
The dissertation set the tone for four decades of research and leadership by a scholar-activist of great intellect and great conscience, who went on to chair the economics department at Howard University, helped to define the Economic Policy Institute’s work on labor issues, led the National Commission for Employment Policy and the National Wage Record Database Design Project Report for the Clinton administration, served as assistant secretary for policy in Obama’s Labor Department, and spent the last decade of his life teaching economics at Howard and working with the AFL-CIO.
The federal government has vowed to crack down on violations of child labor laws, but the Economic Policy Institute, which examines the economic impact of government policies, reports that in the last two years, at least fourteen states have either passed or introduced measures to weaken the laws protecting children from dangerous working conditions. They permit longer work hours and more dangerous work, lower the ages for work around alcohol, or introduce new subminimum wages for children.
His career also includes time as executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Living Standards Program and a stint as deputy chief economist at the Department of Labor under the Clinton administration.
However, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the economic fate of Black women in America provides compelling evidence of the enduring impact of gender and race discrimination on workers and families.
Researchers at the EPI found that employer practices and government policies have historically disadvantaged Black women compared to white women and men, leading to unfavorable labor market positions.
Workers in the US have an estimated $50bn-plus stolen from them every year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, surpassing all robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts combined. The majority of these stolen wages are never recovered by workers.
To back their theory, Edwards and other progressive economists point to evidence from sources like the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which found in a January study that corporate profit hikes accounted for more than half of the inflation in 2021. The Economic Policy Institute came to a similar conclusion about the causes of inflation in an April 2022 article. And now, Edwards is warning that greedflation may have set the U.S. up for a “deeper” and “longer” recession than even the most bearish of investors are anticipating.
According to an analysis published by the Economic Policy Institute, corporate profits replaced unit labor costs as the largest contributor to unit price growth in the nonfinancial corporate sector from the second quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021, when compared with historical averages from 1979-2019.
For example, the Economic Policy Institute recently studied the role of public sector unions in reducing racial and gender inequality between workers in the public and private sector. They noted how “[i]n states where employers are required to bargain, Black and Hispanic workers earn more in local government than in the private sector, where they face large racial pay gaps.”
He was also a thoroughly lovely man. Bill was one of the first economists I met when I began my career at the Economic Policy Institute in the early 1990s. I was too naïve to know how unusual he was and thought “wow, professional economists are much cooler than I thought they’d be.”
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit organization that frequently addresses racial disparities in the economy and counts Spriggs as a former employee, mourned his death by remembering him as “a fierce proponent of racial and economic justice whose influence as a public intellectual and economist reached across academia, labor, think tanks, positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and the civil rights community.” Springss broadened “discussions about race and economics within these critical institutions” and “worked tirelessly behind the scenes to expand representation of people of color within the economics profession and mentor the next generation of economists,” EPI said.
In another study published in March, Jennifer Sherer and Nina Mast of the Economic Policy Institute also made the case for stronger laws. They took note of a decline in youth workforce participation over the past 20 years, indicating that more young people are continuing their education “in order to increase their long-term employability and earnings.”
“Putting off work in order to obtain more skills and education is a positive trend — for both individuals and the economy — not one that should be slowed or reversed,” Sherer and Mast argued.
“The question is, ‘How seriously does the government take the task?’ If your government is committed to rebuilding the public sector, you’ll make the investment,” said Dave Kamper, a senior state policy coordinator with the Economic Policy Institute.
Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, noted that the loss of income caused by unemployment can affect any household, but can exacerbate financial difficulties for Black families, who are less likely to have savings or multiple earners of income.
Meanwhile, a growing number of state lawmakers are proposing and passing legislation that loosens state restrictions on employing teen workers, according to findings by the worker advocacy group Economic Policy Institute.
While loss of income from unemployment can affect any household, it can create even more economic challenges for Black families, who are less likely to have savings or multiple people earning incomes, said Valerie Wilson, the director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy.
“That level of economic insecurity, I think, feeds into the more harmful impact of a job loss when you don’t have another earner in your household income,” Wilson said. “And then if there are not sufficient savings to sort of fill in that loss of income until someone can find a job.”
One argument from the left – including figures like Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute – is that the effects were profound, with the Budget Control Act of 2011 “largely responsible for the sluggish recovery” from a recession triggered by the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
The effects this time around aren’t likely to be that pronounced, largely because the 2011 law implemented discretionary spending caps that were enforceable for an entire decade. This year’s version has caps — but ones that become much less strict after just two years and could end up cutting deficits by far less than $1.5 trillion.