Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was formerly chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Barack Obama’s economics team.

 

Recent Articles

Full Employment at Risk

Even before the World Trade Center tragedy struck a blow at the economy, the national unemployment rate had begun to rise in recent months--and comments like these began appearing in the press: "The economy is moving to a more normal, sustainable unemployment rate after a period of rapid growth" (Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse First Boston, quoted in The Washington Post, May 5, 2001). "Unemployment, despite thousands of recent layoffs across a wide range of sectors, is still well below the rate commonly associated with stable inflation and growth" ( New York Times editorial, June 28, 2001). And even though the recent rise to 4.9 percent was enough to frighten the stock market and provoke calls for anti-recession measures, attention was focused more on the slow growth rate and stagnant corporate profits. Where unemployment is concerned, the conventional wisdom is that 4.9 percent, if anything, is too low. Important policy-making institutions echo these sentiments...

Economic Casualties

F or the first time in a decade, our economy is in recession. It's not official yet--the group that dates recessions doesn't act until after the fact--but there's little doubt that we're in the midst of a downturn. The tragedy of September 11 didn't sink the economy; it was already listing badly. But the terrorist attacks will undoubtedly extend its length and depth. Low-income working families have always been the least insulated from market forces. When the economy sneezes, they get pneumonia. It's been a while since we've had to think about how to help these families get through a period like this, and a lot has changed. For the first time in decades, the full-employment economy of the late 1990s brought real wage gains for the lowest-paid workers. The safety net also changed a lot, in some cases intentionally (welfare reform) and in some cases owing to neglect (unemployment insurance). One of the most notable trends--the millions of low-income mothers who left welfare for work--...

Two Cheers for the EITC

I like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) a lot. I also really like brownies with gobs of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. But I don't have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The EITC--a refundable tax credit that subsidizes the wages of low-income workers--is everyone's darling. New Democrats love it. President Clinton expanded it significantly in his first budget and recently proposed another expansion. Almost every economist willing to use tax policy to help low-income families supports it. Even the right is on board. When congressional Republicans wanted to delay EITC payments to help make their budget numbers add up, candidate George W. Bush (still in compassionate mode) went after them with vigor for trying to balance the budget "on the backs of the poor." And in recent testimony around a proposed minimum wage increase, House Republicans were falling all over each other to heap praise on the EITC as a far better alternative (though none was proposing to increase it). But is...

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