Talk:Economic Policy Institute

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The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank whose work focuses on economic policy related to low- and middle-income working people. Its website states that the "EPI believes every working person deserves a good job with fair pay, affordable health care, and retirement security."[1]

The EPI periodically publishes "The State of Working America," a report on "the economy’s effect on the living standards of working Americans" that includes data on household income, jobs, unemployment, poverty, and wealth.[2] The New York Review of Books has called "The State of Working America" an "indispensable work."[3] The report was first published in 1988, and its most recent edition was released in 2012.

The EPI was founded in 1986.[1]


The EPI's main issue areas are:

  • Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment
  • Economic Growth
  • Education
  • Green Economics
  • Health
  • Immigration
  • Inequality and Poverty
  • Jobs and Unemployment
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Regulation
  • Retirement
  • Trade and Globalization
  • Unions and Labor Standards
  • Wage, Income, and Wealth[4]

EPI's "flagship publication" is "The State of Working America," a resource published every two years with data and analysis about the effect of the economy on working families.[5] The New York Review of Books has called "The State of Working America" an "indispensable work."[3]

EPI also publishes reports and policy briefings related to its issue areas.


The EPI includes its annual reports, IRS filings, and audit reports on its website. The EPI states that between 2010 and 2012, it received over 60% of its funding from foundation grants and an addition 26% from labor unions. The rest of its funding comes from individuals, corporations, and other organizations.[1]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $5,013,159
  • Total Expenses: $6,043,042
  • Net Assets: $3,972,561


  • Total Revenue: $5,844,652
  • Total Expenses: $6,727,718
  • Net Assets: $5,002,444


  • Total Revenue: $6,573,520
  • Total Expenses: $6,426,906
  • Net Assets: $5,885,510

Funding Received from Tobacco Industry, 1980s-1990s

The EPI received some funding from the tobacco industry in the 1980s and 1990s,[9] including from the Tobacco Industry Labor Management Committee (LMC),[10] a group which was formed to resist smoke-free workplace rules, according to an article in the American Journal of Public Health.[11]

The EPI has criticized excise taxes on tobacco products for being regressive.[12][13] An article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine details how "[b]etween 1987 and 1997, the tobacco industry used the issue of cigarette excise tax increases to create a political partnership" between the tobacco industry and advocates for low-income Americans.[14] The LMC made use of the EPI and other liberal and labor groups concerned about regressivity in order to advance its general campaign against regulation and taxation of tobacco.[14]

Archival documents suggest that tobacco funding to EPI was reduced in the 1990s as a result of the EPI being "nonresponsive" to the LMC.[15]


Board of Directors

As of July 2014:[16]

Former Board Members

  • Barry Bluestone, board member emeritus.
  • Ray Marshall, board member emeritus; former Secretary of Labor under Pres. Jimmy Carter; Advisory Commission on Labor Development under Pres. Bill Clinton
  • Robert Reich, board member emeritus; former Secretary of Labor; co-founder, The American Prospect

Senior Staff

As of July 21, 2014.[17]

  • Lawrence Mishel, President
  • Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President
  • Alyce Anderson, Executive Assistant to the President
  • Elizabeth Rose, Director of Communications
  • Josh Bivens, Research and Policy Director
  • Arlene Williams, Director of Development and Strategic Planning
  • Douglas Hall, Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)
  • Christian Dorsey, Director of External and Government Affairs

Additional staff members are listed on EPI's staff page.

Contact Information

Economic Policy Institute
1333 H St. NW
Suite 300 East Tower
Washington, DC 20005

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Economic Policy Institute, About, organizational website, accessed July 21, 2014.
  2. Economic Policy Institute, "State of Working America, report, accessed July 21, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Simon Head, "[ The New, Ruthless Economy ]," New York Review of Books, February 29, 1996. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  4. Economic Policy Institute, Areas of Research, organizational website, accessed July 21, 2014.
  5. Economic Policy Institute, Resources, organizational website, accessed July 21, 2014.
  6. Economic Policy Institute, 2012 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, July 26, 2013. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  7. Economic Policy Institute, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, October 25, 2012. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  8. Economic Policy Institute, 2010 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, November 1, 2011. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  9. Tobacco Institute memo, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  10. Labor Management Comm, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  11. Edith D. Balbach, PhD, Elizabeth M. Barbeau, MPH, ScD, Viola Manteufel, BA, and Jocelyn Pan, DrPH, "Political Coalitions for Mutual Advantage: The Case of the Tobacco Institute’s Labor Management Committee," American Journal of Public Health, June 2005, volume 95, issue 6.
  12. Max B. Sawicky, "Not Regressive? Comments on the CBO Study, Federal Taxation of Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages, and Motor Fuels," Economic Policy Institute, January 1, 1990. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  13. Economic Policy Institute, "Earmarking Excise Taxes," Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Edith D. Balbach, PhD and Richard B. Campbell, ScD, "Union Women, the Tobacco Industry, and Excise Taxes: A Lesson in Unintended Consequences," American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2009, volume 37. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  15. LMC memo, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. Accessed July 21, 2014.
  16. Economic Policy Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed July 21, 2014.
  17. Economic Policy Institute, Staff, organizational website, accessed July 21, 2014.

Edit note

Removing unreferenced material to talk. will create stub pending referencing being added to the following material.--Bob Burton 23:03, 14 August 2009 (EDT)


The Economic Policy Institute was founded in 1986 to help broaden the national debate over economic policy. Founding economists include Jeff Faux, Barry Bluestone, Robert Kuttner, Ray Marshall, Robert Reich, and Lester Thurow. The Institute was the first (and remains the premier) organization to focus on the economic conditions of working Americans and their families.[1] Initially, the Institute’s core research program areas included changes in the area of living standards [2] and in labor market opportunities [3]; trade and competitiveness issues [4]; and the role of government in the economy [5]. As the Institute grew, it added education as one of the major programs to its portfolio Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Over the years, EPI organized hundreds of prominent economists, including several Nobel Prize winners, to sign public statements calling for an increase in the minimum wage. EPI worked closely with other national groups and their partners in EARN to secure minimum wage increases at the federal and state level.

Agenda for Shared Prosperity

On January 11, 2007, the Economic Policy Institute launched the Agenda for Shared Prosperity, a new policy initiative that will formulate an economic policy agenda to reduce economic insecurity of working families and provide broadly shared prosperity. This project was launched at the public forum in Washington, D.C. with a keynote address by Sen. James Webb.

The project draws upon a wide range of leading experts on economics and policy from across the country and makes proposals on health care, retirement security, globalization, balancing work and families, education, job markets, and other critical issues.

The Agenda for Shared Prosperity policy proposals are based on the belief that the success or failure of the economy is not measured by the value of the stock market or the size of the gross domestic product, but by the extent to which living standards for the vast majority are growing and improving. The Agenda challenges the assertion that global forces, technology, and competition have rendered America helpless, and that there is nothing can be done except adjust individually to the outcomes of an unregulated market. As an alternative, the Agenda for Shared Prosperity project is offering a new generation of social and economic reform in America. [6]

The State of Working America

The Economic Policy Institute’s flagship publication is The State of Working America. Since 1988, the Institute has published 10 editions of the book biennially. The State of Working America sums up the problems and challenges facing American working families, presenting a wide variety of data on family incomes, taxes, wages, unemployment, wealth, and poverty—data that enables the book's authors to closely examine the impact of the economy on the living standards of the American people. The book seeks to determine how well the U.S. economy is functioning from the perspective of working Americans and their families, and it has emerged as the authoritative source on income, wage growth, and distribution issues. It also includes regional analyses and international comparisons chapters. [7]

The State of Working America is authored by EPI’s staff economists. The current 2008-09 edition was authored by Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Heidi Shierholz [8]. Previous editions’ authors included Heather Boushey, John Schmitt, David Frankel, and Jacqueline Simon.

The State of Working America has been widely praised in the press and is extensively used in various social sciences courses by universities and colleges.

Praise for The State of Working America

“The State of Working America is a well-written, soundly argued, and important reference book.” – Library Journal

“If you want to know what happened to the economic well-being of the average American in the past decade or so, this is the book for you. It should be required reading for Americans of all political persuasions.” – Richard Freeman, Harvard University

“A truly comprehensive and useful book that provides a reality check on loose statements about U.S. labor markets. It should be cheered by all Americans who earn their living from work.” William Wolman, chief economist, CNBC’s Business Week

“An indispensable work… on family income, wages, taxes, employment, and the distribution of wealth.” – Simon Head, The New York Review of Books

“Its… pages are packed with facts and figures about the U.S. labor market and written up in a challenging and punchy style. No recruitment company or human resource manager should be without a copy.” – Robert Taylor, Financial Times

“Read The State of Working America to appreciate how growth is generating benefits very unequally.” – Harvard Business Review

Global Policy Network (GPN)

The Global Policy Network (GPN) consists of policy and research institutions connected to the world's trade union movements. GPN's work reflects a concern with the economic, social, and political conditions of working people in both developing and developed nations. The network's purpose is to exchange information and research among its member organizations; facilitate coordinated analysis of common issues; and provide information to others on the state of working people in the global economy. [9]

GPN has its own history, stemming from a 2000 conference in Germany. At that conference, among other things, GPN established a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee oversees the initial GPN program, which includes:

• Bringing together and forging links between institutes connected to unions and labor movements in developed and developing countries.

• Sharing research and ideas through a common Web site and regular conferences and workshops.

• Facilitating exchanges of visiting scholars between member institutions.

• Creating the basis for collaborative research projects and other related activities.

Among GPN’s accomplishments:

• Expansion and capacity building • Making the definition of “informal economies” more precise • Creating a “Good Jobs Index” that details the various facets of “good jobs” • Creating Labor’s Platform for the Americas • Combating privatization in South Africa and Turkey

Major Program Areas

Living Standards and Labor Markets

One of EPI’s core functions is to carefully track the living standards of working families. More so than any other research organization, EPI has developed the economic metrics, such as hourly wage series by decile, and detailed databases on inequality, job quantity and quality, that enable a thorough evaluation of how working families are faring [10].

The living standard program tells the story of how key economic variables are evolving, and explains what factors are driving these changes. This describes much of EPI’s daily activities, from their acclaimed reference volume, The State of Working America [11], to communicating with a popular audience via blogs, radio, and TV appearances [12].

EPI offers policy recommendations to correct the economic and power imbalances that are increasingly preventing workers and families from 1) claiming their fair share of economic growth; and 2) existing with a level of dignity, hope, and safety commensurate with the nation’s wealth. The relevant policy set will help reconnect the living standards of all working families to the growing American economy, not just the privileged few at the apex of the wealth pyramid. While primarily focused on the national picture, program staff provides technical assistance and state-specific analyses to activists, advocates, and policy makers across the United States. [13]

Trade and Globalization

EPI also works on issues of trade and globalization, producing trade and jobs data and analyses that are widely cited in Congressional debates and the media [14]. The research examines outsourcing, offshoring, and the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Its stated goals include helping other countries adopt core labor standards, including rights of collective bargaining, and helping them create a middle class with the purchasing power to boost the economy. Among the policy-specific agenda items it promotes in pursuit of these goals are the abolition of child and forced labor and discrimination by ethnicity, gender, or caste. [15]


EPI produces research and publications in the field of education, ranging from pre-k level to higher education [16]. Among the topics it addresses are the importance of teacher quality, charter schools and vouchers, and ways to close the educational achievement gap between the children from poor backgrounds and their better-off classmates. EPI also produces economic analysis on, for example, urban high school graduation rates and the effects of school reforms such as smaller classrooms and school choice programs. [17]

The Institute often partners with experts in the education field to author books and other publications. Some such recent partnerships include with Richard Rothstein, former New York Times education columnist and professor at the Columbia University Teachers’ College, who authored Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap.

Fiscal Policy and Public Investment

EPI makes an important contribution to public policy debates on tax cuts, Social Security, public investment [18], federal budget issues and priorities, privatization, and the challenges facing state and local governments.

EPI critiqued the Bush administration's proposals for new federal tax cuts mostly for the highest income Americans, and offered an alternative economic stimulus plan. [19] EPI's comprehensive economic stimulus proposal included one-time tax credits for lower and middle-income families; federal aid to hard-pressed state governments; and federal assistance for sorely needed school renovation and construction. This program would have pumped an infusion of money into the economy at a critical moment—creating millions of jobs without generating federal budget deficits for years to come. EPI's economic roadmap was widely adopted by progressive leaders and groups.

In 2005, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress mounted a campaign to privatize Social Security. EPI joined forces with other progressive groups and organized labor to oppose this effort. EPI conducted research and analysis that laid out the costs and consequences for millions of seniors and families, especially for African Americans, for whom Social Security is a lifeline, and was instrumental in the successful nationwide effort to block the administration's plan. Through his expertise in this area, EPI Research Associate William Spriggs made a vital contribution to the debate and the ultimate defeat of the administration's effort to overhaul and privatize the program [20].


EPI is funded by a combination of foundation, corporate, labor, and individual donor support. [21]

External Links

• About EPI - [1]

• Agenda for Shared Prosperity - [2]

• Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) - [3]

• Global Policy Network - [4]

• EPI Economists - [5]

• The State of Working America - [6]

  1. Economic Policy Institute, "About the Economic Policy Institute", Economic Policy Institute website, accessed August 2009.
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