- On Capitol Hill
- On Wall Street
- In the Press
- Policy Reform Work
Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
Lance Taylor, SCEPA Faculty Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research, will join the keynote panel for the annual conference hosted by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
The conference will be in Toronto, Canada, from April 10-12. The event will highlight INET and CIGI's work to promote "new economic thinking" by identifying pervasive flaws in existing economic paradigms, promoting innovative interdisciplinary research, creating a strong global community for young scholars, and pushing the economics discipline to meaningfully address challenges of the 21st century.
Taylor will join the panel discussion, "Innovation and Inequality: Cause or Cure," to discuss his work with Professor Duncan Foley on an INET grant investigating the long-term consequences of economic growth, including the effects on climate change, the shift toward a service-centered economy, and the potential for financial and fiscal instability.
On December 10, 2013, SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci will testify before the Nebraska Legislature’s Retirement Systems Committee hosted by its chairperson, Senator Jeremy Nordquist. The hearing discusses LR344, legislation calling for an interim study to examine the availability and adequacy of retirement savings of Nebraska’s private sector workers.
In the last 10 years, Nebraska has seen a decline of 9% in the number of employers offering retirement plans to their workers, dropping from 66% to 57%. As a remedy to a looming retirement crisis caused by a lack of retirement income, Ghilarducci proposes opening the state's public pension system to private sector employees by creating State GRAs. This would provide residents access to professional money managers and allow them to choose among a variety of investments, including a guaranteed fund similar to the Thrift Savings Plans offered to federal employees and the TIAA-CREF plan offered to university professors.
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
This morning's November employment report has some welcome news, but let's not get too excited.
The unemployment rate moved down to 7 percent, the lowest level in five years. Unemployment was 7.3 last month, and 7.8 percent one year ago. The labor force increased slightly, so the dropping rate is due to increased employment.
On the jobs side, the economy added 203,000 net new jobs, and October numbers were revised upward to 200,000. These are net jobs. Direct federal government jobs fell again; direct federal employment has fallen by 92,000 jobs in the past year due to continuing budget cuts and austerity.
The job numbers come when other signs also point to a strengthening economy. Earlier this week, third quarter GDP was calculated at a 3.6 percent annual growth rate, well above the estimates of 2.8 percent. Are we finally seeing a stronger economy that doesn't need fiscal stimulus? Can the Federal Reserve start "tapering" its quantitative easing (QE) program?
While the numbers are welcome, we shouldn't get too excited about them, and certainly shouldn't ease off calls for more fiscal stimulus. Let's take the job gains in November. Is 203,000 a big number? Not especially. The average monthly job growth over the past year has been 195,000, and it would take almost two and one-half years at this rate to reach full employment. Jared Bernstein points out that the good numbers also are driven in part by an unusually large number of workers coming back from temporary layoffs largely due to the government shutdown.
How about the GDP increase? It is much stronger—double the 1.8 percent growth rate in the first half of 2013. But almost half of the third quarter increase is inventory buildup in anticipation of the holiday shopping season. It remains to be seen how strong sales will actually be, and if that inventory clears.
Will households buy that inventory? October's personal income numbers are a cause for concern. Real disposable personal income fell by 0.2 percent in October, after rising by 0.3 percent in September, and 0.4 percent in August. The October number may be a blip, but if real personal income stays down, then weak consumer demand will not lift the economy, clear the inventory gains, or contribute to growth.
All in all, November's employment report represents baby steps in the right direction. But the economy remains weak, and needs continuing government help, not increased austerity.