Much has happened on the policy front. In February, Teresa Ghilarducci, SCEPA’s director, testified before the U.S Congress’ Joint Economic Committee on older workers’ loss of bargaining power. She testified that many older workers—without sufficient retirement savings and options experience low reservation wages and bargaining power—are becoming a new precariat. She called for Congress to create an Older Workers Bureau to analyze conditions facing older workers coordinate the vast resources of the U.S. government to address them. Just nine months later, Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Marie Newman (D-IL) introduced the Older Workers Bureau Act, which would establish an Older Workers’ Bureau under the Department of Labor.
SCEPA also commends the bipartisan, bicameral legislative proposal that if passed would boostretirement savings significantly. Introduced by Senators John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL-7) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), the Retirement Savings for Americans Act broadens access to well-run retirement accounts and government subsidies for savings incentives to low and moderate earners. The legislation follows recommendations made by Professor Ghilarducci in a white paper written with Kevin Hassett, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
On the research front, SCEPA produced leading and well-cited scholarship on retirement trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, the wages of older workers, the impact of a Social Security proposal for catch-up contributions, a proposal for a carbon wealth tax, and infrastructure financing, to name a few.
We believe that we cannot achieve our goals without partners. This year we were most pleased to have worked with Monique Morrissey of the Economic Policy Institute on the Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook which links older workers’ labor market challenges with their retirement insecurity. We expect policy makers, advocates, and scholars to refer often to this robust and dynamic document. We also worked with NSSR Dean Will Millberg and Associate Professor of Economics Paulo dos Santos to create a free online introductory heterodox economics course that addresses the power dynamics that determine how people and resources are valued, how goods move around the world, and how we manage our planet and the future.
Finally and most importantly, each year we hire students with the goal of supporting their trajectory into academia or the policy world. We were pleased to welcome Drystan Phillips as our 2022 ReLab research associate. He received his MA in economics for the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and started his career at the RAND Corporation working on Global Aging, Health, and Policy. We’re equally thrilled to report that Aida Farmand, our former fellow, accepted a position at the University of California Berkeley Labor Center. We very much look forward to what the future holds for them both.
As we delve into 2023 we look forward to expanding on the policy achievements of 2022 and supporting the important work being done to address the retirement crisis and bolster the bargaining power of older workers. We’ll also be deepening our engagement with our partners to support the dissemination and expansion of the Older Worker and Retirement Chartbook. Our research will focus on wealth inequality, the economics of the welfare state, and the link between industrial and antitrust policy and labor power and unions.