Economic Policy Institute

In Brief:

Provides authoritative research on economic trends that affect workers and their families. EPI’s Raising America’s Pay initiative documents wage problems and the major causes of wage suppression and identifies policies that will generate robust wage growth. EPI is the secretariat for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), which has more than sixty partners across forty-six states focusing on state and local policies that can lift wage growth.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States. EPI’s research helps policymakers, opinion leaders, advocates, journalists, and the public understand the bread-and-butter issues affecting ordinary Americans. By identifying trends and tracking them to their policy causes, EPI provides a roadmap for returning to an America where low-wage employees earn enough to make a living, the middle class is strong and growing, and workers who help our economy grow share in its prosperity.

History

EPI was the first — and remains the premier — think tank to focus on the economic condition of low- and middle-income Americans and their families. Its encyclopedic State of Working America, published 12 times since 1988, and now for the first time in complete electronic form as well, is stocked in university libraries around the world. In the 1990s EPI researchers were the first to illustrate the decoupling of productivity and pay in the U.S. economy, a trend now widely recognized as a key element of growing economic inequality. EPI changed the nature of public debates over international trade agreements by underscoring their effects on workers and the importance of putting enforceable labor standards in trade agreements. EPI has focused, and continues to focus unrelentingly and unfailingly on the current jobs crisis and what it means for America’s workers.

Research

EPI’s research is cutting-edge, original, and reliable, and it spans a broad range of economic issues. EPI analyses are a trusted resource for policy makers, those in the media, national progressive advocacy organizations and state research organizations. EPI conducts original research according to rigorous standards of objectivity and, as a result, is a reliable source of information and analysis. In-house researchers maintain their standing in the academic community by publishing findings in prestigious peer-reviewed academic journals and by delivering public lectures, speeches, and testimony. Our methods for ensuring our research methodologies are exemplary and include the use of highly qualified researchers and reviews by outside experts from across the ideological spectrum.

EPI has world-class expertise.Our team includes the best minds in economics and other disciplines. Our broad network of researchers and scholars has made EPI the authoritative source on the economic well-being of working Americans. EPI’s staff includes nine Ph.D.-level economists, and a number of other experts with advanced degrees in Sociology, Public Policy, and Law. Our staff also includes ten policy analysts and research assistants, and a full communications and outreach staff.

Solutions

EPI provides visionary solutions and leadership. EPI shapes public policy on the federal and state level through compelling research and innovative ideas. It is recognized as national leaders on breakthrough liberal economic policies. EPI Research Associate and Yale university professor Jacob Hacker developed the concept of the public option—the idea that the government would provide health insurance and compete with private insurers to assure robust competition. EPI’s analysis has also shaped the way the economy is viewed. For instance, EPI researchers were the first ones to profile the emerging gap between growing productivity and the wages and compensation of typical workers. An EPI economist was the first to compute the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings—the job-seekers to job-openings ratio—a commonsense way to help the public understand the difficulty of finding a job. EPI has long profiled the stagnation of workers’ wages, the deterioration of job quality, and rising inequalities. EPI also oversaw the formation of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) of state and regional multi-issue research, policy, and advocacy organizations. Finally, EPI is beholden to no one: we say what we think is true regardless of who might not want to hear it. We believe that is what it means to be a leader.

Our Issues. EPI’s work spans a range of economic policy issues, including Education; Federal Budget, Deficits and Taxes; Health; Immigration; Jobs, Wages and Living Standards; Labor Policy; Macroeconomic Performance; Public Investment; Race, Ethnicity and the Economy; Regulation; Retirement; and Trade and Globalization. Policy issues are approached by documenting the experiences of low- and moderate-income workers and families, and asking how public policy can and will impact jobs, economic growth, and the well-being of all Americans.

EPI produces numerous research papers and policy analyses; sponsors conferences and seminars; briefs policy makers at all levels of government; provides technical support to national, state, and local constituency and advocacy organizations; testifies before national, state, and local legislatures; and provides information and background to the media. In a typical year, EPI is cited in the media more than 20,000 times and is mentioned and/or our staff are seen or heard by over 300 million people on television and radio.

Values

  • Helping Working People. Economic policy should focus on improving conditions for working people.
  • Truth and Accuracy Matter. EPI research should be honest and rigorous.
  • Dignified, Remunerative Work. People must be provided with the capacity and opportunity for dignified, remunerative work for personal as well as societal benefit.
  • Strong, Effective Labor Movement. A strong, effective labor movement is essential for democracy and to ensure an equitable sharing of income and wealth.
  • Government for the People. Government should set standards and rules for markets, and should ensure the efficient provision of public goods and investments.