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Showing blog posts by William Spriggs

About William Spriggs

William Spriggs serves as Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO, and is a professor in, and former Chair of, the Department of Economics at Howard University.  Bill assumed these roles in August 2012 after leaving the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.

Bill was appointed by President Barack Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, in 2009 to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy at the United States Department of Labor, taking a leave of absence from Howard University to do so.  At the time of his appointment, he also served as chairman for the Healthcare Trust for UAW Retirees of the Ford Motor Company and as chairman of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust, vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute; and on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration’s Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States and the UFCW National Commission on ICE Misconduct; and, as Senior Fellow of the Community Service Society of New York; and served on the boards of the National Employment Law Project and the Eastern Economic Association.

Bill’s previous work experience includes roles leading economic policy development and research as a Senior Fellow and Economist at the Economic Policy Institute; as Executive Director for the Institute for Opportunity and Equality of the National Urban League; as a Senior Advisor for the Office of Government Contracting and Minority Business Development for the U.S. Small Business Administration; as a Senior Advisor and Economist for the Economics and Statistics Administration for the U.S. Department of Commerce; as an Economist for the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress; and, as staff director for the independent, federal National Commission for Employment Policy. 

While working on his PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Bill began his labor career as co-president of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 3220 in Madison, Wisconsin.

He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the National Academy of Public Administration.

FTT—Financial Transaction Tax or Flash Boys Transaction Tax?

Currently, at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in non-fiction is Michael Lewis’ Flashboys; a detailed look at how the high-frequency computerized trading of stocks allowed sophisticated programmers to beat top institutional investors to trades and pocket millions.  Lewis tells the story as a detective story, with a Royal Bank of Canada trader Brad Katsuyama as its protagonist, uncovering why his trades got delayed.  While many reviews have focused on the need to better regulate the stock market to insure its fairness, less attention has been paid to a big reveal of the book.

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Republicans Out on a Limb

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest numbers this week. Its preliminary number for people on payrolls, reported by private-sector establishments, is 116 million. That figure is higher than the last peak in January 2008, before President Barack Obama took office. This marks 49 straight months of job growth from the second year of the president’s first term. It took four years and three months for both the president and George W. Bush to get private-sector employment back to the level when they took office. The difference is that employment was falling when Obama took office, so it took an additional year to make up for the jobs lost during the Great Recession while Bush was still president.

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March Madness

1972–1973 UCLA Bruins men's basketball team team photo after 1973 NCAA Championship, Associated Students of the University of California at Los Angeles

This week, the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) in determining that the scholarship football players at private Northwestern University had the right to form a union. Courageous leadership by Kain Colter of Northwestern and CAPA founder Ramogi Huma led to this victory. Now everyone is crying in their beer because the discussion has focused on athletes being paid. But, CAPA is about all that unions do: giving voice to the workers. Too little attention is focused on issues of player safety and health in the media storm following the ruling.

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Working and Poor in America

The furor has not died down over Rep.Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) comments about inner city men and poverty in America.  Ryan has agreed to talk with the Congressional Black Caucus about the racial overtones of the comments.  Still, a troubling theme in America is the concept of the “deserving” poor.  The problem with Ryan’s statement and the current unwillingness to raise the minimum wage is a new sense among conservatives that there are no “deserving” poor.

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It’s Called Class Warfare

Everyone knows America has a hyper inequality problem. The six Walton family heirs who own Walmart have the same wealth as the bottom 42% of Americans.  In the latest data through 2011, researchers Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty show the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. get 20% of all the income.  Both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD—the organization of the advanced industrialized democratic countries) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognize that high levels of inequality hurt economic growth.  The question is: What do we do about the inequality?

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Solving Inequality

The job numbers came out for February this week. The preliminary numbers show that private-sector employment grew by 162,000, meaning it is very likely that in March, private-sector employment will top its previous peak of 115.9 million in January 2008. That is the good news. The bad news is we will still be down 666,000 jobs from the employment peak in January 2008. While private-sector jobs will recover in March, public-sector jobs will not.

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Inequality Is Now Mainstream

This week, in New York, the Ford Foundation hosted a conference with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on “Changing the Conversation on Growth: Going Inclusive.” Both are mainstream organizations, grounded in the elite consensus. So, their public engagement challenging the orthodoxy that inequality is the price we pay for economic growth is important.

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What Will Happen if the Minimum Wage Increases?

This week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report saying that the proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in 2016 would cost the creation of 500,000 jobs in 2016. While they did conclude that millions of families would be lifted out of poverty, they cautioned there would be real losers by adding people to the roles of the unemployed and underemployed.

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An Economics Lesson on the Deficit and Debt

This week, Republicans in the House caved and allowed a simple vote on raising the debt limit of the United States. Their hand-wringing about the debt is disingenuous, but more importantly, it is part of a campaign to confuse America's workers about the real deficit, which must be addressed urgently—the deficit in jobs, which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office cost the economy about $730 billion in lost production.

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Why Inequality Matters—or Why Joseph Stiglitz Hits It and Paul Krugman Misses

With the Super Bowl just ending, fantasy football fans will have to wait until next season to ponder the success of Russell Wilson. But it turns out there is a fantasy league for economists. So sorry to those of you with Paul Krugman on your team, because I am siding with Joseph Stiglitz in the argument on why income inequality is slowing the recovery.

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