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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.

Just Because the Engine is Running Doesn’t Mean It Has Gas

Last week, in good news for everyone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a monthly net payroll gain of 321,000 in November and revised the gains for September and October by an additional 44,000. This means over the last three months, job gains averaged a little more than 278,000. That is a number big enough to finally bring down the unemployment figures in a meaningful way. And, it means this is the strongest year of job growth since 1998.

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Why They Call It a Labor 'Market': What the President Got Wrong

With millions of people’s lives in limbo because of our dysfunctional and misaligned immigration system, President Barack Obama acted last month to reach a commonsense approach to resolving the deportations implied by law with practicality, while awaiting a final resolution from Congress—more than a year in waiting. Of course, the same House Republican leadership that shut down the government rather than do its job of passing a budget—and was in session less than one-third of the year—objected, claiming the president was trying to do its job.

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The Grass Isn’t Greener

The Grass Isn’t Greener

News last month showed that the Eurozone countries had a bad second quarter of economic growth. For the three-month period that ended in June, the Eurozone economies grew at 0.0%. Germany, the largest economy in that group, shrank by 0.2%, and Italy, the third largest, fell back into recession. While initially there was much celebration that Germany’s work-sharing schemes prevented the massive job losses experienced in the United States, Germany’s tepid fiscal response, and weak accommodation by the European Central Bank to the global downturn of 2008, have meant Europe continues to flounder. This should be a real lesson that austerity is not a better proscription than the policies pursued in the United States.

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Something Old, Something New

This past week, The Wall Street Journal published an interview with former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. He was asked to comment on an address that current Fed Chair Janet Yellen delivered at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in early July. In that address, Yellen laid out her strategy to address asset bubbles primarily through using regulation and counter-cyclical capital requirements of financial institutions placed at risk by the bubbles. Her speech was a sage response to what we have learned from the bubbles of the last 25 years.

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We Need to Fight for Equality

We Need to Fight for Equality

Last week, I had the great honor to receive the Benjamin L. Hooks “Keeper of the Flame” Award from the Labor Committee of the NAACP’s Board of Directors.  Both the new president, Cornell Brooks, and Lorraine Miller, who served as interim president before him, were present. I felt humbled by the honor.

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Trying to Understand What Makes Sense

Two boys at the Detroit Water Rally held July 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of National Nurses United.

Last month, a United Nations panel held that cutting off water to Detroit residents suffering from high unemployment rates and low incomes, leaving them unable to afford their water bills, was a violation of basic human rights. This past weekend, actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) joined close to a thousand protesters in a march organized by National Nurses United from Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. The chants of the crowd included “We got sold out, banks got bailed out." And there were renewed calls for a financial transaction tax, commonly referred to as a “Robin Hood tax.”

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Memory is how individuals and societies recall past events. History, in contrast, seeks to collect the actual data of events. In society, memory is important because it forms the narrative on which we build basic concepts that drive policy. 

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Leadership Makes a Difference

This week the job numbers were far better than anticipated. Those convinced this means inflationary pressures are about to build up will start shouting at any price movement to bolster their debate or use the robust stock market uptick to argue another bubble is forming. They will argue the Federal Reserve needs to reverse its current policy of aiding the recovery.

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Missing the Point

Currently, the debate on American colleges and universities is dominated by the cost of tuition. This debate misses the point.

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June Jobs Report: This Silver Lining Has a Cloud

Every indication is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for the June labor market will show large gains in the private sector. We have already surpassed the previous highs of non-farm employment and private-sector employment set in 2008. But this silver lining has a cloud. We remain lagging in public-sector employment. Most importantly, local education employment is still below its June 2009 level. Though it fluctuates slightly month to month, it remains near where it was in 2012, about 320,000 below its peak. While other local government jobs appear to have recovered, local public education has not. State government employment also remains lower than its January 2009 high, languishing about 140,000 below its peak.

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