Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was formerly chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Barack Obama’s economics team.


Recent Articles

Unemployment, Low. Wage Growth, Meh.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File
The unemployment rate has been stuck at a low level of 4.1 percent for the last six months. The papers are replete with stories of labor shortages , of companies fighting over high-school students and hiring folks right out of prison . While pockets of labor-market weakness always exist somewhere, there’s little question that in broad terms, the U.S. job market is closing in on full employment. And yet, wage growth has been underwhelming. I’ll lay out the facts of that case in a moment—but how can that be? Don’t tight labor markets boost workers’ bargaining clout? Don’t employers have to bid up paychecks to keep their workers from just going around the corner to better jobs? Isn’t one of the key benefits of full employment that—as is not the case when labor markets are slack—employers must compete for workers? What’s blocking that crucial economic dynamic? Here’s what I think is going on. First, the job market isn...

Republicans Have Exposed Themselves

Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
trickle-downers.jpg The Republicans’ disdain for America has been laid bare by their tax plan. Progressives must take advantage of this moment. As you surely know, the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate are beyond terrible, and they just gets worse with each cover-of-night iteration. Simply put, they accomplish four goals, which I outline below. The evidence behind these assertions is overwhelming and has been made repeatedly, so rather than repeat it, I’ll provide links to the facts. But if facts were actually in play, we wouldn’t still be arguing about the offsetting growth effects of trickle-down economics, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be blithely asserting that the growth effects will more than pay for the revenues lost by this plan. To be clear, I haven’t given up for a second on fact-based argument. But it is axiomatic that it is not winning and unless we want to wander...

Real Tax Reform: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Trump’s proposed tax cuts, mostly on corporations and the wealthy, will do nothing to help the people who elected him president.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . On the night of President Trump’s upset victory, one of my first forlorn thoughts was “There goes health care.” So far, I’ve been wrong about that. My second thought, however, was “Rich people are going to get a big tax cut.” Given the dysfunction of the congressional majority and the rudderless, chaotic White House, that too may be proven wrong. Still, even more than destroying government-aided health care, cutting taxes is encoded in Republicans’ DNA. In fact, the conservative commentator Robert Novak famously said: “God put the Republican Party on earth to cut taxes. If they don’t do that, they have no useful function.” A very dejected Ross Douthat, conservative columnist for The New York Times , argued in a recent column titled “Just. Cut. Taxes.” that “a party that offers nothing, whose ideological sclerosis...

We're Going to Need More Tax Revenue. Here's How to Raise It.

More tax dollars will be essential to improve our infrastructure, push back on global warming, fight poverty and inequality, and improve health and retirement security. 

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
This article appears in our Spring 2016 issue. Subscribe here . Trickle-down is nonsense and “revenue neutrality” is insufficient. I recently testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means, the people who write tax law. The alleged topic of the hearing was how to generate faster economic growth, but what they really wanted to talk about was “tax reform.” As you might expect, those two words mean different things to different people. To many Republicans, tax reform means cutting taxes. Despite reams of evidence to the contrary, they’re still deeply enthralled by supply-side, trickle-down economics. So the Republicans had their witnesses testify about the growth-inducing impacts of tax cuts. One witness argued that anyone who didn’t get this was a “science denier.” I half expected the climate-change deniers on the panel to take umbrage at that accusation (“Hey, you’re talking to actual science deniers!”). Most of...

It’s Not a Skills Gap That’s Holding Wages Down: It's the Weak Economy, Among Other Things

Workers’ ability to handle technological advances doesn’t explain what’s happened to American wages.

(Photo by: Hendrik Schmidt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
The inadequate quantity and quality of American jobs is one of the most fundamental economic challenges we face. It’s not the only challenge: Poverty, inequality, and stagnant mobility loom large, as well. But in a nation like ours, where wages and salaries are key to the living standards of working-age households, all these challenges flow from the labor market problem. OK, but this is a supposed to be an article about technology. What’s the linkage between technology and this fundamental problem? As a D.C.-based economist who’s been working on the issue of jobs and earnings for almost 25 years, trust me when I tell you that most policy makers believe the following: “Yes, there’s a problem of job quantity and quality, but it’s largely a skills problem. Because of recent technological advances, most notably computerization, an increasing share of the workforce lacks the skills to meet the demands of today’s workplaces. What’s more, the...