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Economic Policy Institute

The Economic Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit American think tank based in Washington, D.C. that carries out economic research and analyzes the economic impact of policies and proposals. The EPI describes itself as a non-partisan think tank that "seeks to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions".[2] It is affiliated with the labor movement,[3][4][5] and is usually described as presenting a liberal[6] viewpoint on public policy issues. The EPI has a sister organization, the EPI Policy Center, which is a 501(c)(4) organization for advocacy and education. The EPI advocates for policies they say are favorable for low- to moderate-income families in the United States.[7] The EPI also assesses current economic policies and proposes new policies that EPI believes will protect and improve the living standards of working families.[2]

Economic Policy Institute
Logo Economic Policy Institute.svg
Formation1986; 33 years ago (1986)
FounderJeff Faux, Lester Thurow, Ray Marshall, Barry Bluestone, Robert Reich, Robert Kuttner
TypePublic policy think tank
Coordinates38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047Coordinates: 38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047
Thea Lee
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$5,854,099[1]


EPI was founded in 1986 by economists Jeff Faux, Lester Thurow, Ray Marshall, Barry Bluestone, Robert Reich, and Robert Kuttner.[2] EPI's president is Lawrence Mishel. On Sept. 26, 2017, EPI announced Thea Lee will succeed Mishel as president in January 2018.

Areas of researchEdit

EPI’s work and activities cover twelve issue areas: education; federal budget, deficits, and taxes; health; jobs, wages, and living standards; immigration; labor policy; macroeconomic performance; public investment; race and ethnicity; regulation; retirement; trade and globalization.[8]

EPI projectsEdit

The State of Working AmericaEdit

Testimonies for State of working America, 2012

The State of Working America is EPI’s flagship publication and has been published regularly since 1988. The book examines the U.S. economy’s impact on the living standards of working families by analyzing data on family incomes, wages, jobs, unemployment, wealth, and poverty.[9] EPI launched in 2011, putting the publication online for the first time.

Economic Analysis and Research NetworkEdit

EPI coordinates the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a nationwide network of state and regional multi-issue advocacy, policy, and research organizations that operate on a local level. EARN includes 57 organizations in 43 states.[10]

Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the EconomyEdit

EPI launched the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) in 2008 to address economic inequalities and challenges faced by racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. PREE’s goal is to advance policies that help working people of color participate fully in and gain equitably from the American economy.[11]

Broader, Bolder Approach to EducationEdit

EPI launched the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (BBA) in 2008. BBA is a national campaign that acknowledges the impact of social and economic disadvantages on both schools and students and proposes evidence-based policies to remedy conditions that limit many children’s readiness to learn.[12]

Policy proposalsEdit

In July 2012, EPI and the AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Council of La Raza and SEIU proposed a budget plan titled Prosperity Economics, a counter to the Republican Party's Path to Prosperity budget plan. The Prosperity Economics plan suggests that major public investment in areas like infrastructure is needed to jump-start the economy.[13]

In response to the debate over the United States fiscal cliff, EPI economist Josh Bivens advocated taxing the rich, writing "Given this rise in [income] inequality, it makes sense that much of the future burden of reducing budget deficits should be borne by those who have benefited the most from economic trends in recent decades."[14]


Eight labor unions made a five-year funding pledge to EPI at its inception: AFSCME, United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers, United Mine Workers, International Association of Machinists, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union.[15] According to EPI, about 29% of its funding between 2005 and 2009 was supplied by labor unions and about 53% came from foundation grants.[2]

In the 1980s, EPI took money from the Tobacco Institute—a now-defunct tobacco industry trade group—to oppose excise taxes on the tobacco industry's behalf. The Tobacco Institute worked with groups like EPI "to support the release of studies, editorials, press briefings, and testimony against regressive excise taxes" that would negatively impact the tobacco industry's bottom line if passed.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Economic Policy Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "About". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  3. ^ Eckes, Alfred E. U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  4. ^ Sauvant, Karl P. Investing in the United States: Is the US Ready for FDI from China?. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 90.
  5. ^ Sinclair, Barbara. Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of National Policy Making. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 331.
  6. ^ Isidore, Chris (2011-08-02). "Debt ceiling deal won't restart hiring". CNN Money. Retrieved 2011-08-04. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, estimates that the spending cuts will cost the economy 323,000 jobs in 2012.
  7. ^ "Study: Income inequality continues to grow in La". CBS. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Areas of research". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  9. ^ "State of Working America". EPI Bookstore. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  10. ^ "About the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)". Economic Analysis and Research Network. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Race and Ethnicity". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  12. ^ "Broader Bolder Approach to Education". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  13. ^ Izadi, Elahe (2012-07-31). "Liberal Groups Counter GOP's Economic Agenda With New Plan". National Journal. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  14. ^ Milani, Kate (2012-11-20). "Economists React: The Fiscal Cliff 'Can't Be Fully Avoided'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  15. ^ Taylor, Paul (19 February 1987). "Analyzing Alternatives In Labor's Think Tank;Liberal Economists Study Government's Role". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  16. ^ Balbach, Edith D.; Campbell, Richard B. (Aug 2009). "Union Women, the Tobacco Industry, and Excise Taxes". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37 (2): S121-S125. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.05.011. PMC 2712937. PMID 19591750.