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Economic Policy Institute

Economic Policy Institute
Formation 1986
Founder Jeff Faux, Lester Thurow, Ray Marshall, Barry Bluestone, Robert Reich, Robert Kuttner
Type Public policy think tank
Lawrence Mishel
$6,573,520 (2010)[1]
Slogan Research and ideas for shared prosperity

The Economic Policy Institute is a 501(c)(4) organization.

EPI advocates for low- to moderate-income families in the United States.[4] EPI also assesses current economic policies and proposes new policies that EPI believes will protect and improve the living standards of working families.[2]


  • History 1
  • Areas of research 2
  • EPI projects 3
    • The State of Working America 3.1
    • Economic Analysis and Research Network 3.2
    • Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy 3.3
    • Broader, Bolder Approach to Education 3.4
  • Policy proposals 4
  • Funding 5
  • References 6


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.

Areas of research

EPI’s work and activities cover twelve main 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.[5]

EPI projects

The State of Working America

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.[6] EPI launched in 2011, putting the publication online for the first time.

Economic Analysis and Research Network

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.[7]

Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy

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.[8]

Broader, Bolder Approach to Education

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.[9]

Policy proposals

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.[10]

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."[11]


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.[12] 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.[13]


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