Equitable Growth hosts State of the Union press briefing with leading U.S. economists


The Washington Center for Equitable Growth last week hosted an online press briefing in prelude to tonight’s State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress by President Joe Biden. The briefing—attended by journalists from leading news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Atlantic, The Economist, and CNN—took a deep dive into recent economic indicators and timely research, the Biden administration’s economic policy agenda, and what’s ahead for the U.S. economy amid current congressional debates over enacting a federal budget this month and in the run up to the presidential and congressional elections in November.

The webinar featured three leading U.S. economists: Alan Blinder, the Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a founding member of Equitable Growth’s Steering Committee; David Autor, the Ford Professor in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a new member of Equitable Growth’s Research Advisory Board; and Lenore Palladino, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The briefing was moderated by Michael Linden, a senior policy fellow at Equitable Growth and former executive associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Biden administration.

Linden set the stage for the audience and the three panelists with a brief run through of some telling economic data. He noted that in many respects, 2023 was a remarkable year for the U.S. economy, with overall real Gross Domestic Product up 3.1 percent over 2022 and with that strong growth powered by an extremely resilient and robust U.S. labor market, characterized by low unemployment, continued job creation, and solid real wage growth after accounting for inflation.

Linden said many observers were surprised by the good economic news in 2023 and now had many questions about the U.S. economy going forward. He pointed out that as the 2024 election approaches, there will be an extremely consequential national debate about the future of economic policies at both the executive and legislative levels. He then proceeded to drill down into some of those debates with Blinder, Autor, and Palladino. The four of them and audience participants discussed:

  • The sudden and surprising decline in wage inequality after the sharp but brief COVID-19 recession in 2020 and subsequent economic recovery over the past 3.5 years
  • The lessons policymakers can take from these years of economic progress, exemplified by the soft landing of the U.S. economy
  • The strong productivity growth in 2023 and why it is so important for the overall U.S. economy going forward
  • The Biden administration’s approach to industrial policy and why it is working for the U.S. economy and paying off for the broad majority of Americans
  • The importance of the care economy, including child care, early childhood education, long-term care, and paid family and medical leave, to strong and sustained economic growth
  • The new challenge of artificial intelligence to U.S. economic growth and stability, and whether AI can play a role in decreasing income inequality to ensure U.S. workers come out ahead

These and other topics were tackled in lively discussion and Q&A session, with the participants expressing their interest in contributing to further public engagement about inequality and U.S. economic growth and stability.

For more information, please contact Equitable Growth Communications Manager Katie Wilcoxson at kwilcoxson@equitablegrowth.org.


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