Wolfers testifies before Senate Finance Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth

January 22, 2015


Justin Wolfers testified before the Senate Finance Committee today in a hearing on jobs and the economy. Wolfers spoke to the country’s economic recovery, long-term unemployment, and the need for increased investment in education (video here).

He cautioned that while the economy is improving, it is not yet doing well. As evidence, he cited the U.S.’s overall output level (currently below its long-run potential, he says), as well as long-term unemployment.

While the unemployment rate (currently at 5.6 percent) has improved faster than most economists had envisioned, Wolfers points out that there’s more work to be done--particularly in the area of addressing long-term unemployment. These days we measure unemployment in months and sometimes years, said Wolfers; but that’s a new development.

Today’s hearing was the first held by the committee in the 114th Congress, as well as the first presided over by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee’s new chairman.

In his opening statement, Hatch outlined his hope that the committee would focus efforts on fixing the U.S. tax system, something he has made his “highest legislative priority for this Congress.”

During his testimony, Wolfers spoke to the role the tax system could play in stemming rising inequality in the U.S. (download the transcript).

Others who provided testimony were Robert Hall, a Stanford University economist, and John M. Engler, president of Business Roundtable. Engler is the former governor of Michigan.

Justin Wolfers is a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.