CSSW connection: Jared Bernstein earned his PhD in social welfare from CSSW in 1994, with Professor Irv Garfinkel as his supervisor. He served as the School’s commencement speaker in 2017.
Path to political involvement: Since leaving Columbia, Jared Bernstein has played various policy advisory roles in Washington, in recognition of his expertise in federal and state economic and fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, trends in employment and earnings, international comparisons, and the analysis of financial and housing markets. Currently a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research institute that aims to reduce poverty and inequality, he was recently tapped to serve on the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) by President-elect Joe Biden. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he would work for Cecilia (Cici) Rouse, former Dean of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton, whom Biden has nominated to chair the Council. If confirmed, Rouse would be the first Black and just the fourth woman to lead the CEA in the 74 years of its existence.
Bernstein served as chief economic adviser to Vice President Biden from 2009 to 2011, under the Obama administration. Prior to joining that administration, he was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that proposes policies to protect and improve the living standards of working families; he also held the post of Deputy Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.
The author of numerous books and publications, Bernstein frequently strives to communicate his ideas on economic policy to broader audiences. He has published extensively in mainstream media and maintains his own blog, On the Economy.
From Bernstein’s keynote address at 2017 commencement:
I’ve sat in the Oval Office in the White House and argued against those who explained why we couldn’t do the right thing because it thwarted the free hand of the market, even though we all know that sometimes the free hand is all thumbs. I lost way more than I won, but I’m still proud to have taken those stands. If anything, I should have done so way sooner in my life, which is why I’m giving you the power to do so from here on in.
There’re just so many deep problems in our society of precisely the type that policy-oriented social workers can help to solve, so bring me the troops!