March 2, 2021

Economix Blog: Alan Krueger’s New White House Job

Alan B. Krueger, an economist at Princeton, has been chosen to be the next chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

He’s an interesting choice for this job. Usually that position is held by a macroeconomist, and the selection of Dr. Krueger, a microeconomist known for his work on labor issues, sends a strong signal that the administration may be devoting more energy to job creation.



Dollars to doughnuts.

Dr. Krueger has an eclectic set of interests, as indicated by not only his academic research but also the columns he wrote for Economix from 2008 to 2009. For example, he has written about rock concerts, happiness, health care, the value of a college education, and terrorism. While he was chief economist at the Treasury Department from 2009 to 2010, he worked on more macro issues related to areas like tax policy and public debt. But still, he is most closely associated with his work on the job market.

Dr. Krueger is also an empiricist: He looks at what is going on in the real world, then tries to make sense of it. (In recent years, you may recall, the economics profession has come under attack for being too theoretical and disconnected from reality.) Sometimes he uses data that is readily available, and sometimes he commissions or designs his own surveys, often working with Gallup.

Partly because he is data-driven and relatively nonideological, he has many fans in the economics community from both left and right — despite the fact that his flagship research is the cornerstone of any liberal campaign to raise the minimum wage. You can see this in reactions throughout the econoblogosphere, including plaudits from conservative economists like Greg Mankiw and Tyler Cowen.

Perhaps his data-driven approach and bipartisan appeal will make his Senate confirmation process an easier endeavor. He has also been through it before, after all, when he was nominated for his Treasury post. Given the administration’s record in getting other nominees through, though, this may still be a long slog.

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