The Economic Policy Institute’s mission is to inform and empower individuals to seek solutions that ensure broadly shared prosperity and opportunity.
About EPI. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions. EPI believes every working person deserves a good job with fair pay, affordable health care, and retirement security. To achieve this goal, EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America. EPI proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers and assesses policies with respect to how they affect those workers.
A bit of history. EPI was the first—and remains the premier—think tank to focus on the economic condition of low- and middle-income Americans and their families. Its encyclopedic State of Working America, published 12 times since 1988, and now for the first time in complete electronic form as well, is stocked in university libraries around the world. In the 1990s EPI researchers were the first to illustrate the decoupling of productivity and pay in the U.S. economy, a trend now widely recognized as a key element of growing economic inequality. EPI changed the nature of public debates over international trade agreements by underscoring their effects on workers and the importance of putting enforceable labor standards in trade agreements. EPI has focused, and continues to focus unrelentingly and unfailingly, on the dynamics of wage stagnation for most workers and rising inequality and on what can be done to halt and reverse these trends.
EPI’s research is cutting-edge, original, and reliable, and it spans a broad range of economic issues. EPI analyses are a trusted resource for policymakers, those in the media, national progressive advocacy organizations, and state research organizations. EPI conducts original research according to rigorous standards of objectivity and, as a result, is a reliable source of information and analysis. In-house researchers maintain their standing in the academic community by publishing findings in prestigious peer-reviewed academic journals and by delivering public lectures, speeches, and testimony. Our methods for ensuring our research methodologies are exemplary and include the use of highly qualified researchers and reviews by outside experts from across the ideological spectrum.
EPI has world-class expertise. Our team includes the best minds in economics and other disciplines. Our broad network of researchers and scholars has made EPI the authoritative source on the economic well-being of working Americans. EPI’s staff includes nine Ph.D.-level economists and a number of other experts with advanced degrees in sociology, public policy, and law. Our staff also includes ten policy analysts and research assistants, and a full communications and outreach staff.
EPI provides visionary solutions and leadership. EPI shapes public policy on the federal and state level through compelling research and innovative ideas. We are recognized as national leaders on breakthrough liberal economic policies. EPI research associate and Yale university professor Jacob Hacker developed the concept of the public option—the idea that the government would provide health insurance and compete with private insurers to assure robust competition. EPI’s analysis has also shaped the way the economy is viewed. For instance, EPI researchers were the first ones to profile the emerging gap between growing productivity and the wages and compensation of typical workers. An EPI economist was the first to compute the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings—the job-seekers-to-job-openings ratio—a commonsense way to help the public understand the difficulty of finding a job. EPI has long profiled the stagnation of workers’ wages, the deterioration of job quality, and rising inequalities. EPI also oversaw the formation of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) of state and regional multi-issue research, policy, and advocacy organizations. Finally, EPI is beholden to no one: we say what we think is true regardless of who might not want to hear it. We believe that is what it means to be a leader.
Our issues. EPI’s work spans a range of economic policy issues, including education; federal budget, deficits and taxes; health; immigration; jobs, wages, and living standards; labor policy; macroeconomic performance; public investment; race, ethnicity, and the economy; regulation; retirement; and trade and globalization. We approach all of our policy issues by documenting the experiences of low- and moderate-income workers and families and asking how public policy can and will impact jobs, economic growth, and the well-being of all Americans.
How we do it. EPI produces numerous research papers and policy analyses; sponsors conferences and seminars; briefs policymakers at all levels of government; provides technical support to national, state, and local constituency and advocacy organizations; testifies before national, state, and local legislatures; and provides information and background to the media. In a typical year, EPI is cited in the media more than 20,000 times and is mentioned and/or our staff are seen or heard by over 300 million people on television and radio.
Who supports us. EPI is a 501(c)(3) corporation. From 2013 through 2016, the largest portion of our funding was in the form of foundation grants, while another large portion came from labor unions. EPI also receives support from individuals, corporations, and other organizations. See the figure below. A current list of EPI donors and a statement of our funding and disclosure principles is available here.
Sources of EPI funding
|Source||Share of funding|
Based on figures from 2013–2016 data.
- Helping Working People Economic policy should focus on improving conditions for working people.
- Truth and Accuracy Matter EPI research should be honest and rigorous.
- Dignified, Remunerative Work People must be provided with the capacity and opportunity for dignified, remunerative work for personal as well as societal benefit.
- Strong, Effective Labor Movement A strong, effective labor movement is essential for democracy and to ensure an equitable sharing of income and wealth.
- Government for the People Government should set standards and rules for markets, and should ensure the efficient provision of public goods and investments.