past event
US Economy

Expanding Economic Opportunity for More Americans: Bipartisan Policies to Increase Work, Wages, and Skills

Despite a historically long recovery, the U.S. economy continues to face significant, long-term challenges. Many workers find themselves lacking the requisite skills and training to thrive in the modern economy. Most low- and middle-income workers have not seen meaningful increases in their wages, and many have fallen out of the workforce altogether. Geographic disparities in economic opportunity have become more pronounced: prosperity is increasingly concentrated in certain regions and cities, while other communities, particularly those in rural areas, have fallen further behind. Taken together, these challenges, though vexing and deep-rooted, are not insurmountable.

As the 116th congress begins, lawmakers have ample opportunities to come together to advance bipartisan solutions to these challenges. At this event, the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, co-chaired by Henry Paulson Jr. and Erskine Bowles, will highlight some of these opportunities by releasing a series of policy proposals that aim to expand economic opportunity for more Americans.

Live Stream


Bipartisan Policies to Expand Economic Opportunity for More Americans


9:15am – 9:30am

Welcoming Remarks

Henry Paulson, Co-chair, Aspen Economic Strategy Group; 74th Secretary of the United States Treasury
Erskine Bowles, Co-chair, Aspen Economic Strategy Group; president emeritus University of North Carolina

9:30am -10:25am

Tackling Barriers to Economic Opportunity: Housing Affordability, Wage Stagnation, and Rural Employment

America’s cities are its economic powerhouses. The 10 most productive cities account for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s GDP, despite containing only a quarter of the population. Yet, fewer workers are moving across state lines to areas of greater opportunity compared to previous decades, and workers in rural areas are lagging behind their urban counterparts. This panel features three policy proposals that address the causes and consequences of growing geographic disparities in economic opportunity, including zoning reforms to promote housing affordability in highly productive urban areas, business tax credits to offset the cost of minimum wage increases, and programs to promote employment in rural labor markets.

Joshua Gottlieb, Associate Professor of Economics, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia
David Neumark, Chancellor’s Professor of Economics, University of California, Irvine
James Ziliak, Gatton Endowed Chair in Microeconomics, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky

Kevin Hassett, Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisors
Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Melissa Kearney, Neil Moskowitz Professor of Economics, The University of Maryland; Director, Aspen Economic Strategy Group

10:35am – 11:30am

A Proposal for Supply-Side Investments in America’s Community Colleges

College graduates earn 65% more than non-college-educated workers and are twice as likely to be employed. Yet, only half of students who matriculate at four-year schools—and an even smaller share at two-year schools—earn their degree within six years. This panel discussion features a bipartisan proposal from Austan Goolsbee and Glenn Hubbard to invest in the upskilling of the American workforce and to promote college completion by better leveraging the potential of the community college sector.

Austan Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School

Penny Pritzker, Founder and Chairman, PSP Partners
Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago
Chris Liddell, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, The White House  

Greg Ip, Chief Economics Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal

11:35am – 12:30pm

The Role of State and Local Government in Expanding Economic Opportunity: A Discussion with Mitch Daniels and Rahm Emanuel

In this fireside chat, Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University and Former Governor of Indiana, and Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, explore the challenges and opportunities for state, local, and federal policymakers in the current policy and economic climate. They draw on their experiences and insights as policy leaders who have served in a multitude of roles.

Mitch Daniels, President, Purdue University
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago

Catherine Rampell, Opinion Columnist, The Washington Post

Event information
Mon Feb 4, 2019
9:00am - 12:30pm EDT
The Aspen Institute
2300 N Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC