Jennifer Hunt, an economics professor at Rutgers, has been appointed to a senior-level advisor position with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Hunt is serving as Chief Economist to Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Seth Harris.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to use insights from my research to improve the lives of American workers in a tangible way,” Hunt saied recently.
She has taken a leave of absence from Rutgers.
A professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, Hunt is a scholar whose research has examined many labor-related topics, including wage and employment issues, as well as the impact of immigration on the labor market.
In her new role, Hunt provides information and expert advice to the labor secretary and other high-level officials as they develop and craft U.S. labor policy for the Obama administration.
Her day-to-day responsibilities include briefing officials on the latest statistics and trends as well as contributing to the debate on policy issues ranging from the minimum wage, to new labor regulations, to the Social Security Trust Fund. She also works with economists at the White House on issues of mutual interest.
One pressing issue the department works on is wage inequality.
“The department is providing analysis to support the increase in the minimum wage proposed by the President,” Hunt said in an interview. “The department also has a large budget for training programs to improve the skills of low-wage workers and the unemployed.”
Hunt is among a number of Rutgers economists, including many women, whose expertise has made them valuable policy advisors at all levels of government. Indeed, Rutgers economists have guided public officials on such issues as taxation, environment, healthcare, and criminal justice.
“Many of the economists in our department are heavily involved in policy work,” said Rosanne Altshuler, chair of the Economics Department. “The research they do addresses many of the pressing public policy issues of our time, and as a result, it has real value to government at the local, state and federal levels.”
Hunt’s research topics have included employment and unemployment policy, immigration and wage inequality. Her current research focuses on immigration and innovation in the United States, the U.S. science and engineering workforce, and the 2008-2009 recession in Germany.
She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard and her Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She has held positions at McGill University, the University of Montreal and Yale University. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and is on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Research Institute of the German Federal Employment Agency in Nuremburg.