White House Economic Adviser To Leave

Alan Krueger, the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, says he will step down to return to Princeton to resume his post as a professor of economics. Krueger, who has served as CEA chairman for the past two years, will return to Princeton in time for the beginning of the fall term.

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One of President Obama's top economic advisers is leaving the White House later this year, to return to his teaching job at Princeton. Since 2011, Alan Krueger has chaired the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

NPR's Scott Horsley takes this look back at his time in the White House.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: One of Alan Krueger's tasks at the White House is deciphering the many different signals the economy sends, including the closely watched jobs report that typically comes out on the first Friday of the month.

That report has shown slow but steady improvement on Krueger's watch. When he was nominated in the summer of 2011, unemployment stood at 9 percent. By the time he spoke to NPR earlier this month, the rate had dipped to 7.5 percent.

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ALAN KRUEGER: We're seeing the gradual improvement in the job market, but we want to do more. We want to speed the recovery because we lost so many jobs during the recession and frankly, because the economy wasn't doing that well even before the recession.

HORSLEY: The stagnation of middle-class jobs and wages through the last decade has been a focus for Krueger in his academic work. At the White House, he's been a staunch advocate of the president's proposals to boost jobs - almost none of which have passed in Congress. He's also defended the president's call to raise the minimum wage, based on his own research showing higher minimums don't necessarily result in fewer jobs.

In a speech last month at Oberlin College, Krueger argued that government policy in areas like the minimum wage and tax rates has contributed to a more skewed income distribution over the last three decades. Twenty percent of the nation's income now flows to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans - twice as much as in 1979.

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KRUEGER: Most Americans are concerned that the tremendous increase in inequality that we've seen is jeopardizing equality of opportunity. And that's unhealthy for our economy; it's unhealthy for our country.

HORSLEY: Krueger is likely to be replaced atop the council by Jason Furman. Furman's already a member of the president's economic policy team, and has been advising Obama since his first White House campaign.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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