Dr. Alex Ruder on Benefits Cliffs


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When the Federal pandemic-related UI programs ended on September 6th, 2021, many Americans became aware of what low-income, government program-dependent Americans have long been aware of – a benefits cliff. This cliff occurs when public benefits taper off or phase out quickly, forcing beneficiaries to choose between earning more or maintaining what is often a vital subsidy. It is a classic Catch-22. These cliffs impact both short-term work incentives and long-term opportunities for growth in wages.

On this episode of “Hardly Working”, am joined by Dr. Alex Ruder, the principal advisor of Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Community and Economic Development team. We discuss Dr. Ruder’s vocational journey in workforce development policy, the Career Ladder Identifier and Financial Forecasting (CLIFF) tool that he helped develop, and the future of federal benefits and benefits cliffs post-pandemic.

Mentioned During the Episode:

AEI’s upcoming event on UI Reform

St. Louis Federal Reserve Publication on 1918 Influenza

Brent Orrell on how “Learning to Code” Isn’t Enough

Alex Ruder on Understanding and Overcoming Benefits Cliffs

Alex Ruder on Benefit Plateaus

Childcare Benefits Cliff Florida Case Study

Effective Marginal Tax Rate Series on Effective Tax Rates

Alex Ruder on Benefits Cliffs and Career Pathways

Entry-Level Healthcare Workforce Report

Programs on Smoothing Out Benefits Cliff Effects

Economic Self-Sufficiency Measures as a State Goal

MIT’s Living Wage Measure

UW’s Self-Sufficiency Standard Measurement

St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Cost of Living Index

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Programs

World Economic Outlook (WEO) Metrics

The Atlanta Fed on the Affordability of Childcare

Mason Bishop on Utah Dept. of Workforce Services

Brent Orrell on Unemployed Worker Incentives Survey

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