At a Glance
- Career History: Howard University Economics Department chair (2005-2009); Economic Policy Institute senior fellow (2004-2005); Executive Director of the National Urban League's Institute for Opportunity and Equality (1998-2004)
- Hometown: Washington, D.C.
- Alma Mater: Williams College, B.A., 1977; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D., 1984
- DC Office: 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Suite S-2312, Washington, D.C. 20210, (202) 693-5959
- Web site
Path to Power
A native of Washington, D.C., Spriggs grew up attending the public-school system there, but left the area for higher education; he graduated cum laude from Williams College in 1977, and earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984.
After working as a business school professor at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and Norfolk State University in Virginia, Spriggs returned to the District in the summer of 1990 to take a position as an economist at the Economic Policy Institute where he did research on the minimum wage and international labor standards.
Throughout his academic and policy careers, Spriggs has supported labor interests and classic liberal policies when it comes to the economy. He has long been a champion of organized labor, and much of his research and policy have focus on labor issues such as the minimum wage, workplace discrimination and international labor standards.
Spriggs supports a bigger government that spends money on education, health care and other social-welfare programs. He also favors a more progressive tax structure, and repeatedly criticized the Bush tax cuts for people earning over $250,000 annually, because such cuts "rob our Treasury of, literally over the course of 40 years, trillions of dollars and makes it difficult to make the investments that our nation needs to make in healthcare and infrastructure."
In part because of his extensive history of scholarship on issues such as hiring discrimination and pay equity, Spriggs has become an important voice in the African-American community.
When Obama nominated him for the Labor Department, he was on the board of economists for Black Enterprise Magazine, and served as vice vhair of the Board of the Political Education and Leadership Institute of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is currently led by Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Spriggs also once served as president of the National Economic Association, a professional organization of black economists.