Obama Names New White House Chief Economist

President Obama announced Monday that he had selected Princeton labor economist Alan Krueger to become the White House’s new top economist, and that he will be offering a plan to spur job growth next week. Krueger, an expert on unemployment, will succeed Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden with Krueger at his side, Obama said he would rely on the economist’s “unvarnished recommendations” on how to create jobs and reduce the 9.1% unemployment rate. Obama’s plan, which he will outline next week, is supposed to issue a two-pronged attack, giving Americans more money to spend while also getting construction crews working.

“Next week I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and railways and airports,” said Obama. While such measures as increasing spending on infrastructure and extending a payroll tax cut have long been considered the likely next steps in the administration’s war on unemployment, Republican approval of such plans seems unlikely.

Krueger has served in the Obama Administration before as assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist in the Treasury Department. He also served as chief economist for the Department of Labor under Bill Clinton between August 1994 and August 1995. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, and earned his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard. He has written extensively on unemployment as a professor at Princeton and as a regular contributor to the Economic Scene column in The New York Times.