Betsey Stevenson Appointed Chief Economist for the U.S. Labor Dept.

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Betsey Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Business and Public Policy, has taken on a challenging new role: Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Stevenson, whose year-long leave of absence from Wharton began in September 2010, has made a name for herself as an expert on happiness issues. So how did she end up at the Labor Department during one of the unhappiest of economic times? Stevenson sees the progression as natural. Economists, like the U. S. government, are interested in the well-being of citizens. And now she’s in a position to influence it.

As Chief Economist, Stevenson, who previously served as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, will inform policies on unemployment insurance, job creation, job training and readiness, the minimum wage, and retirement security. Those are tough tasks as the unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent. .

It’s a long way from the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times website, where Stevenson has been a contributor, or from the research on marriage and divorce that inspired Jezebel, a blog devoted to “celebrity, sex, fashion,” to call her the hippest economist ever. But the center of the storm is where Stevenson wants to be.

Find out more about her new appointment in the forthcoming Winter Issue of the Wharton Magazine.

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