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Blank Confirmed as Top Economic Advisor to Commerce Secretary


Tuesday, May 26, 2009



Blank Confirmed as Top Economic Advisor to Commerce Secretary

Rebecca Blank, Ph.D, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate May 21 as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs. As the Economic Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, and head of the Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA), Dr. Blank will also have management responsibility for the two top statistical agencies in the United States, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

“In Dr. Blank, we have the right person to handle a series of looming challenges,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “She will help the Census Bureau conduct an accurate and complete count in the 2010 Census, and I’m relying on her to provide sound economic data and analysis to guide the nation through the worst economic crisis in 60 years.”

ESA provides broad and targeted economic data analyses and forecasts for use by government agencies and businesses, and develops domestic and international economic policy. The remaining parts of the statistical family, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, produce the most widely recognized data sources on the American people and U.S. businesses.

“It is an honor to have been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve in this position,” Blank said.

Blank, a native of Missouri, is a summa cum laude graduate in Economics from the University of Minnesota, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. She was dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and co-director of the National Poverty Center. Dr. Blank served as a member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. She has also has taught economics at Northwestern University and Princeton and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Lifetime Associate at the National Academies of Science.

The Robert S. Kerr Fellow at the Brookings Institution since 2008, Dr Blank’s research has focused on the interactions between the macro-economy, government policy, and the behavior and well-being of American families. Her 1997 book, It takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty, won the Richard A. Lester Prize for Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations. Congressman John Dingell said in remarks submitted for Blank’s nomination, “Dr Blank understands the lamentably conspicuous rise in economic inequality and the concurrent growth of social inequality that have plagued our nation of late.” Blank addresses some of these issues in her most recent collaboration, Insufficient Funds: Savings, Assets Credit, and Banking Among Low-Income Families, (co-edited with Michael Barr, Russell Sage Press, 2009).

“I believe the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs to be one of the best agency jobs available,” said Blank at her recent confirmation hearing.

She oversees nearly 13,000 permanent employees in the combined bureaus, and will help direct the largest peace-time mobilization in history for the 2010 Census. Dr. Blank will lead a distinguished group of economists, statisticians, demographers and data gathers who share her enthusiasm for collecting and analyzing the best possible economic data for the nation.