SAN FRANCISCO, February 1, 2024—The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) today launched a new research center that will increase understanding of key economic trends and identify policy solutions that support a robust, resilient economy.
The PPIC Economic Policy Center is being established with generous funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. The center builds on the successful model of strategic research and engagement that defines all of PPIC’s work and represents a significant scaling up of effort focused on the California economy.
The creation of the center comes as the state’s economy faces a wide range of fundamental shifts with implications for workers, businesses, and communities. These include a shrinking workforce due in part to the state’s aging population, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies, major new public investments that aim to address climate change and improve infrastructure, and a continued prevalence of remote work that is reshaping where businesses and jobs are located.
The PPIC Economic Policy Center will strengthen the linkage between rigorous, objective, nonpartisan research and current policy debates with the goal of improving the economic prospects of workers, families, and businesses across the state. The center has three core areas of work:
- Tracking trends. Establishing a common set of facts and building a broad understanding of current trends and future possibilities.
- Evaluating policies. Analyzing the latest employment data and identifying policies that advance prosperity for both workers and businesses.
- Removing barriers. Investigating labor market barriers to economic advancement and identifying pragmatic policy solutions.
In conjunction with today’s launch, the center released a new report that examines the transformations facing workers and employers and identifies policy priorities for the state. Priorities for California’s Economy: Building Prosperity highlights key facts about the state’s labor market and broader economic environment and identifies pathways for leveraging California’s many strengths to address the economic challenges facing the state.
“The creation of the PPIC Economic Policy Center builds on the institute’s longstanding reputation for providing trusted, nonpartisan research on our state’s economy and the forces that shape it,” said Tani Cantil-Sakauye, PPIC president and CEO. “Generous support from the James Irvine Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation enables us to build greater understanding of important labor market trends and how public policy can help sustain economic growth and broaden opportunity.”
PPIC vice president and senior fellow Sarah Bohn is director of the center. Bohn, who holds the John and Louise Bryson Chair in Policy Research, has led PPIC’s research on economic policy since 2018 and served as the institute’s vice president of research from 2018 to 2023. She is an economist whose work has focused on the job market, workforce skills and development, and the role of education and government programs in promoting upward mobility and addressing inequality. Bohn holds a PhD in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
“California’s economy faces great uncertainty and a number of challenges, but our state has the potential to overcome these obstacles,” Bohn said. “The PPIC Economic Policy Center will provide timely, data-driven insights that inform how California can create a vibrant economy that benefits workers, businesses, and communities.”
Don Howard, president and CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, said the center’s focus on broadening opportunity is well aligned with the foundation’s priorities.
“A central challenge for our state is ensuring that all Californians, particularly those typically excluded from economic prosperity, have access to quality jobs and a voice in the decisions that affect their future,” Howard said. “We are proud to support the PPIC Economic Policy Center and are excited about its potential to create greater understanding of practical ways to build economic futures that work for all Californians.”
PPIC is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 and has offices in San Francisco and Sacramento. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.