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Why Obama picked Alan Krueger as next top White House economist

In a Rose Garden briefing, President Obama named Princeton University economist Alan Krueger as the next head of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

President Obama announces that labor economist Alan Krueger (l.) will replace Austan Goolsbee (not shown) as the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Aug. 29.

Larry Downing/Reuters

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President Obama has chosen Princeton University economist Alan Krueger as the next head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Mr. Obama announced the appointment Monday in a Rose Garden appearance.

“Our great ongoing challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing faster ... Alan brings a wealth of experience to the job,” said the president.

Of course, there are many Democratic economists with credentials that would enable them to serve as the top White House economist. So why pick Dr. Krueger in particular?

For one thing, he’s well acquainted with many current administration officials. Krueger served as a Treasury Department economist until last fall, when he returned to Princeton.

But the bigger reason may be that Krueger is one of the nation’s top labor economists. He served as the Labor Department’s chief economist during the Clinton administration.

His academic work includes an investigation into whether raising the minimum wage depresses job growth (his conclusion: it doesn’t) and an analysis of why job growth wasn’t stronger in the early years of this century.

Jobs, and why the US does not have more of them, will be a central theme of the coming presidential campaign. The nation’s unemployment rate remains over 9 percent, and given the current rate of weak economic growth, it will be years until it drops to a level considered full employment by economists.

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