President-Elect Biden taps Social Worker Jared Bernstein for Council of Economic Advisers

Jaren Bernstein, MSW, PhD

Jaren Bernstein, MSW, PhD

President-Elect Joe Biden has appointed social worker Jared Bernstein to his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). The CEA is a small group of experts who offer the president advice on economic matters.

Bernstein, PhD, MSW, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bernstein is a longtime economic adviser to Biden. He previously served as the executive director of the White House task force on the middle class and as an economic adviser to President Barack Obama.

The CEA will be led by Princeton economist Cecilia Rouse. Rouse will be the first woman of color to hold the position. Learn more in this CNN article.

Bernstein has said economists should work as social workers before crafting policies that make huge cuts to social safety programs. “Every economist ought to be a social worker for a few years and it’s that kind of lack of contact with the other that leads you to believe that the best way to help poor people is to give rich people really big tax cuts, and it will trickle down…,” Bernstein said during a 2013 appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Bernstein, who spoke at 2010 National Association of Social Workers Social Work Congress, also said social workers should be better compensated for the work they do.

“Society needs to express its appreciation for the valuable work social workers do through increased wages,” he said. “Demand for social work services is increasing, and salaries should reflect that.”

NASW has sent a letter to the Biden Harris transition team that outlines policies the association thinks the new administration should tackle.



  1. Good Luck and please don’y forget our Nation’s Disabled Citizens … they too spend and require services!! Blessings of the Holy Holidays!

  2. I am so pleased to have someone of your stature represent social work and economics, so often the business world sees those practices as opposing, rather than complimentary. I hope that you continue to be heard in your advocacy for social work, particularly in the area if “prevention.” It seems short sited, “not” to see the cost savings and “humanity” social work adds and has potential to add, especially in healthcare. I have grave concerns about hospitals replacing social workers with “case managers” who provide information about what “insurance” dictates, rather than “starting where the patient is” and asking questions about what he/she/they may seek as a plan or outcome. Thank you for all you do for those who provide and receive the benefits of social work/a social work education.

  3. After my MSW, I worked in human services for twelve years and then started working in for-profit corporate training businesses. After I’d been in my first business role for about a year, my boss’s boss said to me, “Well, I guess business might have something to learn from social workers.”

    I’ve taught and trained business people for the past 35 years, and each day I inject a bit of the human services sensibility and experience into the learning material.

  4. Congratulations and pray your voice be a strong advocate for social workers and the vulnerable.

  5. Great win for everyone,particularly the vulnerable,the social workers and social care in general.Congrats!

  6. Let’s celebrate this major accomplishment. With two social workers in the US Senate, and several in the House of Representatives (Bass, Lee, and Garcia!) should increase our profession’s visibility, influence, and power in two of the three branches of government. Change and progress is often slow, but let’ celebrate all victories, however slow or incremental they may seem at first. We—SWs—will make life better for millions in the US, and we will fight for social and economic justice in all branches and levels of government!

  7. Me. Bernstein, Congratulations on your placement in Bidens Cabinet. I am also a Social Worker graduated from Fordham University and currently employed with Project Renewal support and connection center , with homeless population in Spanish Harlem, NY. I have been in the field for 16 years and as an MSW since 2016. My struggle has been getting that “L” and attempting exam #5 (and at this point over $1000) in February. After graduating with a 3.8 it is difficult to understand how this one exam is holding me back from perusing my dreams and advancement in my career. Not sure if this is an aim of your but I thought you may be empathetic since you are in the same field and it seems your journey also took another direction to either avoid the L completely or just moved on. Either way , I am glad to have you on board for hopefully the next four years. Congratulations and good luck in the transition with Biden. Be Safe
    George Wasek

    • Bernstein is not a cabinet member. He’s a White House advisor that doesn’t require Senate confirmation as would a cabinet member. The man is giving Biden economic advise. I wouldn’t be jumping for joy that a man who has an undergraduate degree in music and a Master’s in social work is giving advice to Biden on the economy. He was Biden’s economic advisor when he was VP and that didn’t work out well for anyone. During the first years of the Obama administration unemployment jumped to 8.2%. Then Biden helped push through a $1.2B stimulus bill to stop unemployment from increasing. The unemployment level rose to 10.4%. 7M more people ended up on welfare. The jobs that were created were mostly part time positions. During that time he advised Biden that the TPP trade deal was good. It sent millions of jobs overseas to China. But yeah… there’s a social worker in the White House.

  8. Now all the NASW needs to do is FINALLY create a sliding scale for NASW membership fees so they “walk the talk” and make membership snd the benefits thereof available to all social workers!

  9. Oh my God!!!! FINALLY! A social worker’s voice on the Council of Economic Advisors!!! Years of working in the trenches as a social worker, seeing people making progress with resources to support them in becoming self sufficient, (usually under Democrats) only to have resources cut (usually under Republicans.) Will we ever have a society that understands that not everyone was born into support and opportunity, that there is no such thing as a level playing field, that the “Hand Up” is NOT a “Hand Out”—and the more of us that do well, the better ALL of us are!!!! THIS MAKES ME HAPPY. A baby step…but a step nonetheless…

    • Dr. Bernstein has been on the council , I know back to 2007. He was a speaker at a NASW event around that time. He and the lady who wrote the book about FDR’s cabinet member, Francis Perkle(?), who was over the labor board.
      Excellent speaker!

  10. It is enlightening to know that attention is being brought to the work that social workers do that often go unnoticed.

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