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Headshot photo of William Edward Spriggs

William Edward Spriggs


  • Economics
  • College of Arts & Sciences


William Spriggs is a professor in, and former Chair of, the Department of Economics at Howard University and serves as Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO.  In his role with the AFL-CIO he chairs the Economic Policy Working Group for the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and serves on the board of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  He is currently on the Advisory Board to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, and on the editorial boards for Public Administration Review and the Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research (of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation).  He previously served on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration’s Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States.

He was the 2016 recipient of the National Academy of Social Insurance’s Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance and the 2014 NAACP Benjamin L. Hooks’ Keeper of the Flame Award.

From 2009 to 2012, Bill served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy at the United States Department of Labor, having been appointed by President Barack Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  At the time of his appointment, he also served as chairman of the Healthcare Trust for UAW Retirees of the Ford Motor Company and as chairman of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust, vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute; and on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration’s Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States; and, as Senior Fellow of the Community Service Society of New York; and served on the boards of the National Employment Law Project and very briefly for the Eastern Economic Association.  He just completed service with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine  Committee on Closing the Equity Gap: Securing Our STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation’s Minority Serving Institutions that produced the report: Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening America’s STEM Workforce (2019).

Bill’s previous work experience includes roles leading economic policy development and research as a Senior Fellow and Economist at the Economic Policy Institute; as Executive Director for the Institute for Opportunity and Equality of the National Urban League; as a Senior Advisor for the Office of Government Contracting and Minority Business Development for the U.S. Small Business Administration; as a Senior Advisor and Economist for the Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce; as an Economist for the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress; and, as staff director for the independent, federal National Commission for Employment Policy.  He is a former president of the National Economics Association, the organization of America’s professional Black economists.

He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts, and holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He also taught six years at Norfolk State University and for two years at North Carolina A & T State University.

He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the National Academy of Public Administration.

Education & Expertise


Economics and Political Science

Williams College


University of Wisconsin-Madison



Principles of Economics 1, Graduate Labor Economics II and Graduate Labor Economics III