September 25, 2015

Seminar features Federal Reserve economist

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A seminar next month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will look at the role education plays in accumulating wealth. 

Bill Emmons, assistant vice president and senior economic adviser with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Center for Household Financial Stability, will lead the discussion. The seminar is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive, Carbondale.  The event is free and lunch will be provided, but registration by Wednesday, Sept. 30, is required due to limited space. Registration information is available at 

Emmons is co-author of a three-part series of essays, “The Demographics of Wealth: How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today’s Economy.” The essays are the result of an analysis of data collected between 1989 and 2013 through the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, and include interviews with more than 40,000 heads of households. The essays examine how a family’s race or ethnicity, education and age are related to a family’s ability to thrive financially, according to the Federal Reserve. 

Emmons said, “Despite the obvious importance of education for individual advancement and economic growth, the relationship between education and wealth -- as well as the scope for policy intervention -- is more complex than it first appears.” 

A panel discussion will follow Emmons’ presentation. Panelists include Randolph Burnside, associate professor, political science, SIU Carbondale; Teresa Katubig, president and CEO, Extra Help, Inc., and Kathy Lively, CEO of Man-Tra-Con Corp. 

The university’s Office of Economic and Regional Development, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, along with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Community Development department and Center for Household Financial Stability, are event sponsors. Kyle E. Harfst, executive director of economic development at SIU Carbondale and of the Southern Illinois Research Park, said “this is a very important topic for business and individuals alike as we transition into a creative economy.” 

“This is an opportunity to hear from a respected Federal Reserve economist about the economic importance of education,” David Yepsen, institute director said. “Too many people are questioning the value; too many policy makers are shorting the funding of public education.  Those attitudes will not pay long-term dividends to our society.” 

Yepsen said that a growing economy in the future “requires growing education now.” 

“Many Americans at the lower end of the economic scale will only get their feet on the first rung of the ladder of success with a better education,” he said. “It’s an important message for students, parents, policy makers and community leaders who may be thinking of shorting education.”