Goolsbee to leave White House, return to University of Chicago

June 7, 2011

City Room and AP Wires

(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

Austan Goolsbee, a longtime advisor to President Barack Obama, will resign his post as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors this summer to return to teaching at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the White House announced Tuesday. 

Goolsbee has been the face of the White House on economic news, and is a regular every first Friday of the month explaining the administration's take on the latest jobless numbers.

Those numbers hit a disappointing eight month low in May, when the Labor Department reported only 54-thousand jobs were created during the month.  The also unemployment rate inched up to 9.1 percent.

The job market plus slower overall growth, falling home prices and rising oil prices have increased worries that the economy may be headed for a double-dip recession. 

“Since I first ran for the U.S. Senate, Austan has been a close friend and one of my most trusted advisers,” said President Barack Obama in a written statement announcing the departure.  “Over the past several years, he has helped steer our country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs."

Obama also called Goolsbee one of "America's great economic thinkers."

Goolsbee has served on the three-member economic council since the start of the administration. He took over last September as council chairman, replacing Christina Romer, who left to return to a teaching position at the University of California, Berkley.

Goolsbee advised Obama during his 2004 Senate race and was senior economic policy adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign.  He's been on leave from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, where he taught for fourteen years, including courses on microeconomics, public policy, and the new economy. 

"I am a data hound and so I usually end up working on whatever things I can find good data on," said Goolsbee in his official biography as the university's Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics. "The rise of Internet commerce completely altered the amount of information you could gather on company behavior so I naturally drifted toward it."

Business Week magazine twice listed him as an "outstanding faculty member" in its biennial guide to the best business schools.

The White House says Goolsbee's departure is timed so that he'll be able to rejoin the faculty before classes resume this Fall.