TJ HedinResearch Fellow, Los Angeles

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TJ is a research fellow with California Policy Lab and PhD student in UCLA’s economics department. Before beginning his PhD, he worked as a Data Analyst with the Lab for two years. He originally joined CPL for the same reason he later chose to pursue a PhD in economics: he believes that rigorous, well-communicated academic research can lead to tangible improvements in public policy, and he strongly believes that even small improvements to public policy can have substantial impacts on people’s lives.

His research with CPL has mainly focused on the labor market and Unemployment Insurance system — two areas filled with room for policy improvements. During the pandemic, he co-authored a series of CPL reports analyzing the rapidly evolving state of the U.S. labor market by analyzing administrative data on UI claims in California.

Being so deeply involved with the UI system during a “once-in-a-lifetime” economic collapse, he saw in vivid detail the dramatic impact that both unemployment and social insurance programs could have on people’s well-being. As a result, his research interests primarily focus on understanding the various ways that social safety-net programs can affect other economic decisions and outcomes. His current work is focused on analyzing how UI benefits affect career trajectories.

Prior to CPL, TJ worked as a Research Programmer at USC, interned at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring new restaurants, making cocktails, and cheering on Manchester City Football Club.

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