Michael Reich (born October 18, 1945) is a Polish-born economist who primarily focuses on labor economics and political economy. Currently, Reich is a professor of economics and director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1968, he helped found the Union for Radical Political Economics. 
Early life and education
Michael Reich was born in Trzbina, Poland, to Polish-Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust. In 1949, his family moved to the United States where Reich attended public schools in New York City, Swarthmore College for his undergraduate degree in 1966, and Harvard University to earn a PhD in economics.
Reich notes that he was a "child of the Sputnik age", thus he initially attended college with ambitions to become a physicist, focusing primarily in the fields of science and mathematics. However, his college years changed him as he became heavily involved in activist movements, including protests against the United States’ military role in the Vietnam War. It was during this time that Reich subscribed to the New Left movement.
Union for Radical Political Economics
In 1968, while in graduate school, Reich was a founding member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE). In doing so, as Reich describes in a biographical compilation piece (A Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists), he helped "to organize an influential circle of radical economists." URPE’s agenda, as described by a spokesperson for the group, is to:
URPE is highly critical of capitalism, and seeks to offer alternatives to the traditional capitalist system, largely pointing to a form of socialism. Reich describes that the group’s "radical economic perspective" was molded through the convergence of various movements, including antiwar, civil rights, and student power. Reich was a member of the editorial boards of URPE’s Review of Radical Political Economics and the Socialist Review.
In 1972, the members of URPE formally assembled their ideas and published a widely cited textbook on radical economics, The Capitalist System. As the central thesis of the textbook’s first edition, the group:
Reich contributed at least four articles to The Capitalist System, including a reprinting of "The Economics of Racism". Upon the book's release, the Journal of Economic Issues published a review of the book, summarizing it as "...a massive indictment of the contemporary American economic system. It is cast in Marxian terminology but stripped of some of Marx’s turgidity and excess verbiage."
In the 1960s and 1970s, Reich worked with David Gordon, Richard Edwards, and other well-known Marxist and Neo-Marxian economists. Focusing on labor economics, the group specifically narrowed in on segmented labor markets. In 1973, Reich, together with Edwards and Gordon, published A Theory of Labor Market Segmentation.
Reich was a teacher at Boston University for three years, and then in 1974 became an assistant professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1989, he was promoted to full professor. According to Reich, he regularly taught courses at Berkeley in Marxist economics, political economy, and the history of economic thought.
Reich serves as director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at UC Berkeley, and co-chairs IRLE’s Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED). He has also served as editor of the publication Industrial Relations, of Berkeley's Institute of Industrial Relations.
Reich has produced research for the progressive public policy advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress. In 2010, he produced a report for the organization investigating the economic proposals of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. An economist at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University responded to Reich's report.
On June 25, 2013, Reich testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions at a hearing discussing the 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage. Reich testified in favor of a minimum wage increase, defending his reports against other contradicting research.
- Reich, Michael (2000), Arestis, Philip; Sawyer, Malcolm, eds., Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists. (2nd ed.), Cheltenham, Glos, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp. 527–532
- Michael Saltsman (June 21, 2013). "Ignoring the obvious in the minimum wage debate". The Hill. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "General History of URPE". Union for Radical Political Economics. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Economic Theories That Vie For Dominance," U.S. News and World Report. 26 Apr 1982: 54.
- Reich, Michael (1974). The Economics of Racism.
- Kuhn, W. E. (March 1973). "Book Reviews". Journal of Economic Issues (Association for Evolutionary Economics) 7 (1): 172–175. JSTOR 4224215.
- Reich, Michael; Gordon, David; Edwards, Richard (May 1, 1973). Dual Labor Markets: A Theory of Labor Market Segmentation. University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Economics Departments Faculty Publications.
- Carla Marinucci (August 11, 2010). "Economists debate Whitman's economic proposals". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Juliet Williams (August 10, 2010). "Think tank: Whitman's proposals would hurt Calif.". U-T San Diego. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Full Committee Hearing - Building a Foundation of Fairness: 75 Years of the Federal Minimum Wage". U.S. Senate. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Value of increasing minimum wage debated at Senate hearing". Association of Corporate Counsel. Retrieved July 2, 2013.