(Bloomberg News) Austan Goolsbee, President Barack Obama's chief economist, is resigning from the administration and returning to the University of Chicago, the White House announced yesterday.
Goolsbee, 41, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers since September, has been on leave from his post as an economics professor at the university's Booth School of Business while working for Obama. He will be back in Chicago for the start of the school year, the White House said. No replacement was named.
In a statement, the president called Goolsbee "one of America's great economic thinkers."
Goolsbee is a longtime adviser to Obama, starting with his run for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2004 through the 2008 presidential campaign. Goolsbee was confirmed as a member of the CEA in March 2009 and was often the administration's spokesman on economic policy.
With the release of major economic news -- such as last week's Labor Department report showing that employers added fewer jobs than forecast for May and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent -- it is Goolsbee who has made the rounds of television news programs to frame the White House argument.
"We should never read too much into any one month's report," he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television a little more than an hour after the jobs report was released.
"He has been very visible from day one," even when he was deputy at the CEA, said Keith Hennessey, director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush.
With Goolsbee's departure, Obama is losing a key member of his economic team who has deep knowledge of the underpinnings of the president's policies, Hennessey said.
"That's a valuable thing to lose," he said. "That intellectual consistency, knowing what happened the last time the question came up a year ago or four years ago, is important."