Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade
We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index's weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate consumer response to fast-moving events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in weekly data series capturing credit and debit card transactions, mobility, gasoline sales, and consumer sentiment. To ensure that the index is representative of aggregate retail spending, we implement a novel ...
Assessing the jobless recovery
This article reviews trends in employment growth during the recent recovery, including new evidence that much of the increase in self-employment since the beginning of the recession is likely a reflection of the weak labor market conditions of the last three years. The authors also offer thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of several explanations for the disappointing employment growth of the last few years.
Changing Labor Force Composition and the Natural Rate of Unemployment
This article discusses why changes in the composition of the labor force may have lowered the natural (or trend) rate of unemployment?the unemployment rate that would prevail in an economy making full use of its productive resources?to 5 percent or less. A lower natural rate may help explain why wage inflation and price inflation remain low despite actual unemployment recently reaching 5.5 percent?a figure only slightly above prominent estimates of the natural rate, such as that of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Demographic and other changes should continue to lower the natural rate ...
Estimating the trend in employment growth
For the unemployment rate to decline, the U.S. economy needs to generate above-trend job growth. We currently estimate trend employment growth to be around 80,000 jobs per month, and we expect it to decline over the remainder of the decade, due largely to changing labor force demographics and slower population growth.
Wage Shocks and the Technological Substitution of Low-Wage Job
We extend the task-based empirical framework used in the job polarization literature to analyze the susceptibility of low-wage employment to technological substitution. We find that increases in the cost of low-wage labor, via minimum wage hikes, lead to relative employment declines at cognitively routine occupations but not manually-routine or non-routine low-wage occupations. This suggests that low-wage routine cognitive tasks are susceptible to technological substitution. While the short-run employment consequence of this reshuffling on individual workers is economically small, due to ...
The Evolution of Technological Substitution in Low-Wage Labor Markets
This paper uses minimum wage hikes to evaluate the susceptibility of low-wage employment to technological substitution. We find that automation is accelerating and supplanting a broader set of low-wage routine jobs in the decade since the Financial Crisis. Simultaneously, low-wage interpersonal jobs are increasing and offsetting routine job loss. However, interpersonal job growth does not appear to be enough – as it was previous to the Financial Crisis – to fully offset the negative effects of automation on low-wage routine jobs. Employment losses are most evident among minority workers ...
The effect of state fiscal reform on population heterogeneity
This paper tests whether state fiscal policy alters neighborhood income homogeneity. One implication of the Tiebout model is that within-community homogeneity declines as a result of an exogenous decrease in the ability of jurisdictions to set local tax and expenditure levels. The Property tax revolt and the school finance equalization reform of the 1970s and 1980s offer a test of the role of state fiscal reform on aggregate population sorting behavior. The results show that fiscal reform, especially tax and expenditure limitation laws and property tax reform, results in a small but ...
The impact of baby boomer retirements on teacher labor markets
This article explores the future of teacher labor markets. The authors find that teacher hiring needs will rise over the coming decade largely because of retirements. However, this increase will not be significantly different from that of past decades.
Does Automation Always Lead to a Decline in Low-Wage Jobs?
To what extent are low-wage jobs in the United States being replaced by technology? Our research suggests that low-wage jobs that are intensive in routine cognitive tasks, such as cashier, were supplanted by automation during the 2000s. Moreover, since the Great Recession, jobs intensive in both routine manual and routine cognitive tasks have been negatively impacted by automation. Nevertheless, the overall effect on individual low-wage workers has been surprisingly small.