How Tight Is the U.S. Labor Market?
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a very low level at the end of 2016, raising the question of whether the labor market has become too tight. After applying a new method to adjust for demographic changes in the labor force, the current unemployment rate is still 0.3 to 0.4 percentage point higher than at past labor market peaks. This indicates that the labor market may not be quite as tight as the headline unemployment rate suggests.
The ins and outs of forecasting unemployment: Using labor force flows to forecast the labor market
This paper presents a forecasting model of unemployment based on labor force ows data that, in real time, dramatically outperforms the Survey of Professional Forecasters, historical forecasts from the Federal Reserve Board's Greenbook, and basic time-series models. Our model's forecast has a root-mean-squared error about 30 percent below that of the next-best forecast in the near term and performs especially well surrounding large recessions and cyclical turning points. Further, because our model uses information on labor force ows that is likely not incorporated by other forecasts, a ...
Understanding the Size of the Government Spending Multiplier: It's in the Sign
The literature on the government spending multiplier has implicitly assumed that an increase in government spending has the same (mirror-image) effect as a decrease in government spending. We show that relaxing this assumption is important to understand the effects of fiscal policy. Regardless of whether we identify government spending shocks from (i) a narrative approach, or (ii) a timing restriction, we find that the contractionary multiplier?the multiplier associated with a negative shock to government spending?is above 1 and even larger in times of economic slack. In contrast, the ...
Adjusting the Unemployment Thermometer
Stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have severely distorted labor market statistics, notably the official unemployment rate. A method to correct the survey biases associated with the pandemic indicates that the true unemployment rate was substantially higher than the official rate in April and May. However, the biases appeared to fade thereafter, making the drop in June even more dramatic than implied by the official data.
Is the American Rescue Plan Taking Us Back to the ’60s?
The American Rescue Plan provided fiscal support during a strong economic rebound, raising concerns about the risk of fueling inflation. One way to assess this risk of economic overheating uses the ratio of job vacancies to unemployment, which measures labor market slack more accurately and, hence, can predict future inflation better than the unemployment rate alone. Estimates suggest that the fiscal plan acts to temporarily raise the vacancy-to- unemployment ratio, in turn pushing up inflation by about 0.3 percentage point per year through 2022.
Which industries are shifting the Beveridge curve?
The negative relationship between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate, known as the Beveridge curve, has been relatively stable in the U.S. over the last decade. Since the summer of 2009, however, the U.S. unemployment rate has hovered between 9.4 and 10.1 percent in spite of firms reporting more job openings. We decompose the recent deviation from the Beveridge curve into different parts using data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). We find that most of the current deviation from the Beveridge curve can be attributed to a shortfall in the vacancy yield, ...
Theory Ahead of Measurement? Assessing the Nonlinear Effects of Financial Market Disruptions
An important, yet untested, prediction of many macro models with financial frictions is that financial market disruptions can have highly nonlinear effects on economic activity. This paper presents empirical evidence supporting this prediction, and in particular that financial shocks have substantial (i) asymmetric and (ii) state dependent effects. First, negative shocks to credit supply have large and persistent effects on output, but positive shocks have no significant effect. Second, credit supply shocks have larger and more persistent effects in periods of weak economic growth.
Vacancy posting, job separation and unemployment fluctuations
This paper studies the relative importance of the two main determinants of cyclical unemployment fluctuations: vacancy posting and job separation. Using a matching function to model the flow of new jobs, I draw on Shimer's (2007) unemployment flow rates decomposition and find that job separation and vacancy posting respectively account for about 40 and 60 percent of unemployment's variance. When considering higher-order moments, I find that job separation contributes to about 60 percent of unemployment steepness asymmetry, a stylized fact of the jobless rate. Finally, while vacancy posting ...
Can Government Spending Help to Escape Recessions?
A key to designing fiscal policy is understanding how government purchases affect economic output overall. Research suggests that expanding government spending is not very effective at stimulating an economy in normal times. However, in deep downturns when monetary policy is constrained at the zero lower bound, public spending is more potent and can become an effective way to escape a recession.
Productivity, aggregate demand and unemployment fluctuations
This paper presents new empirical evidence on the cyclical behavior of US unemployment that poses a challenge to standard search and matching models. The correlation between cyclical unemployment and the cyclical component of labor productivity switched sign in the mid 80s: from negative it became positive, while standard search models imply a negative correlation. I argue that the inconsistency arises because search models do not allow output to be demand determined in the short run, and I present a search model with nominal rigidities that can rationalize the empirical findings. In ...