The Effects of Unemployment Benefits on Unemployment and Labor Force Participation: Evidence from 35 Years of Benefits Extensions
This paper presents estimates of the effect of emergency and extended unemployment benefits (EEB) on the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate using a data set containing information on individuals likely eligible and ineligible for EEB back to the late 1970s. To identify these estimates, we examine how exit rates from unemployment change across different points of the distribution of unemployment duration when EEB is and is not available, controlling for changes in labor demand and demographic characteristics. We find that EEB increased the unemployment rate by about ...
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 ...
Demand-driven job separation: reconciling search models with the ins and outs of unemployment
This paper presents a search model of unemployment with a new mechanism of job separation based on firms' demand constraints. The model is consistent with the cyclical behavior of labor market variables and can account for three stylized facts about unemployment that the Mortensen-Pissarides (1994) model has difficulties explaining jointly: (i) the unemployment-vacancy correlation is negative, (ii) the contribution of the job separation rate to unemployment fluctuations is small but non-trivial, (iii) movements in the job separation rate are sharp and short-lived while movements in the job ...
The Natural Rate of Unemployment over the Past 100 Years
The natural rate of unemployment, or u-star, is used by economists and policymakers to help assess the overall state of the labor market. However, the natural rate is not directly observable and must be estimated. A new statistical approach estimates the natural rate over the past 100 years. Results suggest the natural rate has been remarkably stable over history, hovering between 4.5 and 5.5% for long periods, even during the Great Depression. Recent readings on the unemployment rate have been running slightly below the natural rate estimate.
Are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Asymmetric?
Economic research on the size of the fiscal multiplier has assumed that the effects of changes in government spending are symmetric ? that is, they influence economic output to the same degree whether the change is an increase or a decrease. Richmond Fed research indicates that this is not the case; the fiscal multiplier does vary according to the direction of the fiscal action and also varies with the stage of the economic cycle. This finding sheds light on likely outcomes of fiscal policies and helps account for inconsistent estimates of the multiplier in the literature.
Declining Labor Force Attachment and Downward Trends in Unemployment and Participation
The U.S. labor market witnessed two apparently unrelated secular movements in the last 30 years: a decline in unemployment between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, and a decline in participation since the early 2000s. Using CPS micro data and a stock-flow accounting framework, we show that a substantial, and hitherto unnoticed, factor behind both trends is a decline in the share of nonparticipants who are at the margin of participation. A lower share of marginal nonparticipants implies a lower unemployment rate, because marginal nonparticipants enter the labor force mostly through ...
The Shimer puzzle and the identification of productivity shocks
Shimer (2005) argues that the Mortensen-Pissarides (MP) model of unemployment lacks an amplification mechanism because it generates less than 10 percent of the observed business cycle fluctuations in unemployment given labor productivity shocks of plausible magnitude. This paper argues that part of the problem lies with the identification of productivity shocks. Because of the endogeneity of measured labor productivity, filtering out the trend component as in Shimer (2005) may not correctly identify the shocks driving unemployment. Using a New-Keynesian framework to control for the ...
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, ...
Is the Hot Economy Pulling New Workers into the Labor Force?
Labor force participation among prime-age workers has climbed over the past few years, reversing from the substantial drop during and after the last recession. These gains might suggest that the strength of the job market is pulling people from the sidelines into the labor force. However, analysis that accounts for underlying flows between labor force states shows that, rather than drawing new people in, the hot labor market has instead reduced the number of individuals who are dropping out.
Understanding the Size of the Government Spending Multiplier: It's in the Sign
This paper argues that an important, yet overlooked, determinant of the government spending multiplier is the direction of the fiscal intervention. 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 largest in times of economic slack. In contrast, the expansionary multiplier- the multiplier associated with a positive shock- is substantially below 1 regardless of the state of the cycle. These ...