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.
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, ...
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 ...
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.
What drives matching efficiency? a tale of composition and dispersion
This paper presents a framework to study movements in the matching efficiency of the labor market and highlights two observable factors affecting matching efficiency: (i) unemployment composition and (ii) dispersion in labor market conditions, the fact that tight labor markets coexist with slack ones. Using CPS micro data over 1976-2009, we find that composition is responsible for most of the movements in matching efficiency until 2006. In 2008-2009, only forty percent of an exceptionally low matching efficiency can be attributed to composition. New highly disaggregated data on vacancies and ...
Are the Effects of Monetary Policy Asymmetric?
The Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to stimulate the economy when unemployment is high and to rein in inflationary pressures when the economy is overheating. However, evidence suggests that these policy stances have unequal effects. Contractionary monetary shocks raise unemployment more strongly than expansionary shocks lower it.
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 ...
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 ...