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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
What drives movements in the unemployment rate? a decomposition of the Beveridge curve
This paper presents a framework to interpret movements in the Beveridge curve and analyze unemployment fluctuations. We decompose the unemployment rate into three main components: (1) a component driven by changes in labor demand--movements along the Beveridge curve and shifts in the Beveridge curve due to layoffs--(2) a component driven by changes in labor supply--shifts in the Beveridge curve due to quits, movements in-and-out of the labor force and demographics--and (3) a component driven by changes in the efficiency of matching unemployed workers to jobs. We find that cyclical movements ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.