How Large were the Effects of Emergency and Extended Benefits on Unemployment during the Great Recession and its Aftermath?
This paper presents estimates of the effect of unemployment benefit extensions during the Great Recession on unemployment and labor force participation. Unlike many recent studies of this subject, our estimates, following the work of Hagedorn, Karahan, Manovskii, and Mitman (2016), are inclusive of the effects of benefit extensions on employer, as well as, worker behavior. To identify the effect of benefit extensions, we use plausibly exogenous changes in the rules governing benefit extensions and their differential effects on the maximum duration of benefits across states. We find that the ...
The effect of restructuring on unemployment
This paper finds that the permanent job losses associated with industrial restructuring have significantly boosted the variance of unemployment, causing it to rise much higher in recessions than it would have without cyclically correlated restructuring. Moreover, the influence of restructuring has increased noticeably in the 1980s and 1990s, acting to increase economic instability at a time when other factors were operating to reduce it.
The cyclical behavior of short-term and long-term job flows
Using a band pass filter, this paper estimates plant-level job flows at different frequencies and examines the characteristics of the high frequency (transitory) and low frequency (permanent) component flows. Because high frequency employment movements, which likely result in changes in the utilization of plant assets, and low frequency movements, which likely coincide with the restructuring of plant assets, result in different costs to the economy, understanding their separate behavior is important. High frequency plant-level employment fluctuations account for the majority of cyclical ...
Workweek flexibility and hours variation
I use the term workweek flexibility to describe the ease of changing output by altering the number of hours per worker. Despite the fact that workweek flexibility is potentially important for understanding the cyclical behavior of marginal cost and prices, as well as cyclical movements in hours and output, it has received little attention. Using insights from a simple model of employment and the workweek, I use mean workweek levels to identify the effect of workweek flexibility and then show that it is an important determinant of firms' marginal cost schedules and the variance of industry ...
Reconciling Unemployment Claims with Job Losses in the First Months of the COVID-19 Crisis
In the spring of 2020, many observers relied heavily on weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) to estimate contemporaneous reductions in US employment induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though UI claims provided a timely, high-frequency window into mounting layoffs, the cumulative volume of initial claims filed through the May reference week substantially exceeded realized reductions in payroll employment and likely contributed to the historically large discrepancy between consensus expectations of further April-to-May job losses and the strong job gains reflected in ...
Is reallocation related to the cycle? A look at permanent and temporary job flows
How much of aggregate employment fluctuations is due to plants destroying and then recreating the same jobs over the cycle and how much is due to some plants permanently destroying jobs in a recession and other plants permanently creating jobs in an expansion? This paper decomposes plant level job flows into permanent and temporary components to answer this question, and finds that the permanent reallocation of jobs across plants accounts for approximately 30 percent of the cyclical fluctuations in aggregate employment.
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 ...
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 ...
How biased are measures of cyclical movements in productivity and hours?
The movement of hours worked over the business cycle is an important input into the estimation of many key parameters in macroeconomics. Unfortunately, the available data on hours do not correspond precisely to the concept required for accurate inference. We study one source of mismeasurement--that the most commonly used source data measure hours paid instead of hours worked--focusing our attention on salaried workers, a group for whom the gap between hours paid and hours worked is likely particularly large. We show that the measurement gap varies significantly and positively with changes in ...
Explaining cyclical movements in employment: creative destruction or changes in utilization
An important step in understanding why employment fluctuates cyclically is determining the relative importance of cyclical movements in permanent and temporary plant-level employment changes. If movements in permanent employment changes are important, then recessions are times when the destruction of job specific capital picks up and/or investment in new job capital slows. If movements in temporary employment changes are important, then employment fluctuations are related to the temporary movement of workers across activities (e.g., from work to home production or search and back again) as ...