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Author:Hobijn, Bart 

Journal Article
The Divergent Signals about Labor Market Slack

A broad dashboard of indicators is sending mixed signals about the state of the labor market. Some indicators have deviated widely from their normal historical relationships since the onset of COVID-19. Because of the uneven economic impact of the pandemic, the labor force participation rate, payroll employment, and the share of job losers among the unemployed have provided more reliable signals about overall conditions than other components of the dashboard. They suggest that labor slack is higher than implied by the current headline unemployment rate.
FRBSF Economic Letter , Volume 2021 , Issue 15 , Pages 01-06

Report
Inflation inequality in the United States

Inflation is often assumed to affect all people in the same way. In practice, differences in spending patterns across households and differences in price increases across goods and services lead to unequal levels of inflation for different households. In this paper, we measure the degree of inequality in inflation across U.S. households for the period 1987-2001. ; Our results suggest that the inflation experiences of U.S. households vary significantly. Most of the differences can be traced to changes in the relative prices of education, health care, and gasoline. We find that cost of living ...
Staff Reports , Paper 173

Journal Article
The breadth of disinflation

In recent months, inflation as measured by the personal consumption expenditures price index has been trending lower. This slowdown, known as disinflation, has raised concerns that inflation might actually drop below zero and enter a period of deflation. An examination of the distribution of inflation rates across the range of goods and services that compose the index suggests that downward pressures on inflation are relatively high by historical standards.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Journal Article
Cap rates and commercial property prices

Commercial real estate capitalization rates have been found to be good indicators of expected returns in commercial properties. Recent declines in these cap rates appear to be signaling a commercial real estate rebound, indicating improved investor expectations of price growth in the market. Movements in national cap rates are the predominant drivers of changes in cap rates in local markets. Therefore, the anticipated commercial real estate rebound is likely to be widespread across many metropolitan areas.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Journal Article
The Illusion of Wage Growth

Despite a sharp spike in unemployment since March 2020, aggregate wage growth has accelerated. This acceleration has been almost entirely attributable to job losses among low-wage workers. Wage growth for those who remain employed has been flat. This pattern is not unique to COVID-19 but is more profound now than in previous recessions. This means that, in the wake of the virus, evaluations of the labor market must rely on a dashboard of indicators, rather than any single measure, to paint a complete picture of the losses and the recovery.
FRBSF Economic Letter , Volume 2020 , Issue 26 , Pages 01-05

Journal Article
Inflationary Effects of Trade Disputes with China

Imports from China are an important part of overall U.S. imports of consumer and investment goods. Thus, tariffs on these imports are likely to have sizable effects on consumer, producer, and investment prices in this country. Tariffs implemented thus far may have contributed an estimated 0.1 percentage point to consumer price inflation and 0.4 percentage point to price inflation for business investment goods. If implemented, an across-the-board 25% tariff on all Chinese imports would raise consumer prices an additional 0.3 percentage point and investment prices an additional 1.0 percentage ...
FRBSF Economic Letter

Journal Article
Okun’s law and the unemployment surprise of 2009

In 2009, strong growth in productivity allowed firms to lay off large numbers of workers while holding output relatively steady. This behavior threw a wrench into the long-standing relationship between changes in GDP and changes in the unemployment rate, known as Okun?s law. If Okun?s law had held in 2009, the unemployment rate would have risen by about half as much as it did over the course of the year.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Journal Article
Gauging the momentum of the labor recovery

Federal Reserve policymakers are watching a broad set of indicators for signs of ?substantial? labor market improvement, a key consideration for beginning to scale back asset purchases. One way to find which are most useful is to focus on how well movements in these indicators predict changes in the unemployment rate. Research suggests that six indicators are most promising. They offer evidence that the recovery has more momentum now than a year ago, a strong signal that the labor market is improving and could accelerate in coming months.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Journal Article
The path of wage growth and unemployment

After the Great Recession, the fraction of U.S. workers whose wages were frozen reached a record high. Many employers would have preferred to cut wages, but couldn?t do so because of the reluctance of workers to accept reduced compensation. These pent-up wage cuts initially propped up wage growth, reduced hiring, and pushed up unemployment. But, over the past 2 years, inflation has eroded the real value of frozen wages, slowing wage growth and reducing the unemployment rate. This is similar to, but more pronounced than, the pattern observed in past recessions.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Working Paper
Unemployment dynamics in the OECD

We provide a set of comparable estimates for the rates of inflow to and outflow from unemployment for 14 OECD economies using publicly available data. We then devise a method to decompose changes in unemployment into contributions accounted for by changes in inflow and outflow rates for cases where unemployment deviates from its flow steady state, as it does in many countries. Our decomposition reveals that fluctuations in both inflow and outflow rates contribute substantially to unemployment variation within countries. For Anglo-Saxon economies we find approximately a 20:80 inflow/outflow ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2009-04

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