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Author:Hobijn, Bart 

Working Paper
Household inflation experiences in the U.S.: a comprehensive approach

We present new measures of household-specific inflation experiences based on comprehensive information from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX). We match households in the Interview and the Diary Surveys from the CEX to produce both complete and detailed pictures of household expenditures. The resulting household inflation measures are based on a more accurate and detailed description of household expenditures than those previously available. We find that our household-based inflation measures track aggregate measures such as the CPI-U quite well and that the addition of Diary Survey data ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2009-19

Working Paper
On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations

Conventional analyses of cyclical fluctuations in the labor market ascribe a minor role to the labor force participation margin. In contrast, a flows-based decomposition of the variation in labor market stocks reveals that transitions at the participation margin account for around one-third of the cyclical variation in the unemployment rate. This result is robust to adjustments of data for spurious transitions, and for time aggregation. Inferences from conventional, stocks-based analyses of labor force participation are shown to be subject to a stock-flow fallacy, neglecting the offsetting ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2013-05

Report
Menu costs at work: restaurant prices and the introduction of the euro

Restaurant prices in the euro area saw an unprecedented increase after the introduction of the euro. We use an extension of commonly used models of sticky prices and argue that the increase in restaurant prices can be explained by menu costs. The extension we use involves the state-dependent decision of firms about when to adopt the euro. Two main mechanisms drive the result. First, our model concentrates otherwise staggered price increases around the introduction of the euro. Second, before the adoption of the euro, prices do not reflect marginal cost increases expected to occur after the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 195

Journal Article
What will homeland security cost?

The increased spending on security by the public and private sectors in response to September 11 could have important effects on the U.S. economy. Sizable government expenditures, for example, could trigger a rise in the cost of capital and wages and a reduction in investment and employment in the private sector, while large-scale spending by businesses could hamper firm productivity. This article attempts to quantify the likely effects of homeland security expenditures on the economy. It suggests that the total amount of public- and private-sector spending will be relatively small: the ...
Economic Policy Review , Volume 8 , Issue Nov , Pages 21-33

Working Paper
The Decline of the U.S. Labor Share

Over the past quarter century, labor?s share of income in the United States has trended downwards, reaching its lowest level in the postwar period after the Great Recession. Detailed examination of the magnitude, determinants and implications of this decline delivers five conclusions. First, around one third of the decline in the published labor share is an artifact of a progressive understatement of the labor income of the self-employed underlying the headline measure. Second, movements in labor?s share are not a feature solely of recent U.S. history: The relative stability of the aggregate ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2013-27

Working Paper
Aggregate real wages: macro fluctuations and micro drivers

Using data from the Current Population Survey from 1980 through 2010 we examine what drives variation and cyclicality in the growth rate of real wages over time. We employ a novel decomposition technique that allows us to divide the time series for median weekly earnings growth into the part associated with the wage growth of persons employed at the beginning and end of the period (the wage growth effect) and the part associated with changes in the composition of earners (the composition effect). The relative importance of these two effects varies widely over the business cycle. When the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2011-23

Journal Article
Will the jobless rate drop take a break?

In January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics significantly reduced its projections for medium-term labor force participation. The revision implies that recent participation declines have largely been due to long-term trends rather than business-cycle effects. However, as the economy recovers, some discouraged workers may return to the labor force, boosting participation beyond the Bureau?s forecast. Given current job creation rates, if workers who want a job but are not actively looking join the labor force, the unemployment rate could stop falling in the short term.>
FRBSF Economic Letter

Working Paper
The labor market in the Great Recession

This paper documents the adjustment of the labor market during the recession, and places it in the broader context of previous postwar downturns. What emerges is a picture of labor market dynamics with three key recurring themes: 1. From the perspective of a wide range of labor market outcomes, the 2007 recession represents the deepest downturn in the labor market in the postwar era. 2. Until recently, the nature of labor market adjustment in the current recession has displayed a notable resemblance to that observed in past severe downturns. 3. During the latter half of 2009, however, the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2010-07

Working Paper
CONDI: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index

We construct a price index with weights on the prices of different PCE goods chosen to minimize the welfare costs of nominal distortions: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index (CONDI). We compute these weights in a multisector New Keynesian model with time-dependent price setting, calibrated using U.S. data on the dispersion of price stickiness and labor shares across sectors. We find that the CONDI weights mostly depend on price stickiness and are less affected by the dispersion in labor shares. Moreover, CONDI stabilization leads to negligible welfare losses compared to the optimal policy and ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2009-03

Report
Firms and flexibility

We study the effects of labor market rigidities and frictions on firm-size distributions and dynamics. We introduce a model of endogenous entrepreneurship, labor market frictions, and firm-size dynamics with many types of rigidities, such as hiring and firing costs, search frictions with vacancy costs, unemployment benefits, firm entry costs, and a tax wedge between wages and labor costs. We use the model to analyze how each rigidity explains firm-size differentials between the United States and France. We find that when we include all rigidities and frictions except hiring costs and search ...
Staff Reports , Paper 311

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