Labor Market Shocks and Monetary Policy
We develop a heterogeneous-agent New Keynesian model featuring a frictional labor market with on-the-job search to quantitatively study the role of worker flows in inflation dynamics and monetary policy. Motivated by our empirical finding that the historical negative correlation between the unemployment rate and the employer-to-employer (EE) transition rate up to the Great Recession disappeared during the recovery, we use the model to quantify the effect of EE transitions on inflation in this period. We find that the four-quarter inflation rate would have been 0.6 percentage points higher ...
Geographical reallocation and unemployment during the Great Recession: the role of the housing bust
This paper quantitatively evaluates the hypothesis that the housing bust in 2007 decreased geographical reallocation and increased the dispersion and level of unemployment during the Great Recession. We construct an equilibrium model of multiple locations with frictional housing and labor markets. When house prices fall, the amount of home equity declines, making it harder for homeowners to afford the down payment on a new house after moving. Consequently, the decline in house prices reduces migration and causes unemployment to rise differently in different locations. The model accounts for ...
Understanding Permanent and Temporary Income Shocks
The earnings of 200 million U.S. workers change each year for various reasons. Some of these changes are anticipated while others are more unexpected. Although many of these changes may be due to pleasant surprises?such as receiving salary raises and promotions?others involve disappointments?such as falling into unemployment. Arguably, some of these factors have rather short-lived effects on an individual?s earnings, whereas others may have permanent effects. Many labor economists have been interested in these various shocks to earnings. How big are the more permanent shocks to earnings? How ...
What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Dynamics?
We study individual earnings dynamics over the life cycle using panel data on millions of U.S. workers. Using nonparametric methods, we first show that the distribution of earnings changes exhibits substantial deviations from lognormality, such as negative skewness and very high kurtosis. Further, the extent of these nonnormalities varies significantly with age and earnings level, peaking around age 50 and between the 70th and 90th percentiles of the earnings distribution. Second, we estimate nonparametric impulse response functions and find important asymmetries: positive changes for ...
The Long-Term Unemployed and the Wages of New Hires
This is the third in a series of blog posts on the topic of measuring labor market slack. In this post, we assess the relationships between short- and long-term unemployment and wages by comparing the differences in states’ experiences over the business cycle. While all states felt the impact of the Great Recession, some fared better than others. Consequently, it is possible to use differences in the composition and shifts of short- and long-term unemployment to determine whether short-term unemployment exerts a greater influence on wage determination. The results suggest that there is ...
Black and White Differences in the Labor Market Recovery from COVID-19
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the various measures put in place to contain it caused a rapid deterioration in labor market conditions for many workers and plunged the nation into recession. The unemployment rate increased dramatically during the COVID recession, rising from 3.5 percent in February to 14.8 percent in April, accompanied by an almost three percentage point decline in labor force participation. While the subsequent labor market recovery in the aggregate has exceeded even some of the most optimistic scenarios put forth soon after this dramatic rise, the recovery has been ...
Minimum Wage Impacts along the New York-Pennsylvania Border
The federal minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 per hour, has remained unchanged for the longest stretch of time since its 1938 inception under the Fair Labor Standards Act. With the real purchasing power of the federal minimum wage eroded by inflation, many states and municipalities have raised their local minimum wages. As of July 2019, fourteen states plus the District of Columbia—home to 35 percent of Americans—have minimum wages above $10 per hour, as do numerous localities scattered across other states. New York is among a handful of states—along with California, Connecticut, ...
Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital
We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the U.S. by focusing on latent heterogeneity in job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning as sources of wage growth differentials. Using administrative data, we find (i) more frequent job switches among lower LE workers, mainly driven by nonemployment spells, (ii) little heterogeneity in average annual earnings growth of job stayers in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, and (iii) an earnings growth for job switchers that rises strongly with LE. We estimate a structural model featuring a rich set of worker types and ...
Measuring Labor Market Slack: Are the Long-Term Unemployed Different?
There has been some debate in the Liberty Street Economics blog and in other outlets, such as Krueger, Cramer, and Cho (2014) and Gordon(2013), about whether the short-term unemployment rate is a better measure of slack than the overall unemployment rate. As the chart below shows, the two measures are sending different signals, with the short-term unemployment rate back to its pre-recession level while the overall rate is still elevated because of a high long-term unemployment rate. One can argue that the unemployment rate is exaggerating the extent of underutilization in the labor market, ...
Micro and Macro Effects of UI Policies: Evidence from Missouri
We develop a method to jointly measure the response of worker search effort (micro effect) and vacancy creation (macro effect) to changes in the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. To implement this approach, we exploit an unexpected cut in UI durations in Missouri and provide quasi-experimental evidence on the effect of UI on the labor market. The data indicate that the cut in Missouri significantly increased job finding rates by both raising the search effort of unemployed workers and the availability of jobs. The latter accounts for at least one half of the total effect.