Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data
One suggested hypothesis for the dramatic rise in household borrowing that preceded the financial crisis is that low-income households increased their demand for credit to finance higher consumption expenditures in order to "keep up" with higher-income households. Using household level data on debt accumulation during 2001-2012, we show that low-income households in high-inequality regions accumulated less debt relative to income than their counterparts in lower-inequality regions, which negates the hypothesis. We argue instead that these patterns are consistent with supply-side ...
Productivity insurance: the role of unemployment benefits in a multi-sector model
We construct a multi-sector search and matching model where the unemployed receive idiosyncratic productivity shocks that make working in certain sectors more productive than in the others. Agents must decide which sector to search in and face moving costs when leaving their current sector for another. In this environment, unemployment is associated with an additional risk: low future wages if mobility costs preclude search in the appropriate sector. This introduces a new role for unemployment benefits?productivity insurance while unemployed. Analytically, we characterize two competing ...
Estimating Aggregate Fiscal Multipliers from Local Data
Variations among regions in their responses to economic policies can be used to estimate the effects of those policies at the national level while minimizing or eliminating issues of reverse causation. Recent research has employed county-level data to look at the effects of federal government spending ? in particular, the 2009?12 stimulus ? on aggregate consumption.
Are wages rigid over the business cycle?
Search models of the labor market suggest that a significant determinant of job creation decisions by firms is the expected value of the initial and future real wages that firms have to pay to workers in newly formed employment relationships. Until recently, the focus of the empirical literature has been on the cyclical behavior of the current wage, but not on the cyclical behavior of the expected present discounted value of future wages within a match. This article reviews the empirical literature on the cyclicality of real wages of workers in continuing employment relationships, wages of ...
Projecting Unemployment and Demographic Trends
Demographic forces have profoundly shaped the dynamics of U.S. labor force participation and unemployment over the past forty years. Recognizing the importance of these employment indicators for the conduct of monetary policy, this Economic Brief explores how they have been influenced by the U.S. population's changing gender, educational, and age profile. Based on the authors' estimates, the trend U.S. unemployment rate will decline to 4.3 percent over the next ten years as the population continues to age and increase its educational attainment.
Job-Finding and Job-Losing: A Comprehensive Model of Heterogeneous Individual Labor-Market Dynamics
We track the path that a worker follows after losing a job. Initially, the typical job-loser spends some time out of the labor force and in job search. Only a month or two later, in normal times, the worker lands a job. But the job is frequently brief. Over the next few months, the worker finds a good match that becomes a long-term job. Short-term jobs tend to precede long-term ones. Short-term employment shares some of the characteristics of unemployment and some of the characteristics of employment. We show that this pattern of moving among working, searching for a job, and being out of the ...
Minimum Wage Increases and Vacancies
We estimate the impact of minimum-wage increases on the quantity of labor demanded as measured by firms’ vacancy postings. We use propriety, county-level vacancy data from the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online database. Our identification relies on the disproportionate effects of minimum-wage hikes on different occupations, as the wage distribution around the binding minimum wage differs by occupation. We find that minimum-wage increases during the 2005-2018 period have led to substantial declines in vacancy postings in at-risk occupations, occupations with a larger share of ...
Accounting for the non-employment of U.S. men, 1968-2010
We conduct an accounting exercise of the changes in aggregate employment, unemployment, and out of labor force (OLF) among 25?64-year-old men from 1968?2010. We decompose the observed changes in these labor market outcomes into changes in the sociodemographic composition of the population and changes in the labor market outcomes of different sociodemographic groups. Using the results of the decomposition, we predict that the OLF-to-population ratio for men will increase to 16 percent in 2015, up from 14.7 percent in 2010.
The cyclicality of the user cost of labor with search and matching
The user cost of labor captures the hiring wage and the expected effect of the economic conditions at the time of hiring on future wages. In search and matching models, I show that it is the user cost and not the wage that is weighted against the worker's marginal product at the time of hiring; so, the user cost is the allocational variable. I construct its measure in the data and estimate that it is more procyclical than average wages or wages of newly hired workers. I show that the textbook search and matching model cannot simultaneously generate the empirical elasticities of the ...
Why Is Unemployment Currently So Low?
Unemployment is at a 50-year low. The low rate is not from an unusually high job-finding rate out of unemployment but, rather, an unusually low rate at which people enter unemployment. The low entry rate reflects a long-run downward trend likely due to population aging, better job matches, and other structural factors. These developments lowered the long-run unemployment rate trend. At the end of 2019, the unemployment rate was below the trend but no more so than in previous business cycle peaks, indicating that the labor market is no tighter.