The Rise and Fall of Consumption in the 2000s
U.S. consumption has gone through steep ups and downs since the turn of the millennium, but the causes of these fluctuations are still imperfectly identified. We quantify the relative impact on consumption growth of income, unemployment, house prices, credit scores, debt, expectations, foreclosures, inequality, and refinancings for four subperiods: the ?dot-com recession? (2001-2003), the ?subprime boom? (2004-2006), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the ?tepid recovery? (2010-2012). We document that the explanatory power of different factors varies by subperiods, implying that a ...
The credit card debt puzzle: the role of preferences, credit risk, and financial literacy
We use the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to revisit what is termed the credit card debt puzzle: why consumers simultaneously co-hold high-interest credit card debt and low-interest assets that could be used to pay down this debt. This dataset contains unique information on intelligence, financial literacy, and preferences, while also providing a complete picture of households? balance sheets. Relative to individuals with no credit card debt but positive liquid assets, individuals in the puzzle group have higher discount rates, slightly lower financial literacy scores, and very ...
Population Aging and the US Labor Force Participation Rate
The labor force participation rate dropped sharply at the beginning of the pandemic, and as of November 2021 it had recovered only about half of its lost ground. The failure of the participation rate to get closer to its level immediately before the pandemic has puzzled many analysts. In this note, we show that the current participation rate is much less puzzling if one compares it with participation in November 2017 (the last time the unemployment rate was at its current level of 4.2 percent), rather than February 2020 (immediately before the pandemic). Since November 2017, population aging ...
The Roles of Mobility and Masks in the Spread of COVID-19
This policy brief analyzes the effects of COVID-19 mitigation policies, those that restrict movement and activity and those that advocate public health best practices. The analysis uses US state-level data to estimate the effects of mobility, mask mandates, and compliance with these mandates on the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths. A one-standard-deviation increase in mobility is associated with an 11 to 20 basis points greater rate of growth in case counts; a mask mandate can offset about half of this increase. Slower growth in case counts ultimately translates into slower growth in ...
Keeping the house or moving for a job
Some reports have suggested that employers can?t fill job openings in some places because they can?t entice workers to move. Workers won?t move, so the story goes, when doing so will mean losing money on their homes, and this is the case for many homeowners since the housing crash. But new research shows that homeowners will move when they have a better job offer, even if they will lose money on their home when they sell it.
COVID-19 and the Labor Market Outcomes for Prime-Aged Women
This paper documents labor market outcomes for prime-aged women relative to those for prime-aged men since the COVID-19 pandemic officially started. The pandemic-induced recession has played out very differently compared with previous recessions, with women initially losing jobs at higher rates than men. While the pandemic has been hard for everybody, it has resulted in a widening of the gender gaps in employment and labor force participation of roughly 2 percentage points. The gaps grew initially due to occupation distribution differences across genders as well as school closings. Women ...
Moving to a job: The role of home equity, debt, and access to credit
Using credit report data from two of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, we infer with high certainty whether households move to other labor markets defined by metropolitan areas. We estimate how moving patterns relate to labor market conditions, personal credit, and homeownership using panel regressions with fixed effects which control for all constant individual-specific traits. We interpret the patterns through simulations of a dynamic model of consumption, housing, and location choice. We find that homeowners with negative home equity move more than other homeowners, in ...
Labor market exit and re-entry: is the United States poised for a rebound in the labor force participation rate?
The U.S. labor force participation rate has declined sharply since 2007?far faster than can be explained by demographic shifts in the population. This brief analyzes the re-entry probability for individuals who exit the labor force as well as the financial demographic, and employment characteristics of these individuals. The vast majority of individuals under 45 years of age re-enter the labor market within four years of exiting; however, the re-entry rate drops substantially for 50?54 year-olds and 55?59 year-olds. Those individuals who exit the labor market appear more marginally attached ...
The local aggregate effects of minimum wage increases
This paper examines the effect of minimum wage changes on local aggregate inflation and consumption growth. The paper utilizes variation in state-level minimum wages across locations and finds that minimum wage increases have a relatively modest effect on both city-level inflation and spending growth over the years following the change. The most noticeable effects are for food consumed at home and away from home?industries that typically employ a large share of low-wage and minimum-wage workers. Interestingly, consumers adjust their real food consumption when minimum wages rise, suggesting ...
Household formation over time: evidence from two cohorts of young adults
Residential investment accounts for an important component of U.S. gross domestic product, and traditionally plays a strong role in business cycle expansions. U.S. residential investment has improved slowly during the recovery from the Great Recession, despite a relatively strong national rebound in house prices and record low interest rates. An important determinant of residential investment is the household formation rate, which is largely driven by young adults moving out of their parents? homes after completing high school or college. New household formation can be offset when existing ...