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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 ...
Whither Labor Force Participation?
Halting a nearly decade-long downward trend, the U.S. labor force participation rate (LFPR) has flattened since 2016, fluctuating within a narrow range a little below 63 percent. What role has the economy played in this change and what can we expect for the future? In this post, we investigate the extent to which the recent flattening of participation can be attributed to the simultaneous robust improvement in the labor market. We also assess the future path of participation in the medium run should labor market conditions improve further.
Expecting the Unexpected: Job Losses and Household Spending
Unemployment risk constitutes one of the most significant sources of uncertainty facing workers in the United States. A large body of work has carefully documented that job loss may have long-term effects on one?s career, depressing earnings by as much as 20 percent after fifteen to twenty years. Given the severity of a job loss for earnings, an important question is how much such an event affects one?s standard of living during a spell of unemployment. This blog post explores how unemployment and expectations of job loss interact to affect household spending.
Which Workers Bear the Burden of Social Distancing Policies?
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, nearly all U.S. states imposed social distancing policies to combat the spread of illness. To the extent that work can be done from home, some workers moved their offices to their abodes. Others, however, are unable to continue working as their usual tasks require a specific location or environment, or involve close proximity to others. Which types of jobs cannot be done from home and which types of jobs require close personal proximity to others? What share of overall U.S. employment falls in these categories? And, given that these jobs will be the ...
Searching for Higher Wages
Since the peak of the recession, the unemployment rate has fallen by almost 5 percentage points, and observers continue to focus on whether and when this decline will lead to robust wage growth. Typically, in the wake of such a decline, real wages grow since there is more competition for workers among potential employers. While this relationship has historically been quite informative, real wage growth more recently has not been commensurate with observed declines in the unemployment rate.
The Reluctance of Firms to Interview the Long-Term Unemployed
Estimates from the Current Population Survey show that the probability of finding a job declines the longer one is unemployed. Is this due to a loss of skills from being unemployed, employer discrimination against the long-term unemployed, or are there characteristics of workers in this segment of the workforce that lower their probability of finding a job? Studies that send out fictitious resumes find that employers do consider the length of unemployment in deciding whom to interview. Our recent work examines how such employer screening based on unemployment duration ultimately affects ...
Latent Heterogeneity in the Marginal Propensity to Consume
We estimate the distribution of marginal propensities to consume (MPCs) using a novel clustering approach that generalizes the fuzzy C-means algorithm to regression settings. We apply the estimator to the 2008 stimulus payments, exploiting the randomized timing of disbursements, and find considerable heterogeneity in MPCs that varies by consumption good. We document observable determinants of this heterogeneity, without imposing ex ante assumptions on such relationships; MPCs correlate positively with income and the average propensity to consume, but much heterogeneity remains unexplained. ...