A unified approach to measuring u*
This paper bridges the gap between two popular approaches to estimating the natural rate of unemployment, u*. The first approach uses detailed labor market indicators, such as labor market flows, cross-sectional data on unemployment and vacancies, or various measures of demographic changes. The second approach, which employs reduced-form models and DSGE models, relies on aggregate price and wage Phillips curve relationships. We combine the key features of these two approaches to estimate the natural rate of unemployment in the United States using both data on labor market flows and a ...
Job search behavior over the business cycle
We create a novel measure of job search effort starting in 1994 by exploiting the overlap between the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey. We examine the cyclical behavior of aggregate job search effort using time series and cross-state variation and find that it is countercyclical. About half of the countercyclical movement is explained by a cyclical shift in the observable characteristics of the unemployed. Individual responses to labor market conditions and drops in wealth are important in explaining the remaining variation.
The Vanishing U.S.-E.U. Employment Gap
The employment-to-population ratio—the share of adults that are employed—has historically been much higher in the United States than in Europe. However, the gap narrowed dramatically in the last decade and had almost disappeared by the end of 2009. In this post, we show that the narrowing employment gap is due to three factors: declining U.S. employment rates across almost all age-gender groups; more women working in Europe, particularly prime-age and older workers; and rising employment for older European men. We link most of these shifts to the influence of underlying trends (many ...
Subsidizing job creation in the Great Recession
We analyze the effects of various labor market policies on job creation, job destruction, and employment. The framework of Mortensen and Pissarides (2003) is used to model the dynamic interaction between firms and workers and to simulate their responses to alternative policies. The equilibrium model is calibrated to capture labor market conditions at the end of 2009, including the unemployment, inflow, and outflow rates by workers of different educational attainment. We consider the equilibrium effects of a hiring subsidy, a payroll tax reduction, and an employment subsidy. While calibrating ...
Which industries are shifting the Beveridge curve?
The negative relationship between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate, known as the Beveridge curve, has been relatively stable in the U.S. over the last decade. Since the summer of 2009, however, the U.S. unemployment rate has hovered between 9.4 and 10.1 percent in spite of firms reporting more job openings. We decompose the recent deviation from the Beveridge curve into different parts using data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). We find that most of the current deviation from the Beveridge curve can be attributed to a shortfall in the vacancy yield, ...
Working hard in the wrong place: a mismatch-based explanation to the UK productivity puzzle
The UK experienced an unusually prolonged stagnation in labor productivity in the aftermath of the Great Recession. This paper analyzes the role of sectoral labor misallocation in accounting for this ?productivity puzzle.? If jobseekers disproportionately search for jobs in sectors where productivity is relatively low, hires are concentrated in the wrong sectors and the post-recession recovery in aggregate productivity can be slow. Our calculations suggest that, quantified at the level of three-digit occupations, this mechanism can explain up to two-thirds of the deviations from trend-growth ...
The Different Paths of Greece and Spain to High Unemployment
Euro area GDP remains below its 2007 level due to the global financial meltdown and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis in the periphery countries. Unemployment rates make it clear that some countries have fared much worse than others—the rates in Spain and Greece today are over 25 percent and are much higher than rates in the next highest, Portugal (15.7 percent), and in the euro area (11.6 percent). Quite a change from 2007, when Spain and Greece had lower unemployment rates than the euro area as a whole. In this post, we show that while the unemployment rates in the two countries are ...
Has the Willingness to Work Fallen During the Pandemic?
We examine the effect of the Covid pandemic on willingness to work along both the extensive and intensive margins of labor supply. Special survey questions in the Job Search Supplement of the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) allow us to elicit information about individuals’ desired work hours for the 2013-2021 period. Using these questions, along with workers’ actual labor market participation, we construct a labor market underutilization measure, the Aggregate Hours Gap (AHG), following Faberman et al. (2020). The AHG captures changes in labor market underutilization for the full ...
We develop a framework where mismatch between vacancies and job seekers across sectors translates into higher unemployment by lowering the aggregate job-finding rate. We use this framework to measure the contribution of mismatch to the recent rise in U.S. unemployment by exploiting two sources of cross-sectional data on vacancies: JOLTS and HWOL (a new database covering the universe of online U.S. job advertisements). Mismatch across industries and occupations explains at most one-third of the total observed increase in the unemployment rate. Geographical mismatch plays no apparent role. ...
How Do People Find Jobs?
Most people find themselves looking for work at some point in their adult lives. But what brings employers and job seekers together? And does searching for a new job while unemployed lead to different outcomes than searching while employed? Little is known about the job search process for unemployed workers. Even less is known about the search process and outcomes for currently employed workers?so?called ?on?the?job? search. This Liberty Street Economics post aims to shed light on these questions and to draw some conclusions for our understanding of labor market dynamics more generally.