Grown-up business cycles
We document two striking facts about U.S. firm dynamics and interpret their significance for employment dynamics. The first is the dramatic decline in firm entry and the second is the gradual shift of employment toward older firms since 1980. We show that despite these trends, the lifecycle dynamics of firms and their business cycle properties have remained virtually unchanged. Consequently, aging is the delayed effect of accumulating startup deficits. Together, the decline in the employment contribution of startups and the shift of employment toward more mature firms contributed to the ...
The role of start-ups in structural transformation
The U.S. economy has been going through a striking structural transformation?the secular reallocation of employment across sectors?over the past several decades. We propose a decomposition framework to assess the contributions of various margins of firm dynamics to this shift. Using firm-level data, we find that at least 50 percent of the adjustment has been taking place along the entry margin, owing to sectors receiving shares of start-up employment that differ from their overall employment shares. The rest is mostly the result of life cycle differences across sectors. Declining overall ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
Demographic origins of the startup deficit
We propose a simple explanation for the long-run decline in the startup rate. It was caused by a slowdown in labor supply growth since the late 1970s, largely pre-determined by demographics. This channel explains roughly two-thirds of the decline and why incumbent firm survival and average growth over the lifecycle have been little changed. We show these results in a standard model of firm dynamics and test the mechanism using shocks to labor supply growth across states. Finally, we show a longer startup rate series, imputed using historical establishment tabulations, that rises over the ...
Shifts in the Beveridge curve
This note puts the current shift in the Beveridge curve into context by examining the behavior of the curve since 1950. Outward shifts in the Beveridge curve have been common occurrences during U.S. recoveries. By itself, the presence of a shift has not been a good predictor of whether the unemployment rate at the end of the expansion following a shift was higher or lower than that in the preceding expansion.
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.