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The Unequal Impact of COVID-19: Why Education Matters
Since COVID-19 hit the United States, more than 20 million American workers have become unemployed and countless others have left the labor force altogether. While the labor market disruptions have affected workers in a wide set of industries and occupations, those without a college degree have experienced the most severe impact. Addressing gaps in educational attainment will be important to creating better economic resiliency for individuals against future shocks.
Permanent and Transitory Effects of the 2008–09 Recession
Separating U.S. economic output into permanent and transitory components can help explain the effects of recessions and expansions. GDP growth shifted to a lower trend rate in 2000, indicating a slowdown long before the 2008–09 recession. GDP was substantially above trend before that recession; it then declined significantly and did not recover to its trend rate until 2017. The recession resulted in permanent losses to GDP. Without those permanent effects, GDP at the end of the latest expansion would have been about $380 billion or $1,460 per person higher.
The Highs and Lows of Productivity Growth
Productivity growth shows evidence of switching between long periods of high and low average growth. Estimates suggest that the United States has been in the low-growth regime since 2004. Assuming this low growth continues, productivity growth in the year 2025 would be 0.6%. By dropping this assumption and allowing for a switch to consistent higher growth, an alternative estimate forecasts that the distribution of possible productivity growth across quarters could average about 1.1% in 2025.
Parents in a Pandemic Labor Market
Gender gaps in labor market outcomes during the pandemic are largely due to differences across parents: Employment and labor force participation fell much less for fathers as compared to women and non-parent men at the onset of the pandemic; the recovery has been more pronounced for men and women without children, and; the labor force participation rate of mothers has resumed declining following the start of the school year. The latter is partially offset in states with limited school re-openings. Evidence suggests flexibility in setting work schedules offsets some of the adverse impact of ...
Replicating and Projecting the Path of COVID-19 with a Model-Implied Reproduction Number
We fit a simple epidemiology model to daily data on the number of currently-infected cases of COVID-19 in China, Italy, the United States, and Brazil. These four countries can be viewed as representing different stages, from late to early, of a COVID-19 epidemic cycle. We solve for a model-implied effective reproduction number Rt each day so that the model closely replicates the daily number of currently infected cases in each country. Using the model-implied time series of Rt, we construct a smoothed version of the in-sample trajectory which is used to project the future evolution of Rt and ...
Parental Participation in a Pandemic Labor Market
Gender gaps in labor market outcomes during the pandemic largely reflect differences in parents’ experiences. Labor force participation fell much less for fathers compared with other men and all women at the onset of the pandemic; the recovery has been more pronounced for men and women without children. Meanwhile, labor force participation among mothers declined with the start of the school year. Evidence suggests flexibility in setting work schedules can offset some of the adverse impact on mothers’ employment, while the ability to work from home does not.
The Economic Gains from Equity
How much is inequity costing us? Using a simple growth accounting framework we apply standard shift-share techniques to data from the Current Population Survey (1990-2019) to compute the aggregate economic costs of persistent educational and labor market disparities by gender and race. We find significant economic losses associated with these gaps. Building on this finding, we consider which disparities generate the largest costs, paying specific attention to differences in employment, hours worked, educational attainment, educational utilization, and occupational allocation. We also examine ...