Labor Market Tightness across the United States since the Great Recession
Though labor market statistics are often reported and discussed at the national level, conditions can vary quite a bit across individual states. We explore differences in these conditions before and after the Great Recession using a ratio of the number of unemployed workers to job vacancies. We show that the intensity of the adverse effects of the recession and the strength of the recovery varied geographically at all points in the process. We also demonstrate that wage growth is delayed until the ratio of unemployed workers to job vacancies returns to prerecession levels.
The Unintended Consequences of Employer Credit Check Bans for Labor Markets
Over the last decade, 11 states have restricted employers? access to the credit reports of job applicants. We document a significant decline in county-level vacancies after these laws were enacted: Job postings fall by 5.5 percent in affected occupations relative to exempt occupations in the same county and the same occupation nationwide. Cross-sectional heterogeneity in the estimated effects suggests that employers use credit reports as signals: Vacancies fall more in counties with a large share of subprime residents, while they fall less in occupations with other commonly available signals.
Firms, Skills, and Wage Inequality
We present a model with search frictions and heterogeneous agents that allows us to decompose the overall increase in US wage inequality in the last 30 years into its within- and between-firm and skill components. We calibrate the model to evaluate how much of the overall rise in wage inequality and its components is explained by different channels. Output distribution per firm-skill pair more than accounts for the observed increase over this period. Parametric identification implies that the worker-specific component is responsible for 85 percent of this, compared to 15 percent that is ...
This time may not be that different: labor markets, the Great Recession and the (not so great) recovery
The last three U.S. recessions have been followed by ?jobless recoveries.? The lack of robust job growth once GDP starts to pick up has a lot people asking if labor markets have changed in some fundamental way. I look at employment and unemployment growth in every recession since the 1950s and find that the current levels of these indicators can be explained by the severity of the Great Recession and the slow growth of GDP in the recovery.
Diagnosing labor market search models: a multiple-shock approach
We construct a multiple shock, discrete time version of the Mortensen-Pissarides labor market search model to investigate the basic model?s well-known tendency to underpredict the volatility of key labor market variables. In addition to the standard labor productivity shock, we introduce shocks to matching effi ciency and job separation. We conduct two set of experiments. First, we estimate the joint probability distribution of shocks that simultaneously satisfy the observed data and the fi rst-order conditions of the multiple-shock model, and then simulate its properties. Although the ...
Search frictions and the labor wedge
This paper assesses whether labor market frictions, in the form of searching and matching, can help explain movements in the labor wedge--the gap between the marginal rate of substitution (MRS) and the marginal productivity of labor in a perfectly competitive business cycle model. Results suggest that those frictions are not able to explain fluctuations in the labor wedge, per se. However, the introduction of extensive and intensive margin shows that measuring the MRS in terms of total hours artificially introduces procyclicality in the MRS. When the MRS is correctly measured in terms of ...
Minimum Wage Increases and Vacancies
We estimate the impact of minimum-wage increases on the quantity of labor demanded as measured by firms’ vacancy postings. We use propriety, county-level vacancy data from the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online database. Our identification relies on the disproportionate effects of minimum-wage hikes on different occupations, as the wage distribution around the binding minimum wage differs by occupation. We find that minimum-wage increases during the 2005-2018 period have led to substantial declines in vacancy postings in at-risk occupations, occupations with a larger share of ...
The State of States’ Unemployment in the Fourth District
Unemployment rates vary across individual US states at any point in time and respond to business-cycle fluctuations differently. Evaluating what constitutes a ?normal? level for the unemployment rate at the state level is not easy, but it is an important issue for policymakers. We introduce a framework that enables us to calculate the normal unemployment rate for each of the four states in the Fourth District and compare that rate to the national normal rate. We conclude that these states and the District as a whole have very little labor market slack left from the Great Recession.
Challenges with Estimating U Star in Real Time
Although the concept of the natural rate of employment, NAIRU, or ?U star? is used to measure the amount of slack in the labor market, it is an unobservable quantity that must be estimated using data currently available. This Commentary investigates the degree to which our estimates of U star at various points in the current business cycle have changed as real-time data have been revised and as more data points have accumulated. I find that the availability of additional data has contributed to a significant change in our estimates of U star at earlier points in the business cycle, a result ...
What constitutes substantial employment gains in today’s labor market?
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has tied its asset purchases to a ?substantial improvement? in labor market conditions. While we don?t speculate on what the FOMC means by substantial improvement, we do explore the level of monthly job gains that would gradually deliver the underlying trend unemployment rate within a reasonable timeframe, under several plausible scenarios. We find that the path of monthly job gains, which is highly dependent on a few key parameters, is likely to be smaller than the path associated with previous recoveries.