Age and education effects on the unemployment rate
The national unemployment rate fell slowly during the first half of 2005, reaching 5.0% in June. While this is above the lows reached in 1999-2000, it is noticeably below the rates that largely prevailed during the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. This Economic Letter focuses on two demographic factors that help explain the reduction in the unemployment rate over the past few decades. The first is the composition of the population by age group, and, in particular, the contribution of the aging of the "baby boom" generation to the long-term decline in the unemployment rate. The second is ...
Recent layoffs in a fragile labor market
Rising layoff rates during the spring of 2011 highlight renewed labor market weakness. Although job cuts among state and local governments have accelerated over the past few years, most of the recent increase occurred among private-sector employers. Following modest improvement in early summer, subsequent labor market performance has been uneven, indicating that labor market conditions remain fragile.
Inequality and poverty in the United States: the effects of changing family behavior and rising wage dispersion
The trend toward increasing inequality in family income in the United States since the late 1960s is well documented. Among key possible explanations for this increase are rising dispersion in individual earnings, changes in female labor supply decisions, and changes in family composition and living arrangements. We analyze the contribution of these factors to changes in family income inequality and poverty during the years 1969-1998, focusing on labor supply and family structure as behavioral changes but accounting also for changes in the distribution of male earnings. Our analyses rely on ...
Has job security in the U.S. declined?
Sectoral reallocation and unemployment
This Economic Letter examines whether the reallocation of labor demand across industry sectors has caused the noninflationary rate of unemployment to rise of late.
Involuntary part-time work: here to stay?
The incidence of involuntary part-time work surged during the Great Recession and has stayed unusually high during the recovery. This may reflect more labor market slack than is captured by the unemployment rate alone. Analysis across states and over time indicates that a substantial part of the increase is related to the business cycle. However, structural factors such as changes in industry composition, population demographics, and labor costs have also contributed. This suggests that involuntary part-time work may remain significantly above its pre-recession level as the labor market ...
Searching for Maximum Employment
How well the economy is progressing toward the Federal Reserve’s goal of maximum employment is reflected in a range of indicators that evolve over time. Beyond the unemployment rate, two key metrics of labor market health are the labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio. The aging of the population is reducing the levels of both measures, implying that they are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic highs. However, these two indicators remain well below their demographic trends, and analysis suggests that they will not recover to trend until 2024.
Computer use and the U.S. wage distribution, 1984-2003
Given past estimates of wage increases associated with workplace computer use and higher usage rates among more skilled workers, the diffusion of computers has been interpreted as a mechanism for skill-biased technological change and consequent widening of the earnings distribution. I investigate this link by testing for direct effects of rising computer use on the distribution of wages in the United States. Analysis of data from the periodic CPS computer use supplements over the years 1984-2003 reveals that the positive association between workplace computer use and wages declines at higher ...
Why has the U.S. Beveridge curve shifted back? new evidence using regional data
The Beveridge curve depicts the empirical relationship between job vacancies and unemployment, which in turn reflects the underlying efficiency of the job matching process. Previous analyses of the Beveridge curve suggested deterioration in match efficiency during the 1970s and early 1980s, followed by improved match efficiency beginning in the late 1980s. This paper combines aggregate and regional data on job vacancies and unemployment to estimate the U.S. aggregate and regional Beveridge curves, focusing on the period 1976-2005. Using new data on job vacancies from the U.S. Bureau of Labor ...
The costs and value of new medical technologies: symposium summary
Health care is among the most technologically advanced sectors, and it also constitutes a large and growing share of the U.S. economy. Between 1960 and 2005, the share of health-care spending in U.S. gross domestic product more than tripled, growing from 5.2% to 16%; this growth is likely to continue, with health care conceivably expanding to encompass up to one-third of national output by the year 2050. ; This Economic Letter summarizes the presentations made at a symposium by the same title sponsored by the Center for the Study of Innovation and Productivity and held at the Federal Reserve ...