Puerto Rico's Shrinking Labor Force Participation
A key concern about Puerto Rico?s prospects is that its labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the adult population either working or looking for work, has fallen sharply. Looking at the data shows that this decline cannot be attributed to any particular demographic segment. Instead, it is the consequence of an aging population, accelerated by a falling birth rate and outmigration of a relatively young cohort. Expected demographic trends will continue to put downward pressure on the participation rate over the medium term, creating a challenging headwind for the economy to ...
Who is More Likely to Default on Student Loans?
This post seeks to understand how educational characteristics (school type and selectivity, graduation status, major) and family background relate to the incidence of student loan default. Student indebtedness has grown substantially, increasing by 170 percent between 2006 and 2016. In addition, the fraction of students who default on those loans has grown considerably. Of students who left college in 2010 and 2011, 28 percent defaulted on their student loans within five years, compared with 19 percent of those who left school in 2005 and 2006. Since defaulting on student loans can have ...
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.
The Changing Role of Community-College and For-Profit-College Borrowers in the Student Loan Market
In the first post in this series, we characterized the rapid transformation of the higher education market over the 2000-2015 period, a transformation that was led by explosive growth of the for-profit sector of higher education. In the second post, we found that most of this growth was driven by nontraditional students entering these institutions. Given this growth and the marked change in student composition, it is important to understand what impact these patterns might have on student loan originations, student loan volume, and the borrower pool in the various sectors of higher education. ...
Diplomas to Doorsteps: Education, Student Debt, and Homeownership
Evidence overwhelmingly shows that the average earnings premium to having a college education is high and has risen over the past several decades, in part because of a decline in real average earnings for those without a college degree. In addition to high private returns, there are substantial social returns to having a well-educated citizenry and workforce. A new development that may have important longer-term implications for education investment and for the broader economy is a significant change in the financing of higher education. State funding has declined markedly over the past two ...
Labor Force Exits Are Complicating Unemployment Rate Forecasts
What will the unemployment rate be in 2013? Even if you were certain how much the U.S. economy (gross domestic product, or GDP) would grow over the next year or two, it would still be difficult to forecast the unemployment rate over that period. The link between GDP growth and unemployment is complex in part because it depends on how many people decide to work or look for work?that is, the labor force participation rate. In this post, we discuss the recent steep decline in the labor force participation rate and explain how uncertainty regarding the future path of that variable contributes to ...
Gender roles and medical progress
Maternal mortality was the second-leading cause of death for women in childbearing years up until the mid-1930s in the United States. For each death, twenty times as many mothers were estimated to suffer pregnancy-related conditions, often leading to severe and prolonged disablement. Poor maternal health made it particularly hard for mothers to engage in market work. Between 1930 and 1960, there was a remarkable reduction in maternal mortality and morbidity, thanks to medical advances. We argue that these medical advances, by enabling women to reconcile work and motherhood, were essential for ...
How Have the Euro Area and U.S. Labor Market Recoveries Differed?
The initial phase of the pandemic saw the euro area and U.S unemployment rates behave quite differently, with the rate for the United States rising much more dramatically than the euro area rate. Two years on, the rates for both regions are back near pre-pandemic levels. A key difference, though, is that U.S. employment levels were down by 3.0 million jobs in 2021:Q4 relative to pre-pandemic levels, while the number of euro area jobs was up 600,000. A look at employment by industry shows that both regions had large shortfalls in the accommodation and food services industries, as expected. A ...
The Changing Face of the Higher Education Market
The higher education landscape changed drastically over the last decade and a half. This evolution was largely characterized by the unprecedented growth of the private for-profit sector. In this post, we examine whether the evolution of the higher education market was associated with changes in the types of students who attended the institutions in various sectors of the market. Was the growth in enrollment spurred by an increased entry of traditional students? Or was it driven by an inflow of nontraditional students? Has student composition in higher education changed differentially between ...
The Reluctance of Firms to Interview the Long-Term Unemployed
Estimates from the Current Population Survey show that the probability of finding a job declines the longer one is unemployed. Is this due to a loss of skills from being unemployed, employer discrimination against the long-term unemployed, or are there characteristics of workers in this segment of the workforce that lower their probability of finding a job? Studies that send out fictitious resumes find that employers do consider the length of unemployment in deciding whom to interview. Our recent work examines how such employer screening based on unemployment duration ultimately affects ...