Measuring Labor-Force Participation and the Incidence and Duration of Unemployment
The underlying data from which the U.S. unemployment rate, labor-force participation rate, and duration of unemployment are calculated contain numerous internal contradictions. This paper catalogs these inconsistencies and proposes a reconciliation. We find that the usual statistics understate the unemployment rate and the labor-force participation rate by about two percentage points on average and that the bias in the latter has increased since the Great Recession. The BLS estimate of the average duration of unemployment overstates by 50% the true duration of uninterrupted spells of ...
Do consumers rely more heavily on credit cards while unemployed?
Leading up to the Great Recession, households increased their credit card debt by over 16 percent ($121 billion) during the five-year period from 2004 to 2009. The unemployment rate simultaneously began to rise in 2008, increasing from 5.0 percent in January 2008 to a high of 10.0 percent in October of 2009. During the recovery, from 2009 to 2014, credit card debt fell by more than 25 percent, as the unemployment rate returned to near prerecession levels. These coincident developments have led to speculation that consumers facing unemployment or job uncertainty may have increased their ...
Wage dynamics and labor market transitions: a reassessment through total income and “usual” wages
We present a simple on-the-job search model in which workers can receive shocks to their employer-specific c productivity match. Because the firm-specific match can vary, wages may increase or decrease over time at each employer. Therefore, for some workers, job-to-job transitions are a way to escape job situations that worsened over time. The contribution of our paper relies on our novel approach to identifying the presence of the shock to the match specific productivity. The presence two independent measures of workers compensation in our dataset of is crucial for our identification ...
Labor-Market Uncertainty and Portfolio Choice Puzzles
The standard theory of household-portfolio choice is hard to reconcile with the following facts: (i) Households hold a small amount of equity despite the higher average rate of return. (ii) The share of risky assets increases with the age of the household. (iii) The share of risky assets is disproportionately larger for richer households. We develop a life-cycle model with age-dependent unemployment risk and gradual learning about the income profile that can address all three puzzles. Young workers, on average asset poor, face larger labor-market uncertainty because of high unemployment risk ...
Internal Immigrant Mobility in the Early 20th Century: Experimental Evidence from Galveston Immigrants
Between 1907 and 1914, the ?Galveston Movement,? a philanthropic effort spearheaded by Jacob Schiff, fostered the immigration of approximately 10,000 Russian Jews through the Port of Galveston, Texas. Upon arrival, households were given train tickets to pre-selected locations west of the Mississippi River where a job awaited. Despite the program?s stated purpose to locate new Russian Jewish immigrants to the Western part of the U.S., we find that almost 90 percent of the prime age male participants ultimately moved east of the Mississippi, typically to large Northeastern and Midwestern ...
Residential Migration, Entry, and Exit as Seen Through the Lens of Credit Bureau Data
We analyze a large, nationally representative anonymized data set of consumers with a credit report from 2002 to 2010. This is a period that encompasses a boom and bust in consumer credit. Using census data, we classify consumers into four categories of relative neighborhood income and find that, over time, the number and proportion of consumers with a credit report fell in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and rose in higher-income neighborhoods. Population trends evident from census data explain only a portion of these changes in the location of the credit bureau population. In most ...
Assessing the Risk of Extreme Unemployment Outcomes
Although the unemployment rate is at a historically low level, many policymakers are nevertheless watching projections for the future unemployment rate closely to evaluate the risk of extreme outcomes. We assess the probabilities of extreme outcomes in the near and medium term and find that the risk of unexpectedly high unemployment three years in the future has declined from its Great Recession peak and remained low over the past three years.
Estimating the Trend Unemployment Rate in the Fourth Federal Reserve District
We estimate trend unemployment rates for Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia, states that span parts of the Fourth District of the Federal Reserve System. Our estimated unemployment rate trend for the District as a whole stood at 5.7 percent in 2020:Q1 compared to a 4.7 percent observed unemployment rate within the District, implying a tight labor market by historical standards.
Recent Employment Growth in Cities, Suburbs, and Rural Communities
This paper uses a comprehensive source of yearly data to study private-sector labor demand across US counties during the past five decades. Our focus is on how employment levels and earnings relate to population density—that is, how labor markets in rural areas, suburbs, and cities have fared relative to one another. Three broad lessons emerge. First, the longstanding suburbanization of employment and population in cities with very dense urban cores essentially stopped in the first decade of the 21st century. For cities with less dense cores, however, the decentralization of employment ...
How Large were the Effects of Emergency and Extended Benefits on Unemployment during the Great Recession and its Aftermath?
This paper presents estimates of the effect of unemployment benefit extensions during the Great Recession on unemployment and labor force participation. Unlike many recent studies of this subject, our estimates, following the work of Hagedorn, Karahan, Manovskii, and Mitman (2016), are inclusive of the effects of benefit extensions on employer, as well as, worker behavior. To identify the effect of benefit extensions, we use plausibly exogenous changes in the rules governing benefit extensions and their differential effects on the maximum duration of benefits across states. We find that the ...