Advance Layoff Notices and Labor Market Forecasting
We collect rich establishment-level data about advance layoff notices filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act since January 1990. We present in-sample evidence that the number of workers affected by WARN notices leads state-level initial unemployment insurance claims, changes in the unemployment rate, and changes in private employment. The effects are strongest at the one and two-month horizons. After aggregating state-level information to a national-level “WARN factor” using a dynamic factor model, we find that the factor substantially improves ...
How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?
We study optimal unemployment insurance (UI) over the business cycle using a heterogeneous agent job search model with aggregate risk and incomplete markets. We validate the model-implied micro and macro labor market elasticities to changes in UI generosity against existing estimates, and provide an explanation for divergent empirical findings. We show that generating the observed demographic differences between UI recipients and non-recipients is critical in determining the magnitudes of these elasticities. We find that the optimal policy features countercyclical replacement rates with ...
Reservation Benefits: Assessing job acceptance impacts of increased UI payments
Job acceptance decisions weigh the value of an entire job spell relative to remaining unemployed. There exists a reservation level of beneﬁt payments in this dynamic decision problem at which an individual is indifferent between accepting and refusing an offer. This reservation beneﬁt is a simple statistic to test the job acceptance deterrence effects of current unemployment insurance (UI) payments, summarizing the decision problem conditional on the believed state of the labor market and the weeks of UI compensation remaining. Estimating the reservation beneﬁt for a wide range of US ...
Reconsidering the Consequences of Worker Displacements : Firm versus Worker Perspective
Prior literature has established that displaced workers suffer persistent earnings losses by following workers in administrative data after mass layoffs. This literature assumes that these are involuntary separations owing to economic distress. This paper examines this assumption by matching survey data on worker-supplied reasons for separations with administrative data. Workers exhibit substantially different earnings dynamics in mass layoffs depending on the reason for separation. Using a new methodology to account for the increased separation rates across all survey responses during a mass ...
A Quantitative Theory of Time-Consistent Unemployment Insurance
During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these increases. Because of the trade-off between insurance and job search incentives, the classic time-inconsistency problem arises. During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these extensions. Because of the trade-off between insurance and ...
Unemployment Insurance during a Pandemic
The CARES Act implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis dramatically increased the generosity of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, triggering concerns about substantial effects on unemployment. This paper combines a labor market search-matching model with the SIR-type infection dynamics to study the effects of the CARES Act UI on both unemployment and infection. More generous UI policies create work disincentives and lead to higher unemployment but also reduce infection and save lives. Economic shutdown policies further amplify these effects of UI policies. Quantitatively, the CARES ...
Changes in State Unemployment Insurance Rules during the COVID-19 Outbreak in the U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented expansion in unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility across states. While more than forty states had modified UI rules by the end of March, not all states responded in the same way. In this article, I summarize the changes to state UI rules in response to the crisis and explore factors that have contributed to the variation in states’ responses.
On the Distribution of the Welfare Losses of Large Recessions
How big are the welfare losses from severe economic downturns, such as the U.S. Great Recession? How are those losses distributed across the population? In this paper we answer these questions using a canonical business cycle model featuring household income and wealth heterogeneity that matches micro data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). We document how these losses are distributed across households and how they are affected by social insurance policies. We find that the welfare cost of losing one?s job in a severe recession ranges from 2% of lifetime consumption for the ...
Reconciling Unemployment Claims with Job Losses in the First Months of the COVID-19 Crisis
In the spring of 2020, many observers relied heavily on weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) to estimate contemporaneous reductions in US employment induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though UI claims provided a timely, high-frequency window into mounting layoffs, the cumulative volume of initial claims filed through the May reference week substantially exceeded realized reductions in payroll employment and likely contributed to the historically large discrepancy between consensus expectations of further April-to-May job losses and the strong job gains reflected in ...
Universal Basic Income versus Unemployment Insurance
In this paper we compare the welfare effects of unemployment insurance (UI) with an universal basic income (UBI) system in an economy with idiosyncratic shocks to employment. Both policies provide a safety net in the face of idiosyncratic shocks. While the unemployment insurance program should do a better job at protecting the unemployed, it suffers from moral hazard and substantial monitoring costs, which may threaten its usefulness. The universal basic income, which is simpler to manage and immune to moral hazard, may represent an interesting alternative in this context. We work within a ...