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 ...
Measuring International Uncertainty : The Case of Korea
We leverage a data rich environment to construct and study a measure of macroeconomic uncertainty for the Korean economy. We provide several stylized facts about uncertainty in Korea from 1991M10-2016M5. We compare and contrast this measure of uncertainty with two other popular uncertainty proxies, financial and policy uncertainty proxies, as well as the U.S. measure constructed by Jurado et. al. (2015).
Why Has the US Economy Recovered So Consistently from Every Recession in the Past 70 Years?
It is a remarkable fact about the historical US business cycle that, after unemployment reached its peak in a recession, and a recovery began, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate was stable at around 0.55 percentage points per year. The economy seems to have had an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. There was high variation in monetary and fiscal policy, and in productivity and labor-force growth, but little variation in the rate of decline of unemployment. We explore models of the labor market's self-recovery that imply gradual working off of unemployment ...
Monetary Policy, Self-Fulfilling Expectations and the U.S. Business Cycle
I estimate a medium-scale New-Keynesian model and relax the conventional assumption that the central bank adopted an active monetary policy by pursuing inflation and output stability over the entire post-war period. Even after accounting for a rich structure, I find that monetary policy was passive prior to the Volcker disinflation. Sunspot shocks did not represent quantitatively relevant sources of volatility. By contrast, such passive interest rate policy accommodated fundamental productivity and cost shocks that de-anchored inflation expectations, propagated via self-fulfilling inflation ...
The Inexorable Recoveries of U.S. Unemployment
Unemployment recoveries in the US have been inexorable. Between 1949 and 2019, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate during cyclical recoveries was tightly distributed around 0.1 log points per year. The economy seems to have an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. Unless another crisis intervenes, unemployment continues to glide down to a level of approximately 3.5 percentage points. Occasionally unemployment rises rapidly during an economic crisis, while most the time, unemployment declines slowly and smoothly at a near-constant proportional rate. We show that ...
Discretionary Services Expenditures in This Business Cycle
The pronounced weakness in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services has been an unusual feature of the 2007-09 recession and the slow recovery from it. Even in 2010:Q4, when real PCE increased at a relatively robust 4.1 percent annual rate, real PCE on services rose at only a 1.4 percent rate. This weakness has been especially evident in “discretionary” services (to be defined below), which fell more in the recent recession than in previous recessions and since have rebounded more sluggishly. In this post, I suggest that the continued sluggishness in these expenditures lends a ...
Uncertainty and Labor Market Fluctuations
We investigate how a macroeconomic uncertainty shock affects the labor market. We focus on the uncertainty transmission mechanism, for which we employ a set of worker flow indicators in addition to labor stock variables. We incorporate common factors from such indicators into a framework that can simultaneously estimate historical macroeconomic uncertainty and its impacts on the macroeconomy and labor market. We find firms defer hiring as the real option value of waiting increases. Moreover, significantly more workers are laid off while voluntary quits drop, suggesting other mechanisms such ...
Mortgage Borrowing and the Boom-Bust Cycle in Consumption and Residential Investment
This paper studies the transmission of the major shocks in the U.S. housing market in the 2000s to consumption and residential investment. Using geographically disaggregated data, I show that residential investment is more responsive to these shocks than consumption, as measured by elasticities and the implied contributions to GDP growth. I develop a structural life-cycle model featuring multiple types of housing investment to understand the large responses of residential investment. Consistent with the microdata, the model generates lumpy debt accumulation, lumpy housing investment and a ...
The Unemployed with Jobs and without Jobs
Potential workers are classified as unemployed if they seek work but are not working. The unemployed population contains two groups---those with jobs and those without jobs. Those with jobs are on furlough or temporary layoff. This group expanded tremendously in April 2020. They wait out periods of non-work with the understanding that their jobs still exist and that they will be recalled. We show that the resulting temporary-layoff unemployment dissipates quickly following a spike. Potential workers without jobs constitute what we call jobless unemployment. Shocks that elevate jobless ...
Immigrants’ employment outcomes over the business cycle
Immigrants have figured prominently in U.S. economic growth for decades, but the recent recession hit them hard. Immigrants? labor market outcomes began deteriorating even before the recession was officially under way, largely as a result of the housing bust. An analysis of employment and unemployment rates over the past fifteen years shows that immigrants? labor market outcomes are more cyclical than those of natives. The greater cyclicality of immigrants? employment and unemployment is concentrated among less-educated immigrants, but college-educated immigrants nonetheless have ...