Massachusetts employment growth 1996–2006: effects of industry performance and industry composition
This brief examines the effects of industry performance and industry composition on overall changes in Massachusetts employment in the period 1996 to 2006. Through 2000, Massachusetts enjoyed strong economic expansion. Around the time of the nationwide recession of 2001, however, the Massachusetts economy experienced a relatively severe setback, and the state has yet to regain as many jobs in the ensuing expansion as it lost in the downturn. ; The study finds that Massachusetts industries generally experienced slower employment growth than their national counterparts in the early 2000s. The ...
Additional slack in the economy: the poor recovery in labor force participation during this business cycle
This public policy brief examines labor force participation rates in this recession and recovery and compares them with the cyclical patterns in earlier business cycles. Measured relative to the business cycle peak in March 2001, labor force participation rates almost four years later have not recovered as much as usual, and the discrepancies are large. ; Among age-by-sex groups, the participation shortfall is especially pronounced at young and prime ages: Only for men and women age 55 and older has participation risen more than is usual four years after the business cycle peak. ; The brief ...
Asymmetric responses to tax-induced changes in personal income: the 2013 payroll tax hike versus anticipated 2012 tax refunds
As part of the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition's free tax preparation service offered at the Boston Roxbury Resource Center between January and April 2013, 945 low-to-moderate income individuals were asked about payroll tax changes, financial planning, and their personal characteristics. Using these survey responses, the authors calculated how these individuals planned to respond to the payroll tax hike and their tax refund. The results show that their marginal propensity to consume (MPC) out of the tax refund is 30 percentage points lower than their spending reaction to the tax ...
A principal components approach to estimating labor market pressure and its implications for inflation
We build a summary measure of labor market pressure that captures the common movement among a variety of labor market series. Obtained as the labor market series? first principal component, this measure explains a large portion of the variability of the underlying series. For this reason, it is a good summary indicator of labor market pressure. We show that the unemployment rate gap has tracked this summary measure closely over the past 35 years. At times, however, the summary measure and the unemployment rate gap have sent somewhat different signals. In terms of relying on the principal ...
Cliff notes: the effects of the 2013 debt-ceiling crisis
We investigate the effects of the 2013 debt-ceiling crisis on the Treasury bill market and possible spillovers to the commercial paper market and money market funds. We also compare this experience with the prior debt-ceiling crisis in 2011. We find that the 2013 debt-ceiling crisis reduced the demand for Treasury bills that were scheduled to mature right after the debt-ceiling deadline, but not for longer-term Treasury bills. Accordingly, we see that a hump formed at the shorter end of the term structure of Treasury bill yields around the debt-ceiling deadline, with the term structure ...
Inflation targeting: central bank practice overseas
This policy brief, which is based on an internal memo, summarizes the institutional and operational features observed in the 27 countries that have gained experience with inflation targeting (IT). It finds considerable convergence in many IT practices across countries over the past 10 to 15 years but much variation in policymakers? choices concerning such key issues as how they treat the borders of the target range. On the whole, most IT banks have chosen to practice inflation targeting in a more flexible and, thus, resilient fashion than many analysts once feared?seemingly without much loss ...
The Michigan Surveys of Consumers and consumer spending
We provide summary measures for a broad set of questions from the Michigan Surveys of Consumers. These measures summarize consumers' attitudes and expectations with respect to income, wealth, prices, and interest rates. They contain information that goes beyond the information captured by the Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, which is constructed from five questions in the same survey. We show that the summary measures have some explanatory power for aggregate consumption behavior over the period from 1987 to the present, even when controlling for economic fundamentals. The explanatory ...
Do commodity price spikes cause long-term inflation?
This public policy brief examines the relationship between trend inflation and commodity price increases and finds that evidence from recent decades supports the notion that commodity price changes do not affect the long-run inflation rate. Evidence from earlier decades suggests that effects on inflation expectations and wages played a key role in whether commodity price movements altered trend inflation. This brief is based on a memo to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as background to a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.
Cyclical versus secular: decomposing the recent decline in U.S. labor force participation
Since the start of the Great Recession, one of the most striking developments in the U.S. labor market has been the pronounced decline in the labor force participation rate. The crucial issue in interpreting the decline in U.S. labor force participation is how much of the decline reflects cyclical factors and how much reflects more persistent developments such as the demographic effects of an aging population. We provide a decomposition of cyclical versus trend movements in the labor force participation rate, informed by the joint dynamics of this variable with the employment-to-population ...
What can we learn by disaggregating the unemployment-vacancy relationship?
This policy brief explores the nature of the recent change in the vacancy-unemployment relationship by disaggregating the data by industry, age, education, and duration of unemployment, and by examining blue- and white-collar groups separately.