Labor Markets

  • Michael Hout
  • Gregory Acs
  • David Card
  • Jesse Rothstein

Leaders: Gregory Acs, David Card, Michael Hout, Jesse Rothstein

The labor market was of course hit very heavily by the Great Recession, as evidenced by (a) the slow recovery of the unemployment rate, (b) and the even slower recovery of the long-term unemployment rate and the prime-age employment ratio (defined as the ratio of employed 25-54 year-olds to the population of that same age). This “jobs problem,” which is especially prominent among low-skill workers, has led to a sharp rise in the number of poor households without any working adults. It also underlies, in part, the sharp increase in the number of disability insurance claims and awards, which in turn has further reduced the supply of labor among low-skilled individuals.

If the first type of “jobs problem” is that there still are not enough of them, the second is that the jobs that are available do not always provide the requisite hours, wages, or security that are needed for a sure pathway out of poverty. As a result, low-skill individuals are not just working less but, even when they are working, there is no guarantee that their jobs will lift them and their families out of poverty. The Labor Markets RG is tasked with conducting research on these and related problems and exploiting administrative and other data to assess possible policy responses to them. We list below a few examples of the work being carried out in this group.

Long-run effects of work incentives: As nonworking poverty increases, the U.S. might well want to turn to new types of work incentive programs. Have these programs worked elsewhere?

Minimum wages and poverty: Throughout the west coast, there are a host of minimum wage “experiments” underway, experiments that have the potential to reset the low-wage labor market in quite fundamental ways. How are these experiments playing out?

Labor Markets - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Redesigning, Redefining Work Shelley J. Correll, Erin L. Kelly, Lindsey Trimble O’Connor, Joan C. Williams

Redesigning, Redefining Work

Author: Shelley J. Correll, Erin L. Kelly, Lindsey Trimble O’Connor, Joan C. Williams
Publisher: Work and Occupations
Date: 02/2014

The demands of today’s workplace—long hours, constant availability, self-sacrificial dedication—do not match the needs of today’s workforce, where workers struggle to reconcile competing caregiving and workplace demands. This mismatch has negative consequences for gender equality and workers’ health. Here, the authors put forth a call to action: to redesign work to better meet the needs of today’s workforce and to redefine successful work. The authors propose two avenues for future research to achieve these goals: research that (a) builds a more rigorous business case for work redesign/redefinition and (b) exposes the underlying gender and class dynamics of current work arrangements.

State of the Union: Labor Markets Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth

State of the Union: Labor Markets

Author: Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 01/2014

During the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, the "housing bubble" burst, the financial sector tumbled, banks stopped lending, construction workers lost their jobs, sales of building materials and appliances plummeted, tax revenues fell, and the downward spiral threatened to spin ever lower. But since the recovery began in the summer of 2009, employment has barely kept pace with population growth. The U.S. economy enters 2014 with 7 percent of the labor force unemployed and millions more out of the labor force.

Connecting At-Risk Youth to Promising Occupations M.C. Bradley, Jiffy Lansing, Matthew Stagner

Connecting At-Risk Youth to Promising Occupations

Author: M.C. Bradley, Jiffy Lansing, Matthew Stagner
Publisher: Mathematica Policy Research
Date: 01/2013
This brief provides information for programs and organizations that serve at-risk youth transitioning to adulthood. Part of the Administration for Children and Families’ Youth Demonstration Development issue brief series, it explores occupations in health care and construction that hold promise for a quick path to employment without extensive up-front education or training.
Political Attitudes, Public Opinion, and the Great Recession Lane Kenworthy, Lindsay A. Owens

Political Attitudes, Public Opinion, and the Great Recession

Author: Lane Kenworthy, Lindsay A. Owens
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

Has the Great Recession altered American views about business, finance, government, opportunity, inequality, and fairness? Has it changed the public's preferences regarding the appropriate role of government in regulating the economy and helping the less fortunate? Has it shifted political orientations or party allegiances? The purpose of this recession brief is to examine whether such opinions have changed during the Great Recession and prior recessions as much as it's often assumed.

Older Workers, Retirement, and the Great Recession Richard W. Johnson

Older Workers, Retirement, and the Great Recession

Author: Richard W. Johnson
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The workforce in the United States is becoming ever older. Because the number of older workers is growing, and because work is increasingly important to older adults, it is worth examining how older workers are faring in the Great Recession. This brief reports on employment, unemployment, and labor force participation among older workers since 2007, just before the labor market collapsed. It focuses on workers age 62 or older, nearly all of whom qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, an important safety net if laid off. However, it also examines outcomes for workers as young as age 50, whom employers appear somewhat reluctant to hire.

labor markets - CPI Affiliates

Marta Tienda's picture Marta Tienda Professor, Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies; Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs; Director, Program in Latino Studies
Princeton University
Martina Morris's picture Martina Morris Professor of Sociology and Statistics
University of Washington - Seattle
Mary C. Brinton Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology
Harvard University
Patricia A. Roos's picture Patricia A. Roos Professor of Sociology
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Peter Hedstrom's picture Peter Hedstrom Director, Institute for Analytical Sociology
Linköping University

Pages

Labor Markets - Other Research

Title Author Media
The Great Recession and High-Frequency Spanking Chloe Anderson, Christopher Wimer

The Great Recession and High-Frequency Spanking

Author: Chloe Anderson, Christopher Wimer
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 03/2014

In a new paper, the Columbia Population Research Center’s Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, William Schneider, and Jane Waldfogel offer new insight into the connection between economic distress and child well-being. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the authors investigate whether the Great Recession was associated with increased use of high-frequency maternal spanking, which previous studies have shown elevates the risk of child abuse.

Multiple Program Participation and the SNAP Program Robert A. Moffitt

Multiple Program Participation and the SNAP Program

Author: Robert A. Moffitt
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 02/2014

Receipt of benefits from other traditional transfer programs by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) families is common, with 76 percent of those families receiving at least one other major benefit of that type, excluding Medicaid, in 2008. However, over half of these only received one other benefit and only a very small fraction received more than two others. Over the long-term, multiple benefit receipt among SNAP families has been falling, a result of declines in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) caseload offsetting rises in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caseloads. Finally, this analysis shows that high marginal tax rates generated by multiple program receipt are relevant for only a small portion of the TANF caseload, namely, the portion of the caseload that is nondisabled, nonelderly, and have earnings in the phaseout regions of the programs where marginal tax rates are high. The vast majority of SNAP families are not affected and, indeed, most have sufficiently low earnings that they face negative cumulative marginal tax rates.

Public Transfers and Material Hardship in the Great Recession Christopher Wimer

Public Transfers and Material Hardship in the Great Recession

Author: Christopher Wimer
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 12/2013

In a new paper, the Columbia Population Research Center’s Natasha V. Pilkauskas, Janet M. Currie, and Irwin Garfinkel explore the material hardships experienced by disadvantaged families and how well government programs were able to staunch the bleeding. The results indicate that the recession did indeed lead to spikes in material hardships, but that things would have been quite a bit worse if not for the response of the social safety net.

State Fiscal Policy during the Great Recession Andrea Louise Campbell, Michael W. Sances

State Fiscal Policy during the Great Recession

Author: Andrea Louise Campbell, Michael W. Sances
Publisher:
Date: 11/2013

Plunging tax revenues and soaring social program demand during the Great Recession created state budget shortfalls of historic magnitude. After reviewing states’ aggregate reaction to the economic downturn, we conduct an original analysis of the recession’s budgetary impact on the states and their policy responses. Economic factors such as falling personal income and home values explain much of the variation in the recession’s impact. State budgeting rules and practices conditioned states’ experiences, but not always as intended: budget gaps were smaller in states with stricter balanced budget requirements, but larger in states with statutory spending limitations. Personal income tax increases were more likely in states with a Democratic legislature or greater public unionization rates, while midyear spending cuts were smaller in states with larger public sector unions. In sum, we find that while states’ objective economic situations determined the bulk of their responses to the Great Recession, political factors determined these responses’ shape and form.

Lost Generations? Wealth Among Young Americans Eugene Steuerle, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Sisi Zhang

Lost Generations? Wealth Among Young Americans

Author: Eugene Steuerle, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Sisi Zhang
Publisher: Urban Institute
Date: 03/2013

Despite the Great Recession and the fragile economic recovery, the wealth of Americans has grown significantly when a longer-term view is considered. Average household wealth approximately doubled from 1983 to 2010, and average incomes rose similarly. For many, the American dream of working hard, saving more, and becoming wealthier than one's parents holds true.

Labor Markets - Multimedia

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