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
Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession Timothy Smeeding

Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession

Author: Timothy Smeeding
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Depression is often cast as the beginning of the end for the late Gilded Age. Because it brought on the institutional reforms of the New Deal, it led to dramatic reductions in income inequality and set the stage for a long period of comparatively low inequality. The purpose of this recession brief is to ask whether the Great Recession, like the Great Depression, is likewise shaping up as a compressive event that will reverse some of the run-up in inequality of the so-called New Gilded Age. This question can be taken on by examining recent and long-term trends in wealth inequality, income inequality, median incomes, and debt.

The Labor Force and the Great Recession Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth

The Labor Force and the Great Recession

Author: Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Recession and the slow recovery since have been the longest economic slump in seventy years. It affected vulnerable populations more than others. In this brief, our aim is to put this disaster into historical context, looking first at the overall state of the labor market and then at how the economic harm has been distributed across the population by gender, level of education, and race and ethnicity.

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.

Crime and the Great Recession Christopher Uggen

Crime and the Great Recession

Author: Christopher Uggen
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation and Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 10/2012

Common sense tells us that crime should increase during hard times. After all, more than 90 percent of the serious "index" crimes reported each year in the government's Uniform Crime Reports involve some kind of financial remuneration. And we've all seen examples of people taking desperate actions when they are cold, broke, and hungry, whether through real-life, firsthand observations or through fictional characters like Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. Yet there is much evidence that crime rates and economic indicators often diverge.

labor markets - CPI Affiliates

Arne L. Kalleberg's picture Arne L. Kalleberg Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology; Adjunct Professor of Management, Kenan-Flager School of Business; Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Global Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina
Charles Halaby's picture Charles Halaby Martindale Bascom Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Research Director of General Education Assessment
University of Wisconsin-Madison
David H. Autor Ford Professor of Economics, Director of National Bureau of Economic Research Disability Research Center; Co-director of the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pages

Labor Markets - Other Research

Title Author Media
Consumption and Income Poverty over the Business Cycle Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan

Consumption and Income Poverty over the Business Cycle

Author: Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan
Publisher: Research in Labor Economics
Date: 01/2011

We examine the relationship between the business cycle and poverty for the period from 1960 to 2008 using income data from the Current Population Survey and consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This new evidence on the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and poverty is of particular interest given recent changes in anti-poverty policies that have placed greater emphasis on participation in the labor market and in-kind transfers. We look beyond official poverty, examining alternative income poverty and consumption poverty, which have conceptual and empirical advantages as measures of the well-being of the poor. We find that both income and consumption poverty are sensitive to macroeconomic conditions. A one percentage point increase in unemployment is associated with an increase in the after-tax income poverty rate of 0.9 to 1.1 percentage points in the long-run, and an increase in the consumption poverty rate of 0.3 to 1.2 percentage points in the long-run. The evidence on whether income is more responsive to the business cycle than consumption is mixed. Income poverty does appear to be more responsive using national level variation, but consumption poverty is often more responsive to unemployment when using regional variation. Low percentiles of both income and consumption are sensitive to macroeconomic conditions, and in most cases low percentiles of income appear to be more responsive than low percentiles of consumption.

The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 Paul Krugman

The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008

Author: Paul Krugman
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Date: 12/2008

Labor Markets - Multimedia

Sorry, but no media items exist for this research group.