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
Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer

Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession

Author: S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The family is an important setting within which the Great Recession can exert its influence. Although the downturn directly affected many workers by reducing their earnings or forcing them into unemployment, it affected others indirectly by changing their living arrangements or family life. Further, the ways in which families are formed or broken up may be affected by the Great Recession, as it can alter the perceived costs and benefits of various family-relevant behaviors. Amid the turmoil and economic upheaval in the wider economy, individuals and families go about their lives, deciding to get married, suffering through breakups and divorces, planning families, and sorting out their living arrangements. The recession could have major effects on all of these family processes.

Health, Mental Health, and the Great Recession Sarah Burgard

Health, Mental Health, and the Great Recession

Author: Sarah Burgard
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 10/2012

Are we experiencing a "health recession"? While many think the impacts of the Great Recession are mostly confined to the labor and housing markets, the recession may also have taken a toll on health and wellbeing. In assessing such health impacts, it's important to distinguish between direct and indirect effects, the former pertaining to the health of those who are directly impacted by recession-induced negative events, such as unemployment, and the latter pertaining to the more diffuse behavioral changes that a recession may bring about among the general population. For example, the recession might reduce the amount of discretionary driving (to save on fuel costs), with the indirect result being fewer accidents.

Housing and the Great Recession Ingrid Gould Ellen, Samuel Dastrup

Housing and the Great Recession

Author: Ingrid Gould Ellen, Samuel Dastrup
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The story of the Great Recession cannot be told without addressing housing and, in particular, the dramatic decline in housing prices that began in late 2006. A distinctive feature of the Great Recession is its intimate connection to the housing sector; indeed many would argue that the Great Recession was triggered by the widespread failure of risky mortgage products. Whatever the sources of the Great Recession may have been, the housing sector is still deeply troubled and is a key contributor to our ongoing economic duress. This recession brief lays out the main features of the downturn in the housing sector.

Immigration and the Great Recession Douglas S. Massey

Immigration and the Great Recession

Author: Douglas S. Massey
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

Immigration has been a major component of demographic change in the United States over the past several decades, constituting at least a third of U.S. population growth and up to a half of labor force growth in any given year. By any standard, it is a central feature of the nation’s political economy and thus especially important to monitor as the Great Recession plays out. This brief reviews levels and patterns of immigration to the United States over the past three decades, with a particular focus on their implications for the nation as it recovers from the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

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.

labor markets - CPI Affiliates

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
Robert H. Topel's picture Robert H. Topel Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Professor in Urban and Labor Economics; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
The University of Chicago

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

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