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

State of the States: Labor Markets

Author: Michael Hout, Erin Cumberworth
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 09/2015

The Great Recession spread to every state, though employment fell more in some states than in others. The ongoing increases in the total number of jobs and ongoing declines in the official unemployment rate disguise a very slow recovery in prime-age (25-54) employment.

Not Enough Work: Access to Full-Time Jobs with Decent Pay and Benefits Varies by Race/Ethnicity and Place of Residence Marybeth J. Mattingly, Justin R. Young

Not Enough Work: Access to Full-Time Jobs with Decent Pay and Benefits Varies by Race/Ethnicity and Place of Residence

Author: Marybeth J. Mattingly, Justin R. Young
Publisher: National Agricultural & Rural Development Policy Center
Date: 12/2014

In this brief, we consider differences across rural and urban America in each of these measures, given the very different economic conditions that prevail in rural America, where higher paying jobs and those with employer-provided health insurance areless common (McLaughlin and Coleman-Jensen 2008), nonstandard work is more ubiquitous (McCrate 2011), and the best-educated and young often move away (Carr and Kefalas 2010: Hollowing Out the Middle). Further, we break down these differences by both race and gender, as prior research suggests racial-ethnic differences in underemployment (Glauber 2013; Sum and Khatiwada 2010; Young2012), and we know from the literature that different factors mayinfluence women and men’s employment (see, for example, Hollister 2011). We use data from the 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey—the most currently available data for assessing labor force dynamics across the country in this way.

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.

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

Adina Sterling Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior
Stanford University
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
Gavin Wright's picture Gavin Wright William Robertson Coe Professor of American Economic History
Stanford University

Pages

Labor Markets - Other Research

Title Author Media
Women, Work, and Family Francine D. Blau, Anne E. Winkler

Women, Work, and Family

Author: Francine D. Blau, Anne E. Winkler
Publisher: NBER
Date: 08/2017

This chapter focuses on women, work, and family, with a particular focus on differences by educational attainment. First, we review long-term trends regarding family structure, participation in the labor market, and time spent in household production, including time with children. In looking at family, we focus on mothers with children. Next we examine key challenges faced by mothers as they seek to combine motherhood and paid work: workforce interruptions associated with childbearing, the impact of home and family responsibilities, and constraints posed by workplace culture. We also consider the role that gendered norms play in shaping outcomes for mothers. We conclude by discussing policies that have the potential to increase gender equality in the workplace and mitigate the considerable conflicts faced by many women as they seek to balance work and family.

Knowledge of Future Job Loss and Implications for Unemployment Insurance Nathaniel Hendren

Knowledge of Future Job Loss and Implications for Unemployment Insurance

Author: Nathaniel Hendren
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 07/2017

This paper studies the implications of individuals' knowledge of future job loss for the existence of an unemployment insurance (UI) market. Learning about job loss leads to consumption decreases and spousal labor supply increases. This suggests existing willingness to pay estimates for UI understate its value. But it yields new estimation methodologies that account for and exploit responses to learning about future job loss. Although the new willingness to pay estimates exceed previous estimates, I estimate much larger frictions imposed by private information. This suggests privately traded UI policies would be too adversely selected to be profitable, at any price.

Family Investments in Education during Periods of Economic Uncertainty: Evidence from the Great Recession Anna Lunn, Sabino Kornrich

Family Investments in Education during Periods of Economic Uncertainty: Evidence from the Great Recession

Author: Anna Lunn, Sabino Kornrich
Publisher: Sociological Perspectives
Date: 07/2017

At the beginning of the Great Recession, household spending on education across the income distribution was highly unequal. We examined how different income groups altered their spending on education for children under 18 during this economic crisis. As national and local economic conditions deteriorated during the recession, the difference in odds that a high-income household spent on education relative to a low-income family increased by 20 percent, and the difference in the amounts that high-income families spent on education relative to low-income families also increased by 20 percent. As state unemployment rates climbed and consumer confidence fell, high-income families’ educational spending increased relative to low-income families’ spending. Decreases in local housing prices were also associated with lower spending for low-income families. Given the importance of educational enrichment for children’s learning outcomes, increasing inequality in families’ educational investments during the Great Recession may contribute to future educational and social inequality.

Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession Antonina Pavlenko

Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession

Author: Antonina Pavlenko
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 09/2016

The study revealed that rapid increases in unemployment rates during the Great Recession were associated with increases in men's abusive behavior. This association persisted even after individual and household-level experiences with unemployment and material hardship were controlled for. The authors argue that these results indicate that economic uncertainty plays an important role in relationship dynamics, above and beyond its direct effects on job loss and material hardship. 

This brief was published as part of our Recession Trends initiative.

Car and Home Ownership Among Low-Income Families in the Great Recession Laurel Sariscsany

Car and Home Ownership Among Low-Income Families in the Great Recession

Author: Laurel Sariscsany
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 12/2015

In a recent paper, Columbia University's Valentina Duque, Natasha Pilkauskas, and Irwin Garkfinkel analyzed the association between the Great Recession and assets among families with children. The study revealed two key findings. First, the recession led to declines in home and car ownership among families of young children. And second, more vulnerable groups — single, cohabiting, Black, and Hispanic families — were most likely to feel these effects, with married or White mothers more likely to be protected.

Labor Markets - Multimedia

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