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
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.

The Social Safety Net and the Great Recession Robert A. Moffitt

The Social Safety Net and the Great Recession

Author: Robert A. Moffitt
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

As the economic downturn wears on, the debate about U.S. spending on the safety net has become increasingly rancorous. Indeed, former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich famously referred to Barack Obama as "the food stamp president" in the early-2012 campaign trail. The purpose of this recession brief is to step back from the rancor and describe in straightforward fashion how spending on the safety net has responded to the Great Recession.

Charitable Giving and the Great Recession Rob Reich, Christopher Wimer

Charitable Giving and the Great Recession

Author: Rob Reich, Christopher Wimer
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

Americans have long been, and continue to be, a famously charitable people. Whereas Europeans have well-developed and comprehensive welfare states, the United States has always relied more on private charity to support a multitude of causes, including aid and assistance to the poor.

Consumption and the Great Recession Luigi Pistaferri, Ivaylo Petev

Consumption and the Great Recession

Author: Luigi Pistaferri, Ivaylo Petev
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The particular trauma of severe downturns is that declining consumer spending, itself a reaction to the economy's contraction, also undermines the prospects for recovery. Consumption is, in other words, a fundamental determinant of business cycles - a kind of litmus test of economic health. But it's not just an important determinant of future economic performance. We also look to consumption as an omnibus measure of the set of socioeconomic conditions that underlie consumer behavior, such as job opportunities, price fluctuations, access to credit, and financial security. In this recession brief, we offer an interpretation of recent consumption data in order to determine the extent of the economic damage and its unequal distribution across the American populace.

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.

labor markets - CPI Affiliates

Julie E. Brines Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Washington
Kevin Lang's picture Kevin Lang Professor of Economics; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
Boston University
Kevin T. Leicht's picture Kevin T. Leicht Sociology Department Head of Sociology; Professor of LAS Global Studies
The University of Iowa

Pages

Labor Markets - Other Research

Title Author Media
The Great Recession and State Criminal Justice Policy: Do Economic Hard Times Matter? Peter K. Enns, Delphia Shanks-Booth

The Great Recession and State Criminal Justice Policy: Do Economic Hard Times Matter?

Author: Peter K. Enns, Delphia Shanks-Booth
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 12/2015

It costs a lot to maintain the world's highest incarceration rate. Did the largest economic shock since the Great Depression influence criminal justice policy and resulting incarcerations?

The Great Recession and Mothers' Health Christopher Wimer

The Great Recession and Mothers' Health

Author: Christopher Wimer
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 10/2015

Given the now well known effects of the Great Recession on economic outcomes of individuals and families, researchers have turned to the question of how this major economic downturn affected domains of family life. In a recent paper, Janet Currie of Princeton University and Valentina Duque and Irwin Garfinkel of Columbia University study the health of young mothers in the context of the Great Recession. Two key findings emerged. First, increased unemployment was associated with worsened self-reported health status and increased smoking and drug use. Second, more disadvantaged mothers suffered the greatest effects for self-reported health, while more advantaged mothers sometimes showed improvements in their health and health behaviors in response to the recession.

The Great Recession and Fathers' Health Allison Corr

The Great Recession and Fathers' Health

Author: Allison Corr
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 10/2015

Economic recessions can have detrimental impacts on individual and family wellbeing. New research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Valentina Duque of Columbia University assesses how the Great Recession affected the health of fathers with young children. The analysis yields two main findings. First, high unemployment was associated with declines in physical health but little change in health-compromising behaviors. Second, changes in physical health were concentrated among fathers in the lower end and middle of the education distribution.

The Great Recession and Parents' Relationships Christopher Wimer

The Great Recession and Parents' Relationships

Author: Christopher Wimer
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 06/2015

Economic downturns are stressful experiences for those affected by them, as well as those connected to affected family members and loved ones. Did the recent Great Recession lead to significant changes in the relationships between parents of young children?

The Great Recession and the Private Safety Net Christopher Wimer

The Great Recession and the Private Safety Net

Author: Christopher Wimer
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 02/2015

In a recent paper, Princeton University’s Aaron Gottlieb and Columbia University’s Natasha Pilkauskas and Irwin Garfinkel provide some of the first insights into how families’ private safety nets responded to the Great Recession. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the authors investigate whether the Great Recession was associated with increased transfers to parents of young children by anyone other than the child’s father.

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