Understanding the. Dr. Christopher Waller. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

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1 Understanding the Unemployment Picture Dr. Christopher Waller Senior Vice President and Director of fresearch Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

2 By David Andolfatto and Marcela Williams A Look at Unemployment Since the Great Recession Christopher Waller Senior Vice President and Director of fresearch Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

3 The Great Recession Labor markets have been ravaged by the worst U.S. economic crisis since the Great Depression. Over the course of 25 months approximately 8,838,000 Americans in the labor force lost their jobs. That amounts to a loss of 353,520 jobs each month (on average). 3

4 The Great Recession The unemployment rate doubled from January 2008 to October It went from 5% to more than 10%! Since October 2009 the unemployment rate has dropped a measly 1.1 percentage points (to 9.0%). 4

5 U.S. Private Payroll Employment: Largest monthly loss: 314,000 (once) Month-to-Month Change in Thousands, Seasonally Adjusted Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 5

6 U.S. Private Payroll Employment: Largest monthly loss: 350,000 (three times) Month-to-Month Change in Thousands, Seasonally Adjusted Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 6

7 U.S. Private Payroll Employment: Largest monthly loss: Average of 750,000 for 6 months!!! Month-to-Month Change in Thousands, Seasonally Adjusted Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 7

8 U.S. Private Payroll Employment Thousands 120, ,000 Job losses were much more severe in Great Recession 2001 Recession Peak: 111,681 Trough: 108, , , ,000 95, Recession Peak: 91,317 Trough: 89, Recession Peak: 115,610 Trough: ,772 90,000 85, Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 8

9 Unemployment Rate 1948-Present Percent, SA Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 9

10 Unemployment Rate Nation vs. District Percent, SA District has typically fared better than the nation 4 3 United States Eighth District Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 10

11 The unemployment rate is based on: 1. Surveys of fifty percent of households in each large 25% 25% 25% 25% city. 2. Reports of the number of people collecting unemployment benefits each month. 3. Surveys of a representative sampleofhouseholds each month. 4. Surveys of all households in the U.S. each month

12 Unemployment: Definition The unemployment rate is calculated using 60,000 household survey responses. Based on those responses each adult in each household is placed into one of three categories: 1. Employed: Those who worked as paid employees, worked in their own business, or worked as unpaid workers in a family member s business. 12

13 Unemployment: Definition 2. Unemployed: Those who were not employed, were available for work, and had tried to find employment during the previous four weeks. 3. Not in the labor force: Those who fit neither of the first two categories, such as a full-time student, homemaker, or retiree. A person who has given up looking for a job is counted as not being in the labor force. 13

14 Unemployment: Definition The labor force is the sum of the employed and unemployed Labor Force = Number of Employed + Number of Unemployed, 14

15 Unemployment: Definition The unemployment rate is the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed: Number of Unemployed Unemployment Rate = X 100 Labor Force 15

16 Unemployment: Definition The labor-force participation rate is the percentage of the adult population that is in the labor force: Labor Force Labor-Force Participation Rate = 100 Adult Population X 16

17 Labor-Force Participation Rate Percent, SA 68 Participation rate has fallen by roughly 2 percent Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 17

18 Employment-Population p Ratio Defined Another statistic that evaluates labor market performance is the Employment-Population Ratio. The ratio measures the proportion of the working-age population that is employed. Number Employed Employment-Population Ratio = 100 Adult Population X 18

19 Employment-Population p Ratio Percent, SA Ratio is at the lowest level since September Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 19

20 Unemployment Rate By Age Percent, SA 32 Younger members of the labor force have been hit hard 27 Total Years Old Years Old Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 20

21 Pre-event poll question How important do you think Pre poll differences question: across individuals in their The financial crisis led to the passage of sweeping legislation in June 2010 that overhauled levels of many education, aspects of training, our financial and regulatory skills system. are in As explaining a result of the current changes, how confident are you that levels the U.S. of can unemployment? avoid or at least lessen the impact of future shocks to our financial system? 100.0% 80.0% 70.0% 6.5% 6.5% Very important 90.0% 60.0% 50.0% Important 40.0% 30.0% 34.8% 31.3% 52.2% 33.7% Somewhat important 22.9% 20.0% 10.0% 00% 0.0% 1.2% Very confident Slightly more confident Neither more nor less confident 12.0% Slightly less confident Not important Not confident at all 21

22 Pre-event poll question Please provide your estimate of the unemployment rate among the following demographics: 90.0% 80.0% College 70.0% graduates Percent of respondents s 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% Less than 4 Between 4 Greater than 7 Greater than percent and 7 percent percent but 10 percent less than 10 percent High-school graduates Those who have not finished high school 22

23 Unemployment Rate By Education Percent, SA 18 Employment prospects for less educated are much worse Less Than High HihSh School ldil Diploma High School Graduate Bachelor Degree or Higher Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 23

24 Unemployment Rate By Education Less than a high school diploma High school diploma Some college, no degree Associate degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree Professional degree Each level of educational attainment lowers the average UR Unemployment rate in 2010 (%) Doctoral degree Average: 8.2% Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey. 24

25 Unemployment Duration Unemployment spells are much longer for many May 2007 October Weeks and Over, 17% Less than 5 Weeks, 36% 27 Weeks and Over, 42% Less than 5 Weeks, 19% 5-26 Weeks, 48% 5-26 Weeks, 38% Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 25

26 The government should drive the unemployment rate to zero. 1. Strongly agree 2. Agree 3. Disagree 4. Strongly gydisagree 0% 0% 0% 0%

27 Two Important Questions Why isn t the unemployment rate ever zero? Why doesn t government simply hire these workers and drive it to zero? 27

28 Labor Flows The labor market is a dynamic place it has many moving parts. Think of a river the water level appears to be unchanged from one day to the next. But the water you saw yesterday is gone and replaced by new water. The same holds for the labor market. 28

29 Labor Flows Employment, unemployment, and participation rates provide a brief snap shot of labor market activity. However, over a given time period workers will transition ii from one labor market category to another. Think of workers like water they flow from one category to another. 29

30 Labor Flows Employed Job Finding Job Separation Non-Participant Unemployed 30

31 Magnitude of Labor Flows Average monthly flows are huge relative to population 31

32 Labor Flows Demand side and supply side economic forces dictate worker flows: Demand side: Employers continuously destroy old jobs and create new ones. Post vacancies to find workers. Supply side: Workers switch jobs and change their labor market status due to various life events. 32

33 Pre-event poll question How important do you think Pre poll the question: availability of unemployment The financial crisis led to the passage of sweeping legislation in June 2010 that overhauled benefits many is aspects in explaining of our financial current regulatory levels system. of unemployment? As a result of the changes, how confident are you that the U.S. can avoid or at least lessen the impact of future shocks to our financial system? 100.0% 90.0% 80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 25.3% 20.9% Very important Important 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 27.5% 20.0% 10.0% 00% 0.0% 1.2% Very confident 31.3% 33.7% Slightly more confident 26.4% Neither more nor less confident Somewhat important 12.0% 22.9% Not important Slightly less confident Not confident at all 33

34 Beveridge Curve Job vacancy rates and unemployment vary over the business cycle. The relationship between these two variables is referred to as the Beveridge curve. A negative slope is the norm vacancies are high when unemployment is low and vice versa. 34

35 Beveridge Curve 4.0 Vacancy Rate, SA Percent Matching jobs with workers has become more difficult 3.5 Dec Nov September Recession Unemployment Rate, SA Percent Source: Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics/ Haver Analytics 35

36 How important do you think negative housing equity is in explaining the current level of worker mobility across state lines and high levels of unemployment? 1. Very important 2. Important 3. Somewhat important 4. Not important 0% 0% 0% 0%

37 Role of the Housing Collapse The collapse in housing displaced 1,954,000 construction workers. Prior to 2007, employment in the residential construction sector and peripheral industries grew dramatically. It will take time for those employees to shift to a different industry. The housing market also affects the mobility of workers and could impede labor relocation. 37

38 Construction Employment Indexed Value, Jan. 1996=100 Over a decade and a half of job growth has been lost Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/Haver Analytics. 38

39 Role of the Housing Collapse Juan Sanchez, a St. Louis Fed economist, points out that the 2 million jobs lost in construction is only the direct effect of the recession on one industry. Nearly 800,000 additional jobs were lost in other industries i that relied on construction. The decline in construction employment and its connected industries accounts for 40 percent of the total decline. 39

40 Pre-event poll question In general, how much do you think the Federal Reserve can do to affect the unemployment situation in the United States? 54% 5.4% 6.5% A great deal 25.0% 26.1% A moderate amount Only a little 37.0% It is beyond the Fed's control Unsure 40

41 Policy Options The Fed has lowered interest rates dramatically. Should encourage investment and consumption of big ticket items. This has not spurred businesses to hire more or consumers to spend more on durables and housing. Fiscal policy has lowered tax rates and spent a LOT of money to stimulate the economy. Again, this does not appear to have had much Again, this does not appear to have had much effect. 41

42 Reasons Firms are reluctant to hire due to: 1. Weak demand for their products and pessimism. 2. Legitimate concerns about policy uncertainty resulting from new regulations and political power struggles. Households are deleveraging and restraining consumption of durables. Housing was overbuilt no recovery in housing. 42

43 A Cautionary Tale: European Labor Markets Unemployment rates in the U.S. were higher than those in Europe prior to Oil shocks of 1970s drove up the unemployment rate in both areas. Europe created a very rigid labor market in response high firing costs and generous UI. 43

44 European Unemployment Rates Percent, SA United States European rates were comparable or smaller than U.S Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 44

45 European Unemployment Rates European rates were comparable or smaller than U.S. United States Germany 14 Percent, SA Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 45

46 European Unemployment Rates European rates were comparable or smaller than U.S. United States Germany France Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 46

47 European Unemployment Rates European rates were comparable or smaller than U.S. 14 Percent, SA United States Germany France Italy Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 47

48 European Unemployment Rates Percent, SA European rates were comparable or smaller than U.S. United States Germany France Italy United Kingdom Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 48

49 A Cautionary Tale: European Labor Markets U.S. unemployment rates declined after As a result of its labor market policies, Europe s did not. Is the U.S. labor market experiencing the same phenomena now? 49

50 European Unemployment Rates Unemployment rates become stuck at higher levels 14 Percent, SA United States Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 50

51 European Unemployment Rates Unemployment rates become stuck at higher levels United States Germany 14 Percent, SA Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 51

52 European Unemployment Rates Unemployment rates become stuck at higher levels United States Germany France Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 52

53 European Unemployment Rates Unemployment rates become stuck at higher levels 14 Percent, SA United States Germany France Italy Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 53

54 European Unemployment Rates Percent, SA Unemployment rates become stuck at higher levels United States Germany France Italy United Kingdom Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 54

55 Conclusion The Great Recession was very severe and the recovery has had high unemployment and a longer duration of unemployment. Jobs are opening up but hires are not being made. Employment has not responded to aggressive monetary and fiscal policies. Parallels with Europe raise the concern we are Parallels with Europe raise the concern we are headed for a long period of high unemployment. 55

56 Are you interested in attending future 1. Yes 2. No Dialogues with the Fed? 0% 0%

57 Please choose the 3 topics in which you would be most interested. 1. Dodd Frank Legislation 2. Structure and Functions of the Federal Reserve 3. History of the Fd Federal lreserve 4. Monetary Policy 5. Regional Topics 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

58 Question and Answer Session Please be sure to turn on your microphone when asking a question.

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