Publications on Labor force participation
Working Paper No. 915 | September 2018The Great Recession had a devastating impact on labor force participation and employment. This impact was not unlike other recessions, except in size. The recovery, however, has been unusual not so much for its sluggishness but for the unusual pattern of recovery in employment by race. The black employment–population ratio has increased since bottoming out in 2010, while the white employment–population ratio has remained flat. This paper examines trends in labor force participation and employment by race, sex, and age and determines that the explanation is a combination of an aging white population and an increase in labor force participation among younger black people. It estimates the likelihood of labor force participation and employment among young men and women to control for confounding factors (such as changes in educational characteristics) and decomposes the gaps among groups and the changes over time in labor force participation using a Oaxaca-Blinder-like technique for nonlinear estimations. Findings indicate that much smaller negative impacts of characteristics and greater returns to characteristics among young black men and women than among young white men and women explain the observed trends.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
One-Pager No. 53 | February 2017
Demographics or Lack of Jobs?
Aging demographics, “social shifts,” and other supply-side and institutional factors have commonly been blamed for the fall in the US labor force participation rate. However, depressed labor force participation for prime-age workers is likely due to a combination of insufficient aggregate demand, weak job creation, and stagnant wages—all of which have been persistent problems over the past three or four decades. Although insufficient aggregate demand is the main problem, general “Keynesian” pump priming is not the answer. Stimulus needs to take the form of targeted job creation to tighten labor markets for less-skilled workers.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Flavia Dantas L. Randall Wray
Public Policy Brief No. 142, 2017 | February 2017
Flavia Dantas and L. Randall Wray argue that the emerging conventional wisdom—that the US economy has reached full employment—is flawed. The unemployment rate is not providing an accurate picture of the health of the labor market, and the common narrative attributing shrinking labor force engagement to aging demographics is overstated. Instead, falling prime-age participation rates are the symptom of a structural inadequacy of aggregate demand—a problem of insufficient job creation and stagnant incomes that conventional public policy remedies have been unable to address. The solution to our long-running secular stagnation requires targeted, direct job creation for those at the bottom of the income scale.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Flavia Dantas L. Randall Wray
Policy Note 2015/7 | November 2015
Demographic Trends in US Labor Force Participation
US labor force participation has continued to fall in the wake of the Great Recession. Improvements in the US unemployment rate reflect the fact that more people are falling out of the labor force, not a stronger labor market. Controlling for changes in the demographic makeup of the workforce (i.e., gender, age, education, and race), Research Scholar Fernando Rios-Avila investigates trends in labor force participation across and within groups between 1989 and 2013. He finds that not all groups have lost ground equally, while participation rates for some groups have actually increased. Understanding these patterns in labor force participation is a necessary first step toward crafting effective policy responses.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 765 | May 2013Following the financial crisis of 2008, transition countries—the economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—experienced an increase in female labor force participation rates and a decrease in male labor force participation rates, in part because male-dominated sectors were hit the hardest. These developments have prompted many to argue that women have been spared the full-blown effects of the crisis. In this paper, we critically evaluate this claim by investigating the extent to which the increase in the female labor force participation rate may have reflected a distress labor supply response to the crisis. We use the data on the 28 countries of the transition region assessed in the 2010 Life in Transition Survey. We find the presence of the female added worker effect, driven by married 45- to 54-year-old women with no children in the household. This effect is the strongest among the region’s middle-income countries. Among men, a negative relationship between labor force participation and household-specific income shocks is indicated.
Unlike the differences in the response to household-specific income shocks, the labor supply response to a weaker macroeconomic environment is negative for both men and women—hinting at the presence of the “discouraged worker” effect, which cuts across gender lines. We conclude that the decrease in men’s labor force participation observed during this crisis is likely a combined result of the initial sectoral contraction and the subsequent impact of the discouraged worker effect. For women, on the other hand, the added worker effect appears to outweigh the discouraged worker effect, contributing to an increase in their labor force participation rate. Our findings highlight the presence of heterogeneity in the way in which household-specific shocks, as opposed to economy-wide conditions, affect both female and male labor force participation rates.
Simulations of Full-Time Employment and Household Work in the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico
Working Paper No. 727 | July 2012
The method for simulation of labor market participation used in the LIMTIP models for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. In each case, all eligible adults not working full-time were assigned full-time jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. The feasibility of assessing the quality of the simulations is discussed. For each simulation, the recipient group is compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production produced in the simulation. In each case, the simulations are of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.Download:Associated Programs:The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the EconomyAuthor(s):