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Economic Commentary

Selected pieces from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland publication, Economic Commentary.
"Okun's Law is a statistical relationship between unemployment and real GDP growth that is widely used as a rule of thumb for assesing the unemployment rate - whaty it might be at a certain level or where it might be headed, for example. Unfortunately, the Okun's Law relationship is not stable over time, which makes it potentially misleading as a rule of thumb." (Read More)
"The last three U.S. recessions have been followed by “jobless recoveries.” The lack of robust job growth once GDP starts to pick up has a lot people asking if labor markets have changed in some fundamental way. I look at employment and unemployment growth in every recession since the 1950s and find that the current levels of these indicators can be explained by the severity of the Great Recession and the slow growth of GDP in the recovery" (Read More)
"Countries with very flexible institutions and labor market polices, like the U.S., experienced substantial increases in unemployment over the course of the Great Recession, while countries with relatively rigid institutions and strict labor market policies, such as France, fared better. However, this better short-term performance comes with a tradeoff: evidence suggests that flexible labor markets keep unemployment lower in the long run." (Read More)
Read the WSJ article on this work or the Liberty Street Economics blog post on this subject.
"Unemployment has remained very high since the end of last recession, leading some economists to suggest that the underlying trend of the unemployment rate must have risen, driving unemployment permanently higher. Using a more accurate method of calculating the underlying trend, I find that the long-term rate has not risen and that most of the recent increase in the unemployment rate can be attributed to cyclical causes. But the weak nature of the recovery in real output and the slow rate of worker reallocation are likely to keep unemployment at relatively high levels for the near term." (Read More)
"The past recession has hit the labor market especially hard, and economists are wondering whether some fundamentals of the market have changed because of that blow. Many are suggesting that the natural rate of long-term unemployment—the level of unemployment an economy can’t go below—has shifted permanently higher. We use a new measure that is based on the rates at which workers are finding and losing jobs and which provides a more accurate assessment of the natural rate. We find that the natural rate of unemployment has indeed shifted higher—but much less so than has been suggested. Surprising trends in both the job-finding and job-separation rates explain much about the current state of the unemployment rate." (Read More)
Read the post on Economist's View on this Commentary.
"Recent recessions have been followed by exceptionally slow recoveries in the labor market, and the current recession is shaping up to follow the same pattern. We take a close look at some labor market measures and uncover a difference between these recent recessions and those that preceded them—workers are staying unemployed longer. This difference is a clue we can use to predict how the current labor market recovery might proceed in the near future." (Read More)
"Can two countries, or two different states, with similar technologies, resources, and policies exhibit differences in labor market performance? In contrast to a commonly held view, the answer is yes under some conditions that we review in this Commentary. If these conditions are satisfied, the unemployment rate and the production of an economy can fluctuate even in the absence of shocks. Moreover, government intervention can be useful provided that it coordinates the economy on the preferred outcome." (Read More)
"New models of unemployment show that there are some cases in which a minimum wage can have positive effects on employment and social welfare. The effects depend ultimately on the prevailing market wage and the frictions in the market. Evidence to date does not support the view that raising the minimum wage will lead to positive employment effects" (Read More)