Recently in labor economics Category

Ryan Decker is a former BYU student who worked for Kerk Phillips and me. He is now a PhD student at the University of Maryland and is on the research staff of the Center for Economic Studies at the Census Bureau. He posted this very interesting picture.

If you look at new firms, they are adding the most workers and shedding the least. But that is by definition. What is interesting is that it is the middle aged firms (Age 4) and the old firms (16+ years) that have been the source of the vast majority of the job losses over the last 5 years and in every economic downturn in the labor market back to 1988.
Here is a great little ESPN piece in which Hall of Fame quarterback, Steve Young, describes the NFL referees lockout persisting because of "inelastic demand" for the NFL product. The only explanation for this level of economic analysis is that Steve is a BYU alum (and has a law degree).

An interesting article on robotics today and trends for the future.  My introductory economics class this semester will have writing assignment that are partly graded by machine.

Skilled Work, Without the Worker
- August 18, 2012

Minimum Wages

from Tuesday's Deseret News

The current federal minimum wage is seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour.  For an employee working 40 hours per week for 52 weeks that amounts to an annual before-tax income of  $15,080.  By comparison the official poverty level for a family of two is $15,130 or $23,050 for a family of four.  The minimum wage does not support a high standard of living by any stretch of the imagination.  However, just imagine how bad things would be for workers without the minimum wage.

Why Jobs are Important

from Today's Deseret News:

The U.S. job market is showing signs of improvement if the latest data are accurate.  On Friday the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate has fallen to a three-year low of 8.5%.  Of particular note is that private sector employment was up more than expected in December.  Tall of this could just be a one-month data fluke, but it is also encouraging that the number of new jobless claims has been declining recently as well.

Jason sent me the great interactive graphic below from the folks at the New York Times (April 7, 2009). It shows the amount and countries of origin of foreign-born workers in the United States. Note that the top five sources of immigrant employment in the U.S., in descending order, are Mexico, Philippines, India, China, and El Salvador. We have over 5 million workers from Mexico, but the second-place country--the Philippines--was the source of only about 850,000. U.S. Immigration is truly only about Mexico.

NYTimmigrjobs2009-11.pngThe data come from the most recent survey of the Census Bureau's American Community Survey via the Minnesota Population Center. For a link to other great graphics see, "Perfecting the visual presentation of information."

Dan Hamermesh is currently visiting BYU as an invited seminar speaker. I was showing him my picture of the normalized peak plot of employment in the last 14 recessions, and he told me about another labor fact from this recession that astounded me. Look at the picture below of average duration of unemployment in the U.S. since 1947. The average unemployment duration for everyone who said they were unemployed in August 2009 was 25 weeks (nearly 6 months). Compare that to the average of about 15 weeks between 1976 and 1992. This is the 60-year record in the U.S.


American Time Use Breakdown

Score another one for the New York Times interactive graphics department. [Thanks to Jason for bringing this to my attention.] They wrote a cool little article highlighting the differences between how the unemployed and employed use their time in a given day using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for 2008, which includes data from our current recession. The best part is the interactive graphic (shown below) that allows you to see what percentage of people in the given classification are doing each different activity each minute of the average day.

A great animated map on the employment situation, from Slate.

Thanks to Bart-man for the link.

Unemployment in China

As I wrapped up a chapter on labor markets today, a student asked what the labor market in China was like.  I couldn't give her precise numbers regarding the unemployment rate, so had to look back on some work that students of mine did last semester when they wrote about the macroeconomic experiences of different countries.  Here is a graph of the official rate of unemployment in China:


Japanese corporate fertility policy

One of my former students sent me this CNN piece about Japanese corporations incentivizing fertility by making their employees go home early from work two days a week. I have a few comments and questions about this article that I'll put in writing below, and a lot more that I will leave to imagination.

Market Timing

I was pretty inactive here from mid December-early January.  During this time I was preparing for and attending the annual ASSA meetings, where many first-round interviews for economics PhDs are held.  

The following chart highlights my amazing ability to time the market.  The shaded areas represent NBER recessions, the first vertical red line is the date I graduated from college, the second is the date that I completed graduate school.