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Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession

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  • Jesse Rothstein

Abstract

Nearly two years after the official end of the "Great Recession," the labor marketremains historically weak. One candidate explanation is supply-side effects driven bydramatic expansions of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit durations, to as many as 99 weeks. This paper investigates the effect of these UI extensions on job search and reemployment. I use the longitudinal structure of the Current Population Survey toconstruct unemployment exit hazards that vary across states, over time, and betweenindividuals with differing unemployment durations. I then use these hazards to explore a variety of comparisons intended to distinguish the effects of UI extensions from other determinants of employment outcomes. The various specifications yield quite similar results. UI extensions had significantbut small negative effects on the probability that the eligible unemployed would exitunemployment, concentrated among the long-term unemployed. The estimates implythat UI benefit extensions raised the unemployment rate in early 2011 by only about 0.1–0.5 percentage points, much less than is implied by previous analyses, with at least half of this effect attributable to reduced labor force exit among the unemployed rather than to the changes in reemployment rates that are of greater policy concern.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 43 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (Fall) ()
Pages: 143-213

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:43:y:2011:i:2011-02:p:143-213

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Keywords: unemployment; unemployment insurance; UI extensions; job search; great recession;

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References

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  1. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35596, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder & Shani Schechter, 2010. "What is behind the rise in long-term unemployment?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 28-51.
  3. Michael W. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2010. "The Labor Market in the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 15979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mark Duggan & Scott A. Imberman, 2009. "Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing? The Contribution of Population Characteristics, Economic Conditions, and Program Generosity," NBER Chapters, in: Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly, pages 337-379 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bhash Mazumder, 2011. "How did unemployment insurance extensions affect the unemployment rate in 2008–10?," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Apr.
  6. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
  7. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2007. "Cash-On-Hand and Competing Models of Intertemporal Behavior: New Evidence from the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1511-1560, November.
  8. Shigeru Fujita, 2010. "Economic effects of the unemployment insurance benefit," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q4, pages 20-27.
  9. David Card & Phillip B. Levine, 1998. "Extended Benefits and the Duration of UI Spells: Evidence from the New Jersey Extended Benefit Program," NBER Working Papers 6714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Greg Kaplan & Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2011. "Interstate migration has fallen less than you think: consequences of hot deck imputation in the Current Population Survey," Staff Report 458, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. David R. Howell & Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits and Work Incentives: The U.S. Labor Market in the Great Recession (revised)," Working Papers wp257_revised, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  12. Daly, Mary C. & Hobijn, Bart & Valletta, Robert G., 2011. "The Recent Evolution of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 5832, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Kroft, Kory & Notowidigdo, Matthew J., 2012. "Should Unemployment Insurance Vary with the Unemployment Rate? Theory and Evidence," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2012-26, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 29 Oct 2012.
  14. David Howell, Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits and Work Incentives: The U.S. Labor Market in the Great Recession," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2011-7, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
  15. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard vs. Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-83, June.
  17. Anderson, Patricia M & Meyer, Bruce D, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-37, August.
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