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Rising tide in the labor market: to what degree do expansions benefit the disadvantaged?

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  • Katharine L. Bradbury
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    Abstract

    The current U.S. economic expansion is unusually long and strong. Has it served as a "rising tide" to float all boats in the labor market benefiting everyone? To what degree are groups that are typically disadvantaged in the labor market-blacks, women, teens, the less educated-participating in the current prosperity? To investigate the effects of economic expansion (or recession) on various labor market groups, this article presents data that describe the patterns of labor force status by race, sex, education, and age (teens) during recent decades. ; The author finds that while virtually all groups are seeing improvements in labor market outcomes in the current expansion, the gaps between disadvantaged groups and the rest of the economy are shrinking more in some cases than in others. Moreover, even the strong and long expansion of the 1990s has not reduced the gaps to zero. She finds that the analogy with the tide breaks down when one asks whether a strong economy raises all boats to the same level; disadvantaged groups still have above-average unemployment (and black men have below-average employment rates) in the best of times. The ongoing problem is that the status of being left out or slower-gaining remains disproportionately concentrated among blacks and teens, where the gaps remain sizable.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal New England Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2000)
    Issue (Month): May ()
    Pages: 3-33

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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:2000:i:may:p:3-33

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    Keywords: Labor market ; Employment (Economic theory) ; Unemployment;

    References

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    1. Richard B. Freeman, 1973. "Changes in the Labor Market for Black Americans, 1948-72," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(1), pages 67-132.
    2. Fairlie, Robert W & Sundstrom, William A, 1997. "The Racial Unemployment Gap in Long-Run Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 306-10, May.
    3. Rob Valletta, 1999. "Recent research on job stability and security," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jul23.
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    7. William Poole & Howard J. Wall, 2000. "Price stability and the rising tide: how low inflation lifts all ships," The Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 4-9.
    8. Harry J. Holzer, 1994. "Black employment problems: New evidence, old questions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 699-722.
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    11. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen, 1986. "Unemployment in Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S121-69, Supplemen.
    12. Arthur M. Okun, 1973. "Upward Mobility in a High-Pressure Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(1), pages 207-262.
    13. R. Haveman & Schwabish J., . "Macroeconomic Performance and the Poverty Rate: A Return to Normalcy?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1187-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    14. Leslie S. Stratton, 1993. "Racial differences in men's unemployment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(3), pages 451-463, April.
    15. Mortensen, Dale T, 1970. "Job Search, the Duration of Unemployment, and the Phillips Curve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 847-62, December.
    16. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
    17. David R. Howell, 2002. "Increasing Earnings Inequality and Unemployment in Developed Countries: Markets, Institutions and the "Unified Theory"," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2002-01, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
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    Cited by:
    1. Wido Geis, 2010. "High Unemployment in Germany: Why do Foreigners Suffer Most?," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper Nr. 90, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

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