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U. S. regional business cycles and the natural rate of unemployment

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  • Howard J. Wall
  • Gylfi Zoega

Abstract

Estimates of the natural rate of unemployment are important in many macroeconomic models used by economists and policy advisors. This paper shows how such estimates might benefit from closer attention to regional developments. Regional business cycles do not move in lockstep and greater dispersion among regions can affect estimates of the natural rate of unemployment. There is microeconomic evidence that employers are more reluctant to cut wages than they are to raise them. Accordingly, this means that the relationship between wage inflation and vacancies is convex: an increase in vacancies raises wage inflation at an increasing rate. Our empirical results are consistent with this and indicate that if all else had remained constant, the reduction in the dispersion of regional unemployment rates between 1982 and 2000 would have meant a two-percentage point drop in the natural rate of aggregate unemployment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2003-030.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Publication status: Published in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, January/February 2004, 86(1), pp. 23-31
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2003-030

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Keywords: Unemployment ; Regional economics;

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  1. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1995. "Does Inflation 'Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market'?," Working Papers 735, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Laurence Ball & N Gregory Mankiw, 2002. "The NAIRU in Theory and Practice," Economics Working Paper Archive 475, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  3. Francesconi, Marco, et al, 2000. "Education and the Natural Rate of Unemployment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 204-23, January.
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  6. Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga, 1999. "Unemployment clusters across European regions and countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20211, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Phelps, Edmund S & Zoega, Gylfi, 1997. "The Rise and Downward Trend of the Natural Rate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 283-89, May.
  8. Michael T. Owyang & Howard J. Wall, 2004. "Structural breaks and regional disparities in the transmission of monetary policy," Working Papers 2003-008, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  9. Michael T. Owyang & Jeremy Piger & Howard J. Wall, 2005. "Business Cycle Phases in U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 604-616, November.
  10. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678.
  11. Abraham, Katharine G & Katz, Lawrence F, 1986. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 507-22, June.
  12. Hoon, Hian Teck & Phelps, Edmund S., 1997. "Growth, wealth and the natural rate: Is Europe's jobs crisis a growth crisis?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 549-557, April.
  13. Kenneth J. McLaughlin, 1999. "Are nominal wage changes skewed away from wage cuts?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 117-132.
  14. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number rome97-1.
  15. Brainard, S Lael & Cutler, David M, 1993. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 219-43, February.
  16. Douglas O. Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "How Precise Are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 195-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Gerald Carlino & Robert Defina, 1998. "The Differential Regional Effects Of Monetary Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 572-587, November.
  18. Fratantoni, Michael & Schuh, Scott, 2003. " Monetary Policy, Housing, and Heterogeneous Regional Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 557-89, August.
  19. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  20. Michael Woodford, 1994. "Structural Slumps," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1784-1815, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Vassilis Monastiriotis, 2008. "The Emergence of Regional Policy in Bulgaria: regional problems, EU influences and domestic constraints," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 15, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  2. Roberto Bande & Marika Karanassou, 2012. "The NRU and the Evolution of Regional Disparities in Spanish Unemployment," ERSA conference papers ersa12p640, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Luca Bindelli, 2005. "Systematic monetary policy and persistence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 05.07, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  4. Jürgen Kromphardt & Camille Logeay, 2007. "Changes in the Balance of Power Between the Wage and Price Setters and the Central Bank: Consequences for the Phillips Curve and the NAIRU," Kiel Working Papers 1354, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  5. Owyang, Michael T. & Rapach, David E. & Wall, Howard J., 2009. "States and the business cycle," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 181-194, March.
  6. Strauss, Jack, 2013. "Does housing drive state-level job growth? Building permits and consumer expectations forecast a state’s economic activity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 77-93.
  7. Hiroshi Fujiki & Howard J. Wall, 2006. "Controlling for geographic dispersion when estimating the Japanese Phillips curve," Working Papers 2006-057, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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