IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Jobless recoveries and the wait-and-see hypothesis


  • Stacey L. Schreft
  • Aarti Singh
  • Ashley Hodgson


In January 2005, after more than three years of sluggish employment growth, the U.S. economy finally recovered the jobs lost during the 2001 recession. Baffled by such a delayed rebound in payrolls, many speculated about the cause. Inevitably, observers compared the 2001 and 1991 recoveries, both widely considered to have been jobless. Schreft and Singh showed previously that one common feature of the first year of the jobless recoveries was the greater use of just-in-time employment practices. They also speculated that the greater availability of just-in-time employment practices contributed to the recoveries’ lack of job growth. This explanation of delayed hiring is termed the “wait-and-see hypothesis.” Flexible hiring practices allow firms to more easily adjust output in the short term without hiring full-time, potentially permanent workers. This practice is especially effective around the troughs of business cycles, when there is uncertainty about the strength of the recovery. As a result, firms are willing to wait to hire until they see sufficient improvement in business conditions to justify expanding payrolls. Schreft, Singh, and Hodgson take a longer-term perspective, considering the behavior of employment in the first three years of the jobless recoveries. They also describe how a wait-and-see approach to hiring can contribute to such recoveries

Suggested Citation

  • Stacey L. Schreft & Aarti Singh & Ashley Hodgson, 2005. "Jobless recoveries and the wait-and-see hypothesis," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 81-99.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2005:i:qiv:p:81-99:n:v.90no.4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Canova, Fabio, 1998. "Detrending and business cycle facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 475-512, May.
    2. Erica L. Groshen & Simon M. Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
    3. Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2005. "Employment growth and labor force participation: how many jobs are enough?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 1, pages 1-13.
    4. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    5. Mark E. Schweitzer, 2003. "Another jobless recovery?," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Mar.
    6. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    7. Wynne, Mark A. & Balke, Nathan S., 1992. "Are deep recessions followed by strong recoveries?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 183-189, June.
    8. Chamley, Christophe & Gale, Douglas, 1994. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1065-1085, September.
    9. C. Alan Garner, 2004. "Offshoring in the service sector : economic impact and policy issues," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 5-37.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Yang, Guanyi, 2017. "General Equilibrium Evaluation of Temporary Employment," MPRA Paper 80047, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kevin x.d. Huang & Jie Chen & Zhe Li & Jianfei Sun, 2014. "Financial Conditions and Slow Recoveries," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00004, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    3. Roger M. Gomis & Sameer Khatiwada, 2017. "Firm dynamics and business cycle: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?," IHEID Working Papers 03-2017, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    4. Ana gomez-Loscos & M. Dolores Gadea (Universidad de Zaragoza) & Gabriel Perez-Quiros (Bank of Spain), 2015. "Great Moderation and Great Recession. From plain sailing to stormy seas?," EcoMod2015 8267, EcoMod.
    5. Camacho, Maximo & Perez Quiros, Gabriel & Rodriguez Mendizabal, Hugo, 2011. "High-growth recoveries, inventories and the Great Moderation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1322-1339, August.
    6. Cristiano Cantore & Paul Levine & Giovanni Melina, 2014. "A Fiscal Stimulus and Jobless Recovery," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(3), pages 669-701, July.
    7. Gadea Rivas, Maria Dolores & Gómez Loscos, Ana & Pérez-Quirós, Gabriel, 2014. "The Two Greatest. Great Recession vs. Great Moderation," CEPR Discussion Papers 10092, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Yilmaz Akyüz, 2009. "Mananging Financial Instability: Why Prudence is not Enough?," Working Papers 86, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    9. Yilmaz Akyuz, 2008. "Managing Financial Instability in Emerging Markets: A Keynesian Perspective," Working Papers 2008/4, Turkish Economic Association.
    10. Jochen Hartwig, 2014. "Testing Okun’s law with Swiss industry data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(29), pages 3581-3590, October.
    11. Engemann, Kristie M. & Owyang, Michael T., 2010. "Whatever Happened To The Business Cycle? A Bayesian Analysis Of Jobless Recoveries," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(05), pages 709-726, November.
    12. Yılmaz AKYÜZ, 2004. "Managing financial instability and shocks," Iktisat Isletme ve Finans, Bilgesel Yayincilik, vol. 19(219), pages 5-17.
    13. Michalis Nikiforos, 2013. "Employment Recovery? after the Great Recession," Economics Policy Note Archive 13-03, Levy Economics Institute.
    14. Edward S. Knotek & Stephen J. Terry, 2009. "How will unemployment fare following the recession?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 5-33.
    15. Regis Barnichon, 2009. "Demand-driven job separation: reconciling search models with the ins and outs of unemployment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Bruno Dallago & Chiara Guglielmetti, 2011. "The Eurozone Crisis: Institutional Setting, Structural Vulnerability, and Policies," Openloc Working Papers 1112, Public policies and local development.

    More about this item




    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2005:i:qiv:p:81-99:n:v.90no.4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (LDayrit). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.