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Assessing the Change in Labor Market Conditions

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Abstract

This paper describes a dynamic factor model of 19 U.S. labor market indicators, covering the broad categories of unemployment and underemployment, employment, workweeks, wages, vacancies, hiring, layoffs, quits, and surveys of consumers' and businesses' perceptions. The resulting labor market conditions index (LMCI) is a useful tool for gauging the change in labor market conditions. In addition, the model provides a way to organize discussions of the signal value of different labor market indicators in situations when they might be sending diverse signals. The model takes the greatest signal from private payroll employment and the unemployment rate. Other influential indicators include the insured unemployment rate, consumers' perceptions of job availability, and help-wanted advertising. Through the lens of the LMCI, labor market conditions have improved at a moderate pace over the past several years, albeit with some notable variation along the way. In addition, from t he perspective of the model, the unemployment rate declined a bit faster over the past two years than was consistent with the other indicators.

Suggested Citation

  • Hess T. Chung & Bruce Fallick & Christopher J. Nekarda & David Ratner, 2014. "Assessing the Change in Labor Market Conditions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-109, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2014-109
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2013. "On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia & Small, David, 2008. "Nowcasting: The real-time informational content of macroeconomic data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 665-676, May.
    3. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John, 2012. "Labor market flows in the cross section and over time," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-18.
    4. Michelle L. Barnes & Ryan Chahrour & Giovanni P. Olivei & Gaoyan Tang, 2007. "A principal components approach to estimating labor market pressure and its implications for inflation," Public Policy Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    5. Stephanie Aaronson & Tomaz Cajner & Bruce Fallick & Felix Galbis-Reig & Christopher Smith & William Wascher, 2014. "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 197-275.
    6. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia & Small, David, 2005. "Nowcasting GDP and Inflation: The Real Time Informational Content of Macroeconomic Data Releases," CEPR Discussion Papers 5178, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Anne E. Polivka & Stephen M. Miller, 1998. "The CPS after the Redesign: Refocusing the Economic Lens," NBER Chapters, in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 249-289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Thomas J. Sargent & Christopher A. Sims, 1977. "Business cycle modeling without pretending to have too much a priori economic theory," Working Papers 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Barnichon, Regis, 2010. "Building a composite Help-Wanted Index," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 175-178, December.
    10. Craig S. Hakkio & Jonathan L. Willis, 2013. "Assessing labor market conditions: the level of activity and the speed of improvement," Macro Bulletin, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue july18, pages 1-2, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Champagne, Julien & Kurmann, André & Stewart, Jay, 2017. "Reconciling the divergence in aggregate U.S. wage series," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 27-41.
    2. Stephanie Aaronson & Tomaz Cajner & Bruce Fallick & Felix Galbis-Reig & Christopher Smith & William Wascher, 2014. "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 197-275.
    3. Albuquerque, Bruno & Baumann, Ursel, 2017. "Will US inflation awake from the dead? The role of slack and non-linearities in the Phillips curve," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 247-271.
    4. L. Ferrara. & G. Sestieri., 2014. "US labour market and monetary policy: current debates and challenges," Quarterly selection of articles - Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 36, pages 111-129, winter.
    5. Troy Gilchrist & Bart Hobijn, 2021. "The Divergent Signals about Labor Market Slack," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, vol. 2021(15), pages 01-06, June.
    6. Salamaliki, Paraskevi, 2019. "Assessing labor market conditions in Greece: a note," MPRA Paper 97559, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    LMCI; U.S. labor market; dynamic factor model; employment; unemployment rate;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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