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Unemployment-Insurance Taxes and Labor Demand: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Administrative Data

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  • Johnston, Andrew C.

    (University of California, Merced)

Abstract

To finance unemployment insurance, states raise payroll tax rates on employers who engage in layoffs. Tax rates are, therefore, highest for firms after downturns, potentially hampering labor-market recovery. Using full-population, administrative records from Florida, I estimate the effect of these tax increases on firm behavior leveraging a regression kink design in the tax schedule. Tax hikes reduce hiring and employment substantially, with no effect on layoffs or wages. The results imply unanticipated costs of the financing regime which reduce the optimal benefit by a quarter and account for twelve percent of the unemployment in the wake of the Great Recession.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnston, Andrew C., 2020. "Unemployment-Insurance Taxes and Labor Demand: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Administrative Data," IZA Discussion Papers 13117, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13117
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    Cited by:

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    2. Mark Duggan & Audrey Guo & Andrew C. Johnston, 2022. "Would Broadening the UI Tax Base Help Low-Income Workers?," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 112, pages 107-111, May.
    3. Albertini, Julien & Fairise, Xavier & Terriau, Anthony, 2023. "Unemployment insurance, recalls, and experience rating," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    4. Guo, Audrey, 2020. "The Effects of Unemployment Insurance Taxation on Multi-Establishment Firms," MPRA Paper 97919, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Nathaniel Hilger, 2017. "All Together Now: Leveraging Firms to Increase Worker Productivity Growth," NBER Working Papers 23905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Nynke de Groot & Pierre Koning, 2022. "A burden too big to bear? The effect of experience‐rated disability insurance premiums on firm bankruptcies and employment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 124(1), pages 214-242, January.
    7. Marta Lachowska & Isaac Sorkin & Stephen A. Woodbury, 2022. "Firms and Unemployment Insurance Take-up," NBER Working Papers 30266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Audrey Guo & Andrew C. Johnston, 2021. "The Finance of Unemployment Compensation and Its Consequences," Public Finance Review, , vol. 49(3), pages 392-434, May.
    9. Mark Duggan & Audrey Guo & Andrew C. Johnston, 2023. "Experience Rating as an Automatic Stabilizer," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 109-133.
    10. Kyyrä, Tomi & Tuomala, Juha, 2023. "The effects of employers’ disability and unemployment insurance costs on benefit inflows," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    11. Guo, Audrey & Johnston, Andrew C., 2020. "The Finance of Unemployment Compensation and its Consequence for the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 13330, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Marta Lachowska & Wayne Vroman & Stephen A. Woodbury, 2020. "Experience Rating and the Dynamics of Financing Unemployment Insurance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 73(3), pages 673-698, September.
    13. Zhao, Fang & Xu, Jiayi & Fang, Guanfu, 2022. "The heterogeneous effects of employment-based pension policies on employment: Evidence from urban China," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    14. Audrey Guo, 2023. "Payroll Tax Incidence: Evidence from Unemployment Insurance," Papers 2304.05605, arXiv.org.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    payroll taxes; unemployment insurance; recession;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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