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Employment and the business cycle

  • Marcelle, Chauvet
  • Jeremy, Piger

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 has not only caused a large wealth loss, it was also followed by a sluggish subsequent recovery. Two years after officially emerging from the recession, the economy was still growing at a low pace and payroll employment was far from reaching its previous peak. However, assessment of the employment situation was markedly different across different series. The two most important employment series, payroll employment (ENAP) and civilian employment (TCE), have recently been displaying divergent patterns. This has been a source of great uncertainty regarding labor market conditions. This paper investigates the differences in the cyclical dynamics of these series and the implications for monitoring business cycle on a current basis. Univariate and multivariate Markov switching models are applied to revised and real time unrevised data. We find that the main differences across these series occur around recessions. The employment measures have diverged considerably around the last three recessions in 1990-1991, in 2001, and in 2007-2009, but especially during their subsequent recoveries. In particular, while the probabilities of recession for models that include ENAP depict jobless recoveries, the probabilities of recessions from models with TCE fall right around the trough of the last three recessions, as determined by the NBER. This significantly impacts the identification of turning points in multivariate models in sample and in recursive real time analysis, with models that use TCE being more accurate compared to the NBER dating, and delivering faster call of troughs in real time. Models that include ENAP series, on the other hand, yield delays in signaling business cycle troughs, especially the most recent ones.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 34103.

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Date of creation: 30 Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:34103
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  1. Tom Stark and Dean Croushore, 2001. "Forecasting with a Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 258, Society for Computational Economics.
  2. Mark W. Watson, 1992. "Business Cycle Durations and Postwar Stabilization of the U.S. Economy," NBER Working Papers 4005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marcelle Chauvet & James D. Hamilton, 2005. "Dating Business Cycle Turning Points," NBER Working Papers 11422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chauvet, Marcelle, 1998. "An Econometric Characterization of Business Cycle Dynamics with Factor Structure and Regime Switching," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 969-96, November.
  5. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Kitchen, John, 2003. "A Note on the Observed Downward Bias in Real-Time Estimates of Payroll Jobs Growth in Early Expansions," MPRA Paper 21070, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Kim, C-J., 1991. "Dynamic Linear Models with Markov-Switching," Papers 91-8, York (Canada) - Department of Economics.
  8. Gerhard Bry & Charlotte Boschan, 1971. "Foreword to "Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs"," NBER Chapters, in: Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs, pages -1 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Nicholas L. Haltom & Vanessa D. Mitchell & Ellis W. Tallman, 2005. "Payroll employment data: measuring the effects of annual benchmark revisions," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 1-23.
  10. Marcelle Chauvet & Jeremy M. Piger, 2003. "Identifying business cycle turning points in real time," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 47-61.
  11. Chauvet, Marcelle & Piger, Jeremy, 2008. "A Comparison of the Real-Time Performance of Business Cycle Dating Methods," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 42-49, January.
  12. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, 07.
  13. Gerhard Bry & Charlotte Boschan, 1971. "Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bry_71-1, 07.
  14. Chinhui Juhn & Simon Potter, 1999. "Explaining the recent divergence in payroll and household employment growth," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 5(Dec).
  15. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
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