Robert Hall, Marianna Kudlyak, 24 June 2020

The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to job loss of catastrophic proportions in the United States. This column looks at recoveries from recessions over past 70 years to assess how the US labour market might recover from this job loss of unprecedented magnitude. Remarkably consistent recoveries have occurred in the US after every recessionary shock that caused a spike in unemployment, and there are reasons to believe that the recovery from the current shock will be more rapid, because unemployment contains a much larger fraction of workers on temporary layoff than in previous recoveries. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the possible recovery rate.

Petr Sedláček, Vincent Sterk, 25 April 2020

Startups are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Introducing a ‘startup calculator’ that allows anyone to compute the aggregate employment losses under various economic scenarios, this column explores the effects of a decline in startup activity on aggregate employment. Job losses may be large and may last well beyond the pandemic itself.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Michael Weber, 14 April 2020

The Covid-19 crisis in the US and the policy responses have led to unprecedented numbers of initial claims for unemployment, but there are concerns that total job losses are being understated. This column uses a repeated large-scale survey of households in the Nielsen Homescan panel to show that job loss has been significantly greater than implied by new unemployment claims, with an estimated 20 million jobs lost by 8 April – far more than were lost over the entire Great Recession. Many of those who have lost their jobs are not actively looking to find new ones.

Patrick Bennett, Amine Ouazad, 29 October 2016

A substantial body of literature finds significant effects of unemployment rates on crime rates. However, relatively little is known about the direct impact of individual unemployment on individual crime. This column examines the effect of job displacement on crime using 15 years of Danish administrative data. Being subject to a sudden and unexpected mass-layoff is found to increase the probability that an individual commits a crime. However, the findings stress the importance of policies targeting education and income inequality in mitigating crime.

Andrew Foote, Michel Grosz, Ann Stevens, 17 November 2015

In light of the Great Recession, we continue to learn new ways in which economic downturns directly affect the labour market. This column suggests that following an adverse demand shock, individuals exit local labour markets primarily through migration, but that has become less prominent in the Great Recession. Faced with declining economic prospects, workers are becoming more likely to stay put, without re-entering the labour market. 

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