The Risk of Working Part-time Involuntarily

Abstract This column presents findings indicating that, though longstanding, involuntary part-time work is an important phenomenon that remains largely overlooked. In the U.S. labor market, the number of workers who experience involuntary part-time work is large, and increases dra- matically in recessions. Since no public insurance hedges workers against this risk, its impact on workers’ […]

The Labor Market Conditions Index: Use With Care

I was curious to see how the press would report on the Federal Reserve Board’s new Labor Market Conditions Index.  My prior was that the reporting should be confusing at best.  My favorite so far is from Reuters, via the WSJ: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has cited the new index as a broader gauge of employment conditions than the unemployment […]

Fed Watch: Forward Guidance Heading for a Change

The lackluster August employment report clearly defied expectations (including my own) for a strong number to round out the generally positive pattern of recent data.  That said, one number does not make a trend, and the monthly change in nonfarm payrolls is notoriously volatile.  The underlying pattern of improvement remains in tact, and thus the […]

A Surprisingly Weak Payrolls Report For August

Ouch! That stings. The private sector created substantially fewer jobs in August than expected, according to this morning’s monthly update from the US Labor Department. Private payrolls increased 134,000 last month, far below the consensus forecast that anticipated a gain of 220,000, according to’s estimate. Even worse, the August rise is the weakest so far this […]

Back to School—And to Widening Inequality

American kids are getting ready to head back to school. But the schools they’re heading back to differ dramatically by family income. Which helps explain the growing achievement gap between lower and higher-income children. Thirty years ago, the average gap on SAT-type tests between children of families in the richest 10 percent and bottom 10 percent […]

U.S. Labor Force: Where Have All the Workers Gone?

By Ravi Balakrishnan: (Version in Español) It’s not supposed to be this way. As the U.S. economy recovers, hirings increase and people are encouraged to look for jobs again. Instead, the ratio of the adult population with jobs, or looking for one—what’s called the labor force participation rate—has been falling, standing at 62.9 percent in July 2014 (Figure 1). […]

Congress’s Job Training Overhaul: A Modest Step in the Right Direction

This is a guest post by Robert Maxim, research associate, competitiveness and foreign policy, for the Council on Foreign Relations studies program. Any bill that receives the support of both Ted Cruz and Harry Reid is notable in its own right. When that bill takes steps to streamline the complex web of U.S. worker training […]

Imminent Wage Increases in Sight for U.S. Workers?

How tight is the labor market? A recent article summarizes the argument that wage pressures are building. From K. Madigan in WSJ Real Time Economics: Economists now are debating whether the Fed has set its Nairu sights too low. And they point to two reports out Tuesday as proof. The first report was the small business survey done […]

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