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In recent years, the St. Louis economy has been seen as lackluster. But if you look beyond the headline measures of economic performance, such as unemployment rates and GDP, St. Louis may be doing better than it appears.
Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis periodically analyze national and local economic conditions. Their late summer report included findings on the Eighth District labor market, and GDP growth projections.
Economic conditions have improved at a modest pace since our previous report. Labor markets remain tight and employment was little changed. Reports on consumer spending improved, although reports from auto dealers remain mixed.
Wage inequality is a hot topic across the country, as municipalities debate whether to increase their minimum wage. In St. Louis, where the state legislature overturned the city’s recent increase to a $10 per hour minimum wage, the debate is particularly timely.
A recent Boston Fed working paper by Anat Bracha and Mary A. Burke titled “Who Counts as Employed? Informal Work, Employment Status, and Labor Market Slack” considers whether nonstandard work arrangements (aka the “Gig Economy”) are being accurately represented in the official BLS measures, and offers ways to improve their accuracy.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 209,000 in July with food services and drinking places, professional and business services, and healthcare seeing the largest sector gains. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.3 percent.
Long-term unemployment is often blamed on a mismatch between a worker’s skills and the skills demanded from a potential employer. However, in his working paper “Long-Term Unemployment: Attached and Mismatched?” David Wiczer introduced a model to measure how changes in specific industries affect unemployment for workers in those occupations.
Professionals build networks to enhance their careers, often with the goal of gaining better access to new job opportunities. These benefits seem obvious, but economic research can provide deeper insight into how a job seeker’s network affects the speed and quality of job offers.
U.S. national labor market has recovered from the effects of the 2007-2009
recession; however, despite the national labor market recovery, significant
regional variation remains. Recent
economic research highlights links between regional labor and housing markets.
unemployment (LTU) is defined as continuous unemployment for 6 months or more. Alexander
Monge-Naranjo and Faisal Sohail examined LTU for different age and gender
groups before and after the Great Recession.
Airline stock prices, changes to the c-suite for major carriers, and union negotiations are often featured in nightly business reports. The reason? The aviation industry is tied to many aspects of the overall economy, particularly employment and GDP.
Government subsidies for sports stadiums are a hot topic for cities with professional teams. Scott Wolla recently analyzed what economists have found when studying the economics of sports stadiums and discovered that most economists do not support subsidizing professional sports stadiums.
In this podcast, economist Max Dvorkin talks about his research into the impact of Chinese imports on U.S. jobs during the period 2000-07, a time when those imports were surging. In all, 800,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. were lost because of these imports, Dvorkin found. On the flip side, a like number of jobs were created in different sectors. In addition, the cheaper imports led to an increase in buying power of $260 a year on average for every American—for life, he calculated. Who won? Who lost? What’s left to learn? Listen to the 14-minute podcast.
The St. Louis Fed researches
many aspects of the economy, including labor markets.
An essay from 2014 showed that hours worked in the construction sector hadn’t recovered
from the Great Recession and was a main cause of slack in the overall labor
market. New data from FRED show that the construction sector may be rebounding.
Researchers at the Federal Reserve Banks in Philadelphia and Atlanta analyzed online job ads for 4 middle-skill occupations to determine what trends in college degree requests were present and to explore how characteristics of different metropolitan areas affected a prospective employer’s degree requests.
Job growth has been healthy for five years. However, many people still express concern over the health of the overall labor market. For example, Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, states that the “official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.” He proposes the Gallup Good Jobs rate as a better indicator of the health of the labor market. At the heart of Clifton and others’ concern is what the official unemployment rate actually measures and whether it is a reliable indicator.
March 10, 2017: The BLS reported that total nonfarm payroll
employment increased by 235,000 in February, with the largest gains in
construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and
mining. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 percent, but was down
from 4.9 percent in February 2016. The number of long-term unemployed
(those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.8 million.
The labor force participation rate also showed little change. The full
report is available here.
Feb. 3, 2017: The BLS reported that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 227,000 in January, with job gains in retail trade, construction, and financial activities. The number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27+ weeks) remained around 1.9 million. Since January 2016, that number has declined by 244,000. Labor force participation rose by 0.2% and total employment rose by 457,000 over the month. The full report is available here.
markets have improved since the Great Recession, but the average duration of
unemployment, which is an indicator of labor market health, remains high. Authors James Eubanks and David Wiczer set out to discovery why this is happening.
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