Summaries of the Conference Presentations and Papers
Presenter: Ayşegül Şahin
"'Missing' Workers and 'Missing' Jobs Since the Pandemic," Bart Hobijn and Ayşegül Şahin
- From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to October 2022, payroll employment decreased by 5.8 million jobs relative to its pre-pandemic trend, and the labor force participation rate (LFPR) declined by 1.2 percentage points. Employment levels recovered relative to early 2020 but not necessarily relative to an estimated pre-pandemic trend.
- The view that the pandemic-induced decline in the LFPR caused the drop in job creation relies on the unrealistic assumption that the trend in pre-pandemic job growth would have continued. Furthermore, it ignores the fact that there has been a long-running decline in the LFPR.
- Even without monetary policy tightening, a declining LFPR trend will slow job growth due primarily to the lack of available workers.
Presenter: Courtney C. Coile
“Retirement during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Courtney C. Coile
- Excess retirements during the pandemic were concentrated among the oldest workers, those who are 70 or older.
- The changes to unemployment rates, stock prices, housing prices, and localized measures of COVID-19 risk do not explain pandemic-era excess retirements.
- The receipt of supplemental unemployment insurance payments increased the likelihood of retirement during the pandemic.
- Remote work opportunities reduced the likelihood of retirement during the pandemic.
Presenter: Giovanni Peri
“Changes in International Immigration and Internal Native Mobility after COVID-19 in the US,” Giovanni Peri and Reem Zaiour
- Immigration to the United States slowed significantly starting in 2019.
- Immigration trends differed across states, employment sectors, and education levels.
- California and Florida saw overall declines in immigration, while Texas experienced growth similar to the pre-pandemic trend.
- Immigration involving non-college-educated individuals declined significantly more than immigration involving those who are college educated.
- Foreign-born workers were more likely to work in sectors that initially were less amenable to remote work.
- Native workers’ mobility across states and across sectors has not responded significantly to the changed patterns of foreign-born immigration, which implies that any geographical or sectoral labor market mismatch might persist for some time.
- Immigration declines alone only minimally explain the increased job vacancy levels that, with the exception of a few sectors, are still observed in the United States. This suggests that other factors, such as changes in preferences, likely played a more prominent role in creating the recent labor supply shortages.
Presenter: Till Marco von Wachter
“Short-Time Compensation in the U.S. and California from 2000 to 2022: A Descriptive Analysis of Program Incidence and Worker Outcomes,” Gustavo Rodriguez, Kara Segal, and Till Marco von Wachter
- Short-time compensation (STC) programs, also known as work-sharing or shared-worked programs, allow firms to avoid layoffs by subsidizing reductions in working hours. These programs serve as an alternative to more traditional unemployment insurance (UI) programs and may better preserve worker-employer matches.
- Employees who are involved with STC programs appear to fare better than those in the general UI program.
- STC programs exist in many US states but are not widely used by employers, even though they could be beneficial to workers and firms.
Presenter: John C. Haltiwanger
“Surging Business Formation in the Pandemic: Causes and Consequences,” Ryan A. Decker and John C. Haltiwanger
- A sharp rise in business applications followed the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a net growth in establishments counts.
- Business formation seems to be part of a broader increase in reallocation, with many new businesses concentrated in industries oriented to the changes in work patterns and preferences induced by the pandemic.
- In terms of geography, many of these new establishments seem to be located in the outer rim of cities as opposed to in city centers.
- Excess labor market quits and separations might be related geographically to business formation.
Presenter: Lisa B. Kahn
“Where Have All the Workers Gone? Recalls, Retirements, and Reallocation in the COVID Recovery,” Eliza Forsythe, Lisa B. Kahn, Fabian Lange, and David G. Wiczer
- The labor market has remained tight throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and finding a job has been easier than it was during previous recoveries, because even when unemployment soared during the initial pandemic-related shutdowns, many workers were on temporary layoffs and not actively seeking jobs.
- The pandemic was not the large labor market reallocation shock that many expected, and any initial misalignment due to COVID-19 has largely been undone. As of spring 2022, the rate of worker reallocation across industries was back to normal levels, and the labor market overall looks like it did before the pandemic.
- The high level of job vacancies seems to be the result of a lack of labor supply rather excess labor demand. Shortfalls in employment in certain sectors of the economy reflect worker choices.
- Movement out of low-skilled service jobs and toward higher-paying professions has increased, as excess retirements appear to have allowed some low-skill workers to move up the job ladder.