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Despite the consistent pattern of modest jobs growth over the last several years, the nation’s goal of a full recovery from the Great Recession remains elusive. One factor contributing to this outcome is an unclear definition of what “recovery” means, as policymakers have suggested a wide variety of economic goals. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs the economy would have to add to offset the effects of the Great Recession, which we offer as a useful target for economic recovery. The analysis discusses how changes in population and labor-force participation rates will affect the time it takes to close the gap and how we measure progress toward our economic recovery.
The Hamilton Project examines how future immigration trends could impact American wages, using targets set in the recently-passed Senate bill as a signpost. Understanding that S.744 is just the first piece of legislation out of the gate, the new analysis suggests that the average impact of new immigrants on the wages of U.S.-born workers would be positive (based on CBO estimates, the analysis assumes approximately 9.6 million additional immigrants by 2013 due to the legislation). The analysis also suggests that American workers are likely to gain through other channels, based on evidence that immigrants enhance purchasing power of consumers, increase demand for goods and services at businesses, and contribute to innovation that boost living standards over time.
Despite the positive return to higher education, many Americans are concerned about their ability to pay for college, and there is increasing focus on the rising burden of student loans on recent graduates. Although average net tuition—the actual cost to students after grant aid, scholarships, and other financial aid—has increased somewhat over the last two decades, the volume of student debt has increased far more dramatically, as has the default rate on student loans. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines possible explanations for the recent increases in student debt and default rates.
In this set of economic facts, The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between growing income inequality and social mobility in America. The memo explores the growing gap in educational opportunities and outcomes for students based on family income and the great potential of education to increase upward mobility for all Americans.
The role of education in improving social mobility is well-known, and new evidence identifies promising ways to help more low-income students improve their educational opportunities. The Hamilton Project compares a range of interventions aimed at boosting college attendance and completion among low-income students.
In recent years there has been increasing concern about students who begin two- and four-year college programs but fail to complete a degree—particularly in light of the large increase in student debt and concerns about the high costs of college. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines whether starting college is worth it for students who fail to complete a degree. The findings show that students who complete “some college” earn about $100,000 more throughout their lifetime than their peers with only a high school education, and the rate of return to their investment exceeds the historical return on practically any conventional investment, including stocks, bonds, and real estate.
Following the last five recessions in U.S. history, the economy added government jobs—an average of 1.7 million, in fact—that helped spur our economic recovery. In contrast, during our recovery from the Great Recession, the economy has shed more than 500,000 government jobs. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the trajectory of public-sector employment since the Great Recession. The findings show that if the policy response to this recession had been similar to the response after other recent recessions, the economy would have about 2.2 million more jobs today.
There is significant pressure facing policymakers at all levels of government to fund programs that provide the best results for the best value. Worker training programs provide one example of where better use of evidence could dramatically improve outcomes for many Americans. The Hamilton Project explores how the use of evidence and data could help workers determine which training programs can most effectively help them find employment and increase their earnings.
In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project looks at current poverty trends in the United States, the important role of government support programs, and how sequestration could remove critical aspects of the safety net in the midst of continued labor-market weakness. The Project finds sequestration could throw many American families back into poverty during this sensitive period of economic recovery by cutting the very programs that are helping them stay above water.
On February 26th, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum featuring a diverse group of experts from around the country who discussed 13 targeted policy proposals that were released that day on reforming entitlement spending, tax reform, and how to create new sources of revenue and efficiency. The proposals provide specific strategies on how lawmakers can address many different areas of the budget, and address options to reduce both mandatory and discretionary spending.
Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney preview The Project’s forthcoming budget report, which includes fifteen pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals to reduce the deficit and achieve broad-based economic benefits.
In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a “Fix-it-First” approach to investing in our nation’s ailing infrastructure. This approach recognizes the value of the well-traveled network of roads and bridges that make up our nation’s existing highway system, and prioritizes the maintenance and rehabilitation of our deteriorating system. In “Fix It First, Expand It Second, Reward It Third: A New Strategy for America’s Highways," a paper commissioned by The Hamilton Project at Brookings, authors Matthew Kahn and David Levinson argue that the repair, maintenance, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and enhancement of our existing roads and bridges is the best way to maximize the benefits of infrastructure spending. When first constructed decades ago, the interstate highway system led to economic gains by connecting people and businesses. The full benefits of that system has eroded as roads and bridges have deteriorated, contributing to congestion, longer travel times, increased wear and tear on vehicles, and even accidents. A fix-it-first approach would recoup the value we’re missing from using our current system inefficiently.