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Economic Analysis:

Economic Analysis Oct 27, 2022

A Closer Look at a Hot Labor Market

In this economic analysis, we determine the degree to which firms that are looking to hire a significant number of workers can expand employment (a “hot” labor market) or cannot (a “tight” labor market). This analysis suggests that a high job opening-to-unemployment rate ratio overstates how hard it is for firms to hire and that the job openings-to-hires and job opening-to-net hires ratios are worthwhile additions to the list of indicators that assess the state of the labor market. 

Economic Analysis Apr 12, 2021

A Comparison of Renters and Homeowners in Recent Decades

Wendy Edelberg, Sara Estep, Stephanie Lu, and Emily Moss examine and offer new insights on the recent history of housing policy from the latter half of the 20th century to today, compare homeowner and renter experiences, and analyze housing assistance policies. The authors conclude that to increase housing stability, policymakers should improve housing policies to create better infrastructure and more-inclusive housing programs in addition to supplying additional funding.

Economic Analysis Jul 16, 2020

The Nature of Work after the COVID Crisis: Too Few Low-Wage Jobs

David Autor and Elisabeth Reynolds ask whether the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the conventional wisdom about automation and inequality in the United States over the past four decades. They make four projections about a rapidly automating post-COVID-19 economy: increasing telework, city de-densification, large-firm consolidation, and forced automation, all of which have significant, negative consequences for low wage workers and economic inequality. 

Economic Analysis Jul 16, 2020

The Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Labor Market Outcomes Across Groups and the Potential for Permanent Scarring

The economic damages of the COVID-19 pandemic are not being well captured by current labor market statistics that show both permanent damage to employment relationships and labor force attachment as well as a surge of workers who have experienced a temporary loss of work and income. In this essay, Betsey Stevenson of the University of Michigan explores the many ways the COVID-19 recession has affected the labor market, showing that the labor market effects have not been evenly borne across workers and that the scarring effects of this recession will likely lead to high long-term unemployment and weakened labor market attachment for years to come.   

Economic Analysis Oct 15, 2018

Work Requirements and Safety Net Programs

This paper characterizes the types of individuals who would face work requirements in SNAP and Medicaid, describes what their work experiences are over a two-year period, and identifies the reasons why they are not working if they experience a period of unemployment or labor force nonparticipation. The analysis concludes that proposed work requirements would put at risk access to food assistance and health care for millions who are working, trying to work, or face barriers to working. 

Economic Analysis Jul 9, 2018

Where Work Pays: How Does Where You Live Matter for Your Earnings?

Educational and occupational choices matter for your earnings, but where you work matters, too. Employment opportunities and wages in some occupations vary substantially from state to state, county to county, and city to city. One location might be a great place to earn a living as a nurse but not as a construction worker (e.g., New Orleans, Louisiana), while a different location might be the opposite (e.g., Utica, New York). In this economic analysis we look at some of the ways that typical earnings in an occupation—and the value of those earnings after adjusting for taxes and cost of living—vary across the United States. We also examine some of the reasons why places have such different labor markets.

Economic Analysis Nov 1, 2017

Lessons from the Rise of Women’s Labor Force Participation in Japan

After lagging behind U.S. women for more than forty years, Japanese prime-age women have now caught up and exceeded the U.S. rate of labor force participation. In this economic analysis, we seek to learn from a labor market that has been on an entirely different trajectory from that of the United States, and a country that has made women’s labor force participation a top macroeconomic priority.

Economic Analysis Aug 19, 2016

The Long-Term Impact of the Head Start Program

In this Economic Analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the impact of Head Start on a new set of long-term outcomes, extending landmark analyses further into adulthood and considering the effect of Head Start on participants’ children. The Hamilton Project finds that Head Start has a significant impact on its participants' educational outcomes, social and behavioral development, and parenting practices later in life.

Economic Analysis Jun 2, 2016

Where Does All the Money Go: Shifts in Household Spending Over the Past 30 Years

This economic analysis examines shifts in consumer spending patterns over the last thirty years, contrasting the experiences of low, middle, and high-income households. The analysis concludes that low-income households are spending a higher share of their budgets on basic needs—defined as the major budget components of housing, food, transportation, health care, and clothing—than they did three decades ago.

Economic Analysis Apr 29, 2016

Are Nutrition Policies Making Teenagers Hungry?

Households with teenagers report greater incidence of food insecurity than households with younger children. Yet for many teens, nutrition assistance programs such as School Lunch, School Breakfast, and SNAP are not providing enough calories to make it through the day. In a new economic analysis, The Hamilton Project explores how nutrition policies are leaving food insecure teenagers more vulnerable, and highlights policies to address this problem. 

Economic Analysis Feb 5, 2016

An Additional Measure of The Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap Analysis

This month The Hamilton Project introduces an additional methodology, in addition to our standard monthly “jobs gap” measure (which calculates the number of jobs needed to return to the pre-recession employment-to-population ratio). Specifically, we add a new jobs gap measure calculating the number of jobs needed to reach the pre-recession unemployment rate after allowing for demographic shifts and changes in labor force participation. This will enable our readers to see the contrast between the two methods of estimating the jobs gap.

Economic Analysis Apr 20, 2015

Profiles of Change: Employment, Earnings, and Occupations from 1990-2013

There has been tremendous focus in recent years on the plight of the typical American worker. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project takes a careful look at the data to examine what has been happening to America’s workers since 1990, paying particular interest to differences across workers with different levels of education. In addition, an accompanying interactive feature allows users to further explore these eight profiles by comparing employment, occupational, and earnings patterns between 1990 and 2013.

Economic Analysis Mar 30, 2015

Increasing Education: What it Will and Will Not Do for Earnings and Earnings Inequality

Scholars and public commentators have recently debated the impact of education on earnings and earnings inequality. Some have argued that improving education is not the sole solution to inequality. In this economic analysis, Brad Hershbein, Melissa Kearney and Lawrence H. Summers clarify the different elements of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds.

Economic Analysis Nov 20, 2014

Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

In a new interactive feature and economic analysis, The Hamilton Project explores how the current student loan repayment system often creates a heavy burden on recent graduates by having them make payments in the beginning of their careers when their earnings are low. The accompanying interactive feature allows users to calculate the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 college majors.

Economic Analysis Aug 1, 2014

An Update to The Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap Analysis

Each month, The Hamilton Project calculates America’s “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the people who newly enter the labor force each month. In this month’s economic analysis, we have made changes to the appearance of the jobs gap chart and the methodology behind the jobs gap calculations. As of the end of July 2014, our nation faces a jobs gap of 5.7 million jobs.

Economic Analysis Nov 22, 2013

Hunger and the Important Role of SNAP as an American Safety Net

In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project focuses on two critical issues related to SNAP: (1) the widespread existence of both food insecurity and obesity among low-income children in the United States, and (2) the role of SNAP in fighting poverty during times of weak labor markets. SNAP participation rises and falls in lockstep with the unemployment rate, highlighting SNAP’s role as a safety-net program that bolsters family resources when employment and wages are low.

Economic Analysis Oct 4, 2013

Higher Education Today: Innovative Approaches for College Financing

For many Americans, the high cost of higher education provides a substantial barrier to college entry and ultimate completion. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project provides a snapshot of today’s higher education student, illustrating how the current generation of students are older and more financially independent than in the past, and highlights three forthcoming papers that address the complicated landscape of higher education financing through innovative policy proposals.

Economic Analysis Sep 12, 2013

The Lasting Effects of the Great Recession: Six Million Missing Workers and A New Economic Normal

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.

Economic Analysis Aug 2, 2013

What New Immigrants Could Mean for American Wages

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.

Economic Analysis Jul 5, 2013

Rising Student Debt Burdens: Factors Behind the Phenomenon

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.

Economic Analysis Jun 6, 2013

Is Starting College and Not Finishing Really That Bad?

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.

Economic Analysis May 3, 2013

Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?

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.

Economic Analysis Apr 5, 2013

An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving Worker Training Programs

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.

Economic Analysis Mar 8, 2013

Sequestration’s Threat to America’s Most Vulnerable

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.

Economic Analysis Feb 1, 2013

Not All Cuts Are Created Equal: Why Smart Deficit Reduction Matters

The federal budget deficit is still the nation’s major economic focus. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the potential impacts of enacted budget cuts, including the looming sequester, on America’s economic well-being. The Project finds that smart deficit reduction will require creative thinking about which budget areas can be made more efficient without damaging programs that are essential to promoting economic growth.

Economic Analysis Jan 4, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Deal and Our Long-Run Budget Challenge

This week, lawmakers passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act to avoid much of the near-term drag on the economy that could have been triggered by the tax increases and spending cuts in the so-called fiscal cliff. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the projected effects of the bill on economic growth and the long-run budget deficit. The Project finds that the immediate budgetary effects of the bill are a positive step, but the debt-to-GDP level will continue to rise and lawmakers face more work in the months ahead.

Economic Analysis Dec 16, 2012

How Long Will it Take to Get to 6.5 Percent Unemployment?

The Fed recently announced that it would keep interest rates at historic lows until the unemployment rate dropped below 6.5 percent, so long as inflation remained below 2.5 percent. In a new analysis, The Hamilton Project presents a range of estimates of how long it will take for the unemployment rate to fall to 6.5 percent based on different rates of job growth and an assumption about the growth of the labor force.

Economic Analysis Dec 7, 2012

The Impact of Fiscal Cliff Negotiations on American Jobs: The Tradeoff Between Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth

As the year draws to a close, policymakers and the media have their sights fixed on the “fiscal cliff” – the rapidly approaching day on which federal law mandates precipitous cuts in spending and increases in taxes. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines how various approaches to confronting the fiscal cliff are projected to impact the employment situation in the coming year.

Economic Analysis Dec 4, 2012

The Importance of Unemployment Insurance for American Families and the Economy

About two million U.S. residents stand to lose extended unemployment insurance benefits next month when legislation that temporarily increased how long people can claim benefits will expire. As lawmakers negotiate a path around the fiscal cliff and consider whether to extend these benefits, The Hamilton Project looks at the evidence on unemployment insurance, finding that the benefits of UI extension likely outweigh the costs.

Economic Analysis Nov 2, 2012

How Does Our Economic Future Compare with That of 2008? A Glimpse at America’s Road to Recovery

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots for president, many voters are pausing to assess the state of the economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reviews the available data to explore whether America’s economic future looks brighter today than it did four years ago and finds that the data clearly indicate a much rosier future for the United States than was the case in 2008.

Economic Analysis Oct 5, 2012

Regardless of the Cost, College Still Matters

There is ongoing debate about the rising cost of college and whether that investment is still worthwhile in today’s economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines the rising cost of college over the last 30 years and finds that while college costs are growing, the increase in earnings one receives from a college degree—and, by extension, the cost of not going to college—are growing even faster.

Economic Analysis Mar 9, 2012

Understanding the “Jobs Gap” and What it Says About America’s Evolving Workforce

The Hamilton Project reexamines the current rate of labor force expansion, and how shifts in labor force participation will decrease the time it will take to close the “jobs gap.” As a result of new methodology based on population estimates, we now project that at a job creation rate of 208,000 per month, it will take until 2020 to close the jobs gap, rather than late 2023 as we had projected with the old method.

Economic Analysis Sep 21, 2011

Are We Short-Changing our Future? The Economic Imperative of Attracting Great Teachers

America's workforce needs a strong eduction system to compete and research demonstrates the power of a good teacher to boost student achievement. However, hiring and retaining effective teachers has become difficult, partly due to compensation. In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project explores the relative salary declines of teachers during the last four decades when compared to other professions.

Economic Analysis Feb 4, 2011

A Broader Look at The U.S. Employment Situation and the Importance of a Good Education

The January employment numbers, released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, present mixed evidence about the state of the labor market. While the unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent, payrolls were just better than flat, increasing by only 36,000 jobs last month. Much attention is given to the official unemployment rate, which is certainly an important indicator of our employment situation. But, in fact, the unemployment rate tends to understate the severity of the challenge for American workers in the aftermath of the Great Recession.