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All Papers: Recession Ready:

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.   

Policy Books May 16, 2019

Recession Ready: Fiscal Policies to Stabilize the American Economy

Slowdowns in the economy are inevitable. While it may be tempting to rely on Federal Reserve policy as a lone response to recessions, this would be a mistake; we know that fiscal stimulus is effective. Rather than wait for a crisis to strike before designing discretionary fiscal policy, we would be better served by preparing in advance. Enacting evidence-based automatic stabilizer proposals before the next recession will help the next recovery start faster, make job creation stronger, and restore confidence to businesses and households.

Policy Proposal May 16, 2019

Increasing Federal Support for State Medicaid and CHIP Programs in Response to Economic Downturns

In the face of large declines in tax revenues and increased demand for state programs during and after recessions, state governments are often forced to raise taxes, cut programs, or both. In order to protect state Medicaid programs and counteract recessions, Matthew Fiedler, Jason Furman, and Wilson Powell III propose to automatically increase the federal share of expenditures under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program when a state’s unemployment rate exceeds a threshold level.

Policy Proposal May 16, 2019

Improving TANF’s Countercyclicality through Increased Basic Assistance and Subsidized Jobs

The design of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program prevents it from providing sufficient assistance to families with children during economic downturns and from serving as an effective stabilizer. In order to help TANF better deliver on both these fronts, Indivar Dutta-Gupta proposes ways to change the funding, design, and administration of the program.

Policy Proposal May 20, 2016

Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The experience of the Great Recession reveals important holes in the safety net. In particular, the central cash-assistance program in the United States, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is failing to reach many poor families. In addition, the program does not automatically expand during economic downturns, when the need for the program is likely greatest and when additional consumer spending would be particularly helpful. To strengthen TANF, Marianne Bitler and Hilary Hoynes propose reforms to expand both the program’s reach and its responsiveness to cyclical downturns. They also propose ways to improve its transparency, which will help researchers and policymakers understand how the program works, who it supports, and how effectively it meets its goals. 

Policy Proposal May 17, 2016

Fiscal Policy Reconsidered

In the years following the Great Recession, many economists and policymakers agree that fiscal stimulus was crucial to turning around the faltering economy and helped to save or create millions of jobs. What economists and policymakers do not agree on is whether the stimulus should have been larger, whether it contained the correct mix of tax cuts and targeted government spending, and how it could have best been delivered. In this Hamilton Project policy proposal, Alan Blinder tackles these questions using economic theory and recent evidence from the Great Recession to discuss how fiscal policy can be better designed to mitigate the effects of the next economic downturn.

Economic Facts May 17, 2016

Nine Facts about the Great Recession and Tools for Fighting the Next Downturn

Between December 2007 and June 2009 the United States experienced the most severe recession in the postwar period. Given the massive human cost of recessions, it is incumbent upon policy makers to assess the policy tools at their disposal and identify those that are most effective at hastening economic recovery during a downturn. In this document, The Hamilton Project describes how different groups of workers were affected by the Great Recession, what works in fiscal stimulus, what could be done differently in future recessions, and the fiscal preparedness of states for the next downturn.