The Center's work on 'Recession and Recovery' Issues

The Center examines the impact of changes in the economy on federal and state budgets, as well as the likely effectiveness of economic stimulus proposals. We also examine trends in employment and promote reforms to strengthen the unemployment insurance system.


Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

November 7, 2014 at 10:33 am

Today’s solid jobs report shows the labor market continues to improve in important ways but that wage growth continues to languish.  That suggests the Federal Reserve should wait until the labor market improves enough to boost wages before beginning to raise interest rates.

Click here for my statement with further analysis.






Why We Should Give Wages Room to Grow

October 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

My latest post for U.S. News’ Economic Intelligence blog shows that American workers have been shortchanged in the recovery from the Great Recession and explains why the projected quickening of wage growth over the next few years won’t trigger an upward spiral of wages and prices.  It says in part:

How can wage increases go from 2 percent per year to 3.5 percent [as the Congressional Budget Office projects will occur over the next three years] without igniting unacceptable inflation?  The answer lies in the arithmetic of prices, productivity and labor costs.

In round numbers, since the start of the recession in late 2007, hourly labor compensation (wages plus fringe benefits) has grown at about 2 percent a year on average.  Productivity growth (increases in output per hour worked) offset about 1.5 percentage points of that increase.  The difference, a mere 0.5 percent a year, is the growth rate of labor costs per unit of output produced.

Prices were rising three times as fast as that over this period — 1.5 percent per year — so businesses had three times the revenue per unit of output they needed to cover the increase in unit labor costs.  It’s not surprising that profits grew substantially while workers got the short end of the stick. Businesses could have raised hourly compensation by 3 percent a year over this period (half paid for by higher prices, half by greater productivity) without threatening their bottom line.

CBO projects that inflation will rise gradually toward the Fed’s stated longer-term goal of 2 percent per year. That means hourly compensation can rise at 3.5 percent a year without putting any additional upward pressure on prices: Price increases would cover 2 percentage points of that increase, and greater productivity would cover the rest.

Click here for the full post.

Join Jared Today to Discuss Ways to Reduce Poverty

October 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein will participate in a TalkPoverty LIVE! online panel discussion at 2:00 today on three policies to reduce poverty and increase economic security:

  • Raising the minimum wage and strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC;
  • Addressing erratic work schedules to make it possible to balance work and family;
  • Reforming the criminal justice system and re-entry policies so that criminal records do not resign people or their families to a life of poverty.

Other panelists include the Center for Law and Social Policy’s Jodie Levin-Epstein and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Daryl Atkinson.  The Center for American Progress’s Rebecca Vallas will moderate.

Viewers can participate through tweets to @TalkPoverty with the hashtag #talkpovertylive and posts on the TalkPoverty.org Facebook page during the conversation.

Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

October 3, 2014 at 9:48 am

Today’s generally solid report shows that job creation is back on an over-200,000-a-month track after slowing sharply in August.  Nevertheless, there appears to be substantial room for further expansion, allowing the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low in pursuit of high employment without igniting unacceptable inflation.  Moreover, policymakers should not be concerned about inflation even if wages begin to grow faster than they have so far in the recovery.

Click here for my full statement with further analysis.

Read more…

Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

September 5, 2014 at 9:39 am

Today’s disappointing jobs report, while perhaps only a temporary blip in an ongoing labor market recovery, is nevertheless a sober reminder of how devastating the Great Recession and subsequent prolonged jobs slump has been for American workers.  In particular, the share of the population with a job, which plunged to low levels not seen since the early 1980s, has since risen only modestly even though we now are more than five years into the recovery.  In addition, the share of the labor force that is working fewer hours than it would like remains elevated, and unusually high long-term unemployment persists.

Click here for my full statement with further analysis.

Share of population with a job remains near recession levels

Long-term unemployment

Monthly job growth

Job losses were particularly high

Unemployment rate