The composition and implications of long term unemployment has been vigorously debated over the last year. The most recent informed commentary (skipping non-evidence based assessments ) includes Macroblog and SF Fed (earlier discussion here and here). Two conferences on the subject will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this Friday, and later at the end of April.
The magnitude of the phenomenon can be illustrated by inspecting mean unemployment duration, and number of unemployed over 27 weeks.
Figure 1: Mean unemployment duration, in weeks, seasonally adjusted. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: February employment situation (household survey).
Figure 2: Number of unemployed over 27 weeks, in ’000s, seasonally adjusted. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: February employment situation (household survey).
As I mentioned before, UW-Madison is taking the lead on bringing together scholars to examine the challenges posed by persistent and high long term unemployment (for now, the university has resources to put on conferences; we’ll see how that plays out going forward ). The first is this week, on Friday, March 11, and is organized by the Institute for Poverty Research, entitled Employment Prospects for Lower Wage Workers: Easing the Implications of a Slow Recovery Conference, organized by Robert Haveman, Carolyn Heinrich, and Timothy Smeeding:
Employment Prospects for Lower Wage Workers: Easing the Implications of a Slow Recovery Conference
March 11, 2011
- Introduction—Timothy Smeeding, Robert Haveman, and Carolyn Heinrich, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Session One: The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S.
- Moderator: Timothy Smeeding, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Presenter: David Autor, MIT: “The ‘Polarization’ of U.S.Employment Demand”
- Presenter: Harry Holzer, Georgetown University: “The Future of Middle Class Jobs”
- Discussant: Susan Houseman, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Session Two: Building the Human Capital Necessary to Succeed in the Labor Market of the Next Decade
- Moderator: Robert Haveman, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Speaker: James Rosenbaum, Northwestern University: “Ability and Success: Do Colleges Have the Ability to Improve Student Outcomes?”
- Presenter: Sarah Turner, University of Virginia: “Do Collegiate Resources Matter? Evidence and Hypotheses”
- Discussant: Richard Murnane, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Session Three: Aligning Policy to Address the Problem of Lower-Wage Workers
- Moderator: Carolyn Heinrich, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Speaker: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum: “Is Education Reform the Only Answer?”
- Till von Wachter, Columbia University: “The Impact of Recessions on Low-Wage Workers and Policy Implications”
- Discussant: John Karl Scholz, University of Wisconsin–Madison
A graph depicting the trends and projections for youth unemployment across countries highlights the issue. From OECD, Off to a good start? Jobs for Youth.
The second conference, “Long term unemployment in industrial countries: Causes, Consequences and Policy Responses,” organized by myself and Mark Copelovitch, focuses on cross country aspects of long term unemployment, and takes place on April 28. It is sponsored by the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE) (and co-sponsored by the Department of Economics, the Department of Political Science, and the UW School of Business/CIBER).
Conference on Long term unemployment in industrial countries: Causes, Consequences and Policy Responses
April 28, 2011
Panel – Long term unemployment in industrial countries: Causes, Consequences and Policy Responses
- Moderator: Tim Smeeding, Director, IRP
- Panelist: Prakash Loungani, Advisor, Research Department, IMF
- Panelist: Kenneth Scheve, Professor of Political Science, Yale
- Panelist: Rob Valletta, Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
- Panelist: Phillip Swagel, Professor of Public Policy, U.Maryland, and former Asst. Secretary of Treasury for Economic Policy
Session 1: Politics, and Policy (in conjunction with the Political Economy workshop)
- Chair: Mark Copelovitch, Assistant Professor, Political Science and La Follette, UW
- Presenter: Kenneth Scheve: “Inequality and long term unemployment: Implications for Politics and Policy
- Discussant: David Weimer, Dept. of Political Science and La Follette
- Presenter: Phillip Swagel, “Policy responses to long term unemployment” (tentative)
- Discussant: Carolyn Heinrich, Professor, La Follette, UW
Session 2: Identifying the sources of long term unemployment
- Chair: Tom Deleire, Professor, La Follette and Population Health, UW
- Presenter: Prakash Loungani, “Cyclical versus structural unemployment”
- Discussant: Daniel Aaronson, Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
- Presenter: Rob Valletta, “Rising Unemployment Duration in the United States: Composition or Behavior?”
- Discussant: Rasmus Lentz, Dept. of Economics, UW
Details on registration to come.
Update, 11:45am 3/9 Attesting to the importance of this issue, UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment is also hosting a conference on this topic.
Reconnecting to Work: Consequences of Long-Term Unemployment and Prospects for Job Creation
UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
April 1-2, 2011 – Registration ends Monday, March 14, 2011
Reconnecting to Work is a day and a half conference to be held on April 1-2, 2011 on UCLA’s campus. It will focus on the consequences of long-term unemployment and the policies that are needed to address it. The program includes presentations by researchers and advocates, examining the psychological and economic consequences of long-term unemployment as well as policies intended to increase job creation and get the long-term unemployed back into jobs.
Richard Freeman, Harvard economist and director of the Labor Studies area at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, has joined the program for the Reconnecting to Work conference as the keynote speaker.
The preliminary program and registration are available here.