The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
In this paper, we provide compelling evidence that cyclical factors account for the bulk of the post-2007 decline in the U.S. labor force participation rate. We then proceed to formulate a stylized New Keynesian model in which labor force participation is essentially acyclical during 'normal times' (that is, in response to small or transitory shocks) but drops markedly in the wake of a large and persistent aggregate demand shock. Finally, we show that these considerations can have potentially crucial implications for the design of monetary policy, especially under circumstances in which adjustments to the short-term interest rate are constrained by the zero lower bound.