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Mr. Sakai Ando, Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Bertrand Gruss, Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, Koralai Kirabaeva, Nir Klein, Ana Lariau, Lucy Qian Liu, Davide Malacrino, Mr. Haonan Qu, and Alexandra Solovyeva
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by far the largest shock to European economies since World War II. Yet, astonishingly, the EU unemployment rate had already declined to its pre-crisis level by 2021Q3, and in some countries the labor force participation rate is at a record high. This paper documents that the widespread use of job retention schemes has played an essential role in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on labor markets and thereby facilitating the restart of European economies after the initial lockdowns.
Ana Lariau and Lucy Qian Liu
We analyze the differential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Spanish labor market across population groups, as well as its implications for income inequality. The main finding is that young, less educated, and low skilled workers, as well as women are the most affected by the COVID-19 shock in terms of job loss rates. The differential impacts were especially acute at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and remain robust after taking into account the heterogeneity of sector characteristics. Given that these vulnerable groups were positioned in the lower end of the income distribution before the crisis, we hypothesize that income inequality likely has increased due to the pandemic. Policies aiming at reducing inequality in the labor market need to go beyond measures that target the hardest-hit sectors and support the vulnerable groups more directly.
Carlo Pizzinelli and Mr. Ippei Shibata
This paper studies whether labor market mismatch played an important role for labor market dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic. We apply the framework of S¸ahin et al. (2014) to the US and the UK to measure misallocation between job seekers and vacancies across sectors until the third quarter of 2021. We find that mismatch rose sharply at the onset of the pandemic but returned to previous levels within a few quarters. Consequently, the total loss in employment caused by the rise in mismatch was smaller during the COVID-19 pandemic than during the Global Financial Crisis. The results are robust to considering alternative definitions of job seekers and to using a measure of effective job seekers in each sector. Preliminary evidence suggests that increased inactivity among older workers, the so called She-cession (particularly in the US) and shifting worker preferences amid strong labor demand are more prominent explanations for the persistent employment shortfall vis-à-vis pre-COVID levels.
Mr. Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Berengere Patault, and Flavien Moreau
Does labor court uncertainty and judge subjectivity influence firms’ performance? We study the economic consequences of judge decisions by collecting information on more than 145,000 Appeal court rulings, combined with administrative firm-level records covering the whole universe of French firms. The quasi-random assignment of judges to cases reveals that judge bias has statistically significant effects on the survival, employment, and sales of small low-performing firms. However, we find that the uncertainty associated with the actual dispersion of judge bias is small and has a non-significant impact on their average outcomes.
Tahsin Saadi Sedik
COVID-19 has exacerbated concerns about the rise of the robots and other automation technologies. This paper analyzes empirically the impact of past major pandemics on robot adoption and inequality. First, we find that pandemic events accelerate robot adoption, especially when the health impact is severe and is associated with a significant economic downturn. Second, while robots may raise productivity, they could also increase inequality by displacing low-skilled workers. We find that following a pandemic, the increase in inequality over the medium term is larger for economies with higher robot density and where new robot adoption has increased more. Our results suggest that the concerns about the rise of the robots amid the COVID-19 pandemic seem justified.
Mr. Adil Mohommad
Labor markets in Australia have adjusted smoothly to significant declines in commodity prices with little increase in unemployment. This paper examines several aspects of the adjustment, focusing on (i) evidence of increased labor market frictions following the commodity price decline; (ii) flexibility in labor input adjustment in response to demand shocks; (iii) changes in labor productivity in the wake of resource reallocation with the decline in mining investment, (iv) and the role of migration in adjusting to the commodity price and mining investment cycle. We find little evidence of increased labor market frictions with the decline in commodity prices. The relatively smooth transition has been assisted by increased flexibility in adjustment of worker hours over time. Labor productivity growth has sustained its historical average through the transition, despite some temporary drag as the economy rebalances. Finally, migration has played a key role in labor market adjustment through the commodity cycle.
Fabio Berton, Sauro Mocetti, Mr. Andrea F Presbitero, and Matteo Richiardi
We analyze the employment effects of financial shocks using a rich data set of job contracts, matched with the universe of firms and their lending banks in one Italian region. To isolate the effect of the financial shock we construct a firm-specific time-varying measure of credit supply. The contraction in credit supply explains one fourth of the reduction in employment. This result is concentrated in more levered and less productive firms. Also, the relatively less educated and less skilled workers with temporary contracts are the most affected. Our results are consistent with the cleansing role of financial shocks.
Rahul Anand, Siddharth Kothari, and Naresh Kumar
This paper analyzes the determinants of high unemployment in South Africa by studying labor market dynamics using individual level panel data from the Quarterly Labor Force Survey. While prior work experience and gender are found to be important determinants of the job-finding rate, education attainment and race are important determinants of the job-exit rate. Using stock-flow equations, counterfactual exercises are conducted to quantify the role of these different transition rates on unemployment. The paper also explores the contribution of unemployment towards inequality. Reducing unemployment is found to be important for reducing inequality – estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point reduction in unemployment lowers the Gini coefficient by 3 percent. Achieving a similar reduction solely through transfers would require a 40 percent increase in government transfers.
Mr. Stephan Danninger
Since the global financial crisis, US wage growth has been sluggish. Drawing on individual earnings data from the 2000–15 Current Population Survey, I find that the drawn-out cyclical labor market repair—likely owing to low entry wages of new workers—slowed down real wage growth. There are, however, also signs of structural changes in the labor market affecting wages: for full-time, full-employed workers, the Wage-Phillips curve—the empirical relationship between wage growth and the unemployment rate—has become horizontal after 2008. Similarly, job-turnover rates have continued to decline. Job-to-job transitions—associated with higher wage growth—have slowed across all skill and age groups and beyond what local labor market conditions would imply. This raises concerns about the allocative ability of the labor market to adjust to changing economic conditions.