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The New York Fed engages with individuals, households and businesses in the Second District and maintains an active dialogue in the region. The Bank gathers and shares regional economic intelligence to inform our community and policy makers, and promotes sound financial and economic decisions through community development and education programs.
Many newly minted college graduates entering the labor market in the wake of the Great Recession have had a tough time finding good jobs. But just how difficult has it been, and are things getting better? And for which graduates? These questions can be difficult to answer because timely information on the employment prospects of college graduates has been hard to come by. To address this gap, today we are launching a new interactive web feature to provide data on a wide range of job market metrics for recent college graduates, including trends in unemployment rates, underemployment rates, and wages. We also provide data on the demand for college-educated workers, as well as differences in labor market outcomes across college majors. These data will be updated regularly and are available for download.
The image of a newly minted college graduate working behind the counter of a hip coffee shop has become a hallmark of the plight of recent college graduates following the Great Recession. Recurring news stories about young college graduates stuck in low-skilled jobs make it easy to see why many college students may be worried about their futures. However, while there is some truth behind the popular image of the college-educated barista, this portrayal is really more myth than reality. Although many recent college graduates are “underemployed”—working in jobs that typically don’t require a degree—our research indicates that only a small fraction worked in a low-skilled service job in the years following the Great Recession. We find that underemployed recent college graduates held a wide range of jobs and, while most of these positions were clearly not equivalent to jobs that require a college education, some were actually fairly skilled and well paid. Further, our analysis suggests that many of those who started their careers in a low-skilled service job transitioned to a better job after gaining some experience in the labor market.
However important income inequality is, it is only a partial representation of the inequality in well-being among individuals, households, counties, and other communities. At a minimum, we need to consider other crucial measures such as consumption, leisure, and health. The reason for looking at other measures is that the inequality in income per se might not translate directly into a deeper and more important concept of inequality in welfare terms. For example, Jones and Klenow state that if we were to look at GDP only, France’s living standards would be only about 60 percent those of the United States. However, once we factor in leisure and life expectancy, that figure gets closer to 85 percent, a substantial change. In essence, monetary income, and therefore income inequality, is only a part of what individuals and countries value. We apply exactly this concept to highlight the substantial amount of health inequality across counties in the United States.
The risk of becoming unemployed varies substantially across different groups within the labor market. Although the “headline” unemployment rate draws the most attention from the news media and policymakers, there is rich heterogeneity underlying this overall measure. We delve into the data to describe how unemployment and job loss risk vary with demographics (gender, age, and race), skill (educational attainment), and job characteristics (occupation and earnings).
How much someone earns is an important determinant of many significant decisions over the course of a lifetime. Therefore, understanding how and why earnings are dispersed across individuals is central to understanding dispersion in a wide range of areas such as durable and non-durable consumption expenditures, debt, hours worked, and even health. Drawing on a recent New York Fed staff report "What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Risks?", this blog post investigates the nature of earnings inequality over a lifetime. It finds that earnings are subject to significant downside risk and that such risk contributes substantially to overall earnings dispersion.
The Federal Reserve’s statutory mission from Congress is to achieve maximum employment and price stability for the country as a whole. In line with this dual mandate, economists at the New York Fed monitor conditions in the “aggregate” economy on a day-to-day basis. But in addition, they have been doing a substantial amount of work to understand the differences in economic experiences across individuals, households, and regions. This blog series will examine our economists’ findings on how labor, housing, and health outcomes vary for different groups. A brief summary of the posts in the series follows:
Luis Armona, Samuel Kapon, Laura Pilossoph, Ayşegül Şahin, and Giorgio Topa
Since the peak of the recession, the unemployment rate has fallen by almost 5 percentage points, and observers continue to focus on whether and when this decline will lead to robust wage growth. Typically, in the wake of such a decline, real wages grow since there is more competition for workers among potential employers. While this relationship has historically been quite informative, real wage growth more recently has not been commensurate with observed declines in the unemployment rate.
Joseph Tracy, Robert Rich, Samuel Kapon, and Ellen Fu
Indicators of labor market slack enable economists to judge pressures on wages and prices. Direct measures of slack, however, are not available and must be constructed. Here, we build on our previous work using the employment-to-population (E/P) ratio and develop an updated measure of labor market slack based on the behavior of labor compensation. Our measure indicates that roughly 90 percent of the labor gap that opened up following the recession has been closed.
Stefania Albanesi, Claudia Olivetti, and Maria Prados
The persistence of a gender gap in wages is shaping the debate over women’s equality in the workplace and underscores the challenge facing policymakers as they consider their potential role in closing it. While the disparity affects females at all income levels, women in professional and managerial occupations tend to experience greater gender-pay differences than those in working-class jobs. The rise in the use of incentive pay, which has been linked to the growth of income inequality (Lemieux, MacLeod, and Parent), might have contributed to the gender gap in earnings (Albanesi and Olivetti). In this post, which is based on our related New York Fed staff report, we document three new facts about gender differences in the structure of executive compensation.
We often hear that women earn “77 cents on the dollar” compared with men. However, the gender pay gap among recent college graduates is actually much smaller than this figure suggests. We estimate that among recent college graduates, women earn roughly 97 cents on the dollar compared with men who have the same college major and perform the same jobs. Moreover, what may be surprising is that at the start of their careers, women actually out-earn men by a substantial margin for a number of college majors. However, our analysis shows that as workers approach mid-career, the wage premium that young women enjoy in these majors completely disappears, and males earn a more substantial premium in nearly every major. We discuss some of the possible reasons why the gender wage gap widens as workers progress through their careers.
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