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Economic Perspectives, Vol. 38, 4th, 2014
Declining Labor Force Participation and Its Implications for Unemployment and Employment Growth
The authors extend methodologies from their previous research to provide estimates of the long-run trend rate of labor force participation (LFP) based on data before the Great Recession (before 2008). Their models suggest that the actual LFP rate as of the third quarter of 2014 is 0.2 to 1.2 percentage points lower than what would have been expected before the recession started, with their preferred model estimating the gap at the high end of this range. Accounting for unemployment rates of recent years, their models for the trend LFP rate place the actual LFP rate between 0 and 0.8 percentage points below expectations, again with their preferred model estimating the gap at the high end. Their LFP results imply that the natural rate of unemployment may be lower than is often assumed (by as much as 0.6 percentage points since 2000) and that the long-run trend in payroll employment growth is expected to move substantially lower (to under 50,000 jobs per month) through 2020.
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