fbpx US unemployment remains worse than it seems as millions still out of the labor force - Jason Furman & WIllie Powell | Harvard Kennedy School

HKS Affiliated Authors

Additional Authors:

  • Wilson Powell

Excerpt

March 5, 2021, Opinion: "The labor market improved in February 2021 as employers added 379,000 jobs, leaving the economy at 11.9 million jobs below its pre-pandemic trend. At the same time the unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent. Throughout the pandemic the official unemployment rate has been kept down by a misclassification error and the unusually large withdrawal of millions of people from the workforce. Our estimate of the realistic unemployment rate for February was 8.2 percent, a concept that adjusts for the unusually large decline in participation as well as changes in demography and is designed to be historically comparable to the official unemployment rate, which reached a maximum of 10.0 percent in the 2007–09 financial crisis. Another concept, the fixed participation rate unemployment rate, cited by Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, was 9.5 percent; the comparable concept peaked at 11.8 percent in the financial crisis."

HKS Authors - Jason Furman & Willie Powell