Region: United States

One of the few great inescapable facts in the field of economics is the reality of the business cycle. No matter how high-flying an economy might appear, another recession is coming sooner or later. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to regularly predict when one might occur, or how severe it may be, but recessions and their place in the business cycle are an accepted fact of economic life. Therefore, preparing for recessions is an equally inescapable concept.

It has been more than eight years since the end of the last recession, the third longest period of expansion in U.S. history, and many are rightfully beginning to look ahead to the next economic downturn. However, one of the most effective ways to look forward is to look back and make sure that we have adequately learned the lessons of the Great Recession. Nowhere is this type of postmortem more appropriate than for state and local governments.

Feb. 7, 2017
We characterize rates of intergenerational income mobility at each college in the United States using administrative data for over 30 million college students from 1999-2013. We document four results. First, access to colleges varies greatly by parent income. For example, children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile. Second, children from low and high-income families have very similar earnings outcomes conditional on the college they attend, indicating that there is little mismatch of low socioeconomic status students to selective colleges. Third, upward mobility rates – measured, for instance, by the fraction of students who come from families in the bottom income quintile and reach the top quintile – vary substantially across colleges. Much of this variation is driven by di↵erences in the fraction of students from low-income families across colleges whose students have similar earnings outcomes. Mid-tier public universities such as the City University of New York and California State colleges tend to have the highest rates of bottom-to-top quintile mobility.
As the largest sector within the nation’s clean energy economy, energy efficiency accounts for about three out of every four American clean energy jobs. In total, these technologies support almost 1.9 million jobs across the country, and 889,050 of these workers spend the majority of their time supporting the energy efficiency portion of their business.2 Employers across the roughly 165,000 establishments that conduct energy efficiency work are optimistic about business growth, projecting a collective 13 percent employment growth rate over 2016—or an additional 245,000 jobs.

We estimate rates of “absolute income mobility” – the fraction of children who earn more than their parents – by combining historical data from Census and CPS cross-sections with panel data for recent birth cohorts from de-identified tax records. Our approach overcomes the key data limitation that has hampered research on trends in intergenerational mobility: the lack of large panel datasets linking parents and children. We find that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90%for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. The result that absolute mobility has fallen sharply over the past half century is robust to the choice of price deflator, the definition of income, and accounting for taxes and transfers. In counterfactual simulations, we find that increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. In contrast, changing the distribution of growth across income groups to the more equal distribution experienced by the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American Dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is spread more broadly across the income distribution.     

"This analysis surveys the economic landscape emerging from the Great Recession and compares it to previous recovery periods. It identifies differences in the strength and geography of county-level growth in employment and business establishments — two key markers of economic dynamism — and uncovers three significant transformations in the economy. The first and most unambiguously troubling is a collapse in the number of new firms in the economy. The second is the increasing geographic concentration of recovery-era businesses and jobs into a smaller number of more populous counties. The third is the shift in the counties driving the nation’s economic recoveries from smaller to larger ones. Together, the findings capture an economy veering towards a less broadly dynamic, less entrepreneurial, and more geographically concentrated equilibrium — more reliant than ever on a few high-performing geographies abundant in talent and capital to carry national rates of growth."
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Nov. 17, 2017 / Andrew Khouri

Nov. 17, 2017 / The Editorial Board