04/23/2018

News

What’s behind Declining Male Labor Force Participation

Many are concerned about the state of the American job market, convinced that improving employment indicators mask pervasive hardship. In particular, some are concerned about the increase in the number of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work—men who are out of the labor force, or inactive. While this upward trend is routinely taken as a sign of the economy’s weakness, other interpretations are possible.

Scott Winship considers why inactivity in the labor force among prime-age men—those between the ages of 25 and 54—has grown so steadily for so long. The study examines trends in a number of labor market indicators to assess the extent to which rising inactivity rates reflect a worsening of the job market (lower demand) or reduced job-seeking (lower supply). It takes a detailed look at four different types of prime-age inactive men: the disabled, the retired, those who want a job, and those who do not.

Policymakers should focus on helping the unemployed and inactive men who want jobs and on reforming disability programs to promote independence. The unemployment rate provides a reliable indicator of changes in the labor market’s strength, even if it understates the level of involuntary joblessness. The Bureau of Labor Statistics should consider adopting a new “U5b” rate that includes inactive people who want a job along with those counted by the existing unemployment rate, in order to institutionalize a broader measure of joblessness and increase faith in our jobless statistics.

Read More

The Cumulative Cost of Regulations

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University uses an economic model that examines regulation’s effect on firms’ investment choices. Using a 22-industry dataset that covers 1977 through 2012, the study finds that regulation—by distorting the investment choices that lead to innovation—has created a considerable drag on the economy, amounting to an average reduction in the annual growth rate of the US gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.8 percent.

Research & Studies
Read More

Weathering the Next Recession: How Prepared Are the 50 States?

A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks each state’s readiness for an economic downturn based on the size of its rainy day savings fund and budget surplus.

Research & Studies
Read More

Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition

California’s cash position was very poor for FY 2013. When including all forms of cash, the state had 1.29 times the amount of cash available to cover short-term expenses, which was almost three times less than the national average. On a fiscal year basis, California had sufficient revenues to cover expenses and ran a slight surplus. But the long-term picture showed several warning signs. Long-term liabilities accounted for nearly 80 percent of the state’s total assets. The largest area of fiscal risk was in California’s state-run pension systems, which had a staggering $636 billion shortfall when calculated on a risk-free or guaranteed-to-be-paid basis. 

Read More