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WP 2008-2 By What Measure? A Comparison of French and U.S. Labor Market Performance With New Indicators of Employment Adequacy

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Disciplines
  • Design
  • Economics

Abstract

Microsoft Word - France_US Empl Perf_final_july 10.09.doc SCEPA Working Paper 2008-2 By What Measure? A Comparison of French and U.S. Labor Market Performance With New Indicators of Employment Adequacy David R. Howell, Anna Okatenko Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and Department of Economics New School for Social Research, 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003 WORKING PAPER SERIES July 2008 Revised October 2008 Revised July 2009 2 By What Measure? A Comparison of French and U.S. Labor Market Performance With New Indicators of Employment Adequacy David R. Howell and Anna Okatenko1 July 10, 2009 National labor market performance is conventionally judged on the basis of unemployment and employment rates (UR and ER) and these two “quantity-of-employment” indicators have framed policy debates on the merits of reforms that would move European labor markets closer to the “American Model.” This paper compares French and U.S. performance using a variety of alternative indicators, including new measures that account for job quality. While the UR was much higher for France between 1984 and 2007, it was lower than the U.S. rate before 1984 and the rates have since converged. It is also significant but not well-known that both prime-age ERs and youth unemployment-to- population rates have been quite similar in recent decades. We calculate two new summary indicators from each country’s main household survey for 1993-2005 designed to account for the adequacy of pay and hours of work as well as the number of unemployed and employed (the underemployed share of the labor force and the adequately employed share of the working age population). France shows superior performance on both, especially for less-educated workers, and the French advantage has grown substantially since the late 1990s. 1 Howel

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