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The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Working paper figure w30267
Between 2010 and 2019, US productivity grew more slowly than in any other decade of the post-World War II era. The business sector grew by an average of 1.1 percent per year, less than half of the 2.5 percent average annual growth from 1950 to 2009. Analysts have struggled to explain this slowdown during the longest business cycle expansion in US history and why productivity growth in 2020 soared to 4.1 percent, a sudden surge during a year marked by the short but...

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The graph is a line chart titled "Temporary-Layoff Unemployment, 1979–2019." The y-axis ranges from 0 to 3 percent, and the x-axis spans the years 1979 to 2019. NBER-dated recessions are also markedThe chart plots the temporary-layoff unemployment rate and the temporary-layoff rate inclusive of unemployment from temporary layoffs that became permanent (the series are quarterly averages). Each rate increases during recessions.  Both rates peaked during the 1981–82 recession, with temporary-layoff unemploymen
In the US labor market, about one-third of all unemployment spells begin with temporary layoffs. Some workers who are placed on temporary layoff, however, are never recalled to their former job. They may at some point be told by their former employer that recall is no longer an option. They join the “jobless unemployed,” a group that usually takes longer than those on temporary layoff to find a job. In Temporary Layoffs, Loss-of-Recall and Cyclical Unemployment...
Working Paper Figure w30227
Governments and many private organizations have invested in programs to support diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline, including summer programs for high school students. There is little rigorous evidence of the efficacy of these programs, however. In STEM Summer Programs for Underrepresented Youth Increase STEM Degrees (NBER Working Paper 30227), Sarah R. Cohodes, Helen Ho, and Silvia C. Robles find that students offered...
Firms vary widely in their management practices and productivity, especially in low-income countries. In Acquisitions, Management, and Efficiency in Rwanda’s Coffee Industry (NBER Working Paper 30230), Rocco Macchiavello and Ameet Morjaria find that Rwandan coffee mills become more productive after they are acquired by a foreign firm, but not when they are acquired by a domestic one. Coffee mills purchase coffee cherries — beans that have not yet had the outer...
Clinical trials and post-market studies showed that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at reducing COVID-19 mortality, yet only about 67 percent of the US population has received two doses of the vaccines. In How Undervalued Is the COVID-19 Vaccine? Evidence from Discrete Choice Experiments and VSL Benchmarks (NBER Working Paper 30118), Patrick Carlin, Brian Dixon, Kosali Simon, Ryan Sullivan, and Coady Wing suggest that survey respondents substantially...
Maritime shipping emits half as much fine particulate matter as global road traffic. A decade ago, the United States in conjunction with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued new regulations to limit the emissions of oceangoing vessels. As a result, particulate pollution has fallen substantially in areas along US coastlines. In Uncharted Waters: Effects of Maritime Emission Regulation (NBER Working Paper 30181), Jamie Hansen-Lewis and Michelle M. Marcus...
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