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ECONOMIC REPORT OF
THE PRESIDENT

Together With
THE ANNUAL REPORT
of the
COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS

Transmitted to the Congress
February 2015

economic
re p ort
of the
president

transmitted to the congress
february 2015
together with

the annual report
of the

council of economic advisers

C O N T E N T S
ECONOMIC REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS*. . . . 7
CHAPTER 1.	
MIDDLE-CLASS ECONOMICS: THE ROLE
OF PRODUCTIVITY, INEQUALITY, AND
PARTICIPATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
CHAPTER 2. 	

THE YEAR IN REVIEW AND THE YEARS AHEAD.. . . 41

CHAPTER 3. 	
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES IN THE U.S.
LABOR MARKET. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
CHAPTER 4. 	 ECONOMICS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY
THE
WORKPLACE POLICIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
CHAPTER 5. 	
BUSINESS TAX REFORM AND ECONOMIC
GROWTH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
CHAPTER 6. 	 ENERGY REVOLUTION: ECONOMIC
THE
BENEFITS AND THE FOUNDATION FOR A
LOW-CARBON ENERGY FUTURE.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
CHAPTER 7. 	

THE UNITED STATES IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY . . . 291

REFERENCES	 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331
APPENDIX A.	
REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT ON THE ACTIVITIES
OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS
DURING 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365
APPENDIX B.	
STATISTICAL TABLES RELATING TO INCOME,
EMPLOYMENT, AND PRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

____________

*For a detailed table of contents of the Council’s Report, see page 11.

 iii

economic report
of the

president

economic report of the president

To the Congress of the United States:
As I send you this Economic Report of the President, the United States
has just concluded a breakthrough year. In 2014, our economy added jobs
at the fastest pace since the 1990s. The unemployment rate plunged to
its lowest point in over 6  years, far faster than economists predicted.
Ten million Americans gained the security of health coverage. And we
continued to cut our dependence on foreign oil and invest in renewable
energy, making us number one in the world in oil, gas, and wind power.
These achievements took place against a backdrop of longer‑term
economic strength. Since the crisis, we’ve seen our deficits cut by twothirds, our stock market double, and health care inflation at its lowest rate
in 50 years. The housing market is rebounding. Manufacturers are adding
jobs. More Americans are finishing college than ever before.
Now America is poised for another good year, as long as Washington
works to keep this progress going. But even as the economic recovery is
touching more lives, we need to do more to restore the link between
hard work and opportunity for every American. That’s the idea behind
middle-class economics—the simple fact that our country does best when
everyone has a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set
of rules.
Over the course of this year, I will continue to put forward ideas to
make that fundamental value a reality—not just so that more Americans
can share in their country’s success, but so that more Americans can
contribute to their country’s success. At this moment when our economy
is growing and creating jobs, we’ve got to work twice as hard, especially

Economic Report of the President  |  3

in Washington, to build on our momentum. And I will not let politics or
partisanship roll back the progress we’ve achieved on so many fronts.
I want to work with the Congress to invest in middle-class economics
in three key ways.
First, let’s help working families achieve greater security in a world
of constant change. That means giving Americans the peace of mind that
comes with knowing they’ll be able to afford childcare, college, health
care, a home, and retirement.
At a time when having both parents work is an economic necessity
for many families, high-quality, affordable childcare isn’t a nice-to-have—
it’s a must-have. That’s why I’ve proposed tripling the maximum child tax
credit to $3,000 per child per year, and creating more slots in childcare
programs nationwide.
Meanwhile, we’re the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t
guarantee workers either paid sick leave or paid maternity leave. Let’s help
more States adopt paid leave laws and put it to a vote in Washington too,
because no parent should ever have to choose between earning a paycheck
and taking care of a sick child.
Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like raising
wages. We still need to pass a law that guarantees women equal pay
for equal work. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime
they’ve earned. We still have a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That
means minimum-wage workers are actually earning 20 percent less than
they were when President Reagan was in office. It’s time to give some of
America’s hardest-working people a raise, because wages of $14,500 a year
are simply not enough to support a family.
In a 21st century economy, we should lower taxes on working families
and make mortgage premiums more affordable, so responsible families
can own their own homes. And we should strengthen programs like Social
Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that help workers save for retirement
and protect them from the harshest adversities. These ideas will make a
meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Americans, and I look
forward to working with the Congress to get them done.
Second, middle-class economics means helping more Americans
upgrade their skills so that they can earn higher wages down the road.
By the end of the decade, two in three jobs will require some higher
education. Yet far too many young people are priced out of college. That
can’t stand in the 21st  century, and that’s why my Administration has

4  |  Economic Report of the President

announced a bold new plan to offer 2  free years of community college
to responsible students. Let’s work together to make college as free and
universal as high school, because a modern economy requires a highly
educated workforce.
While we strengthen the higher education system, my Administration
is working to update our job training system and connect community
colleges with local employers to train workers directly for existing, highpaying jobs. And I’ve encouraged more companies to offer educational
benefits and paid apprenticeships so more workers have a chance to earn a
higher‑paying job even if they don’t have a higher education.
Finally, as we better train our workers, we need to ensure that our
economy keeps creating high-skilled, high-wage jobs for our workers to
fill. That means building the most competitive economy anywhere, so that
more businesses locate and hire in the United States.
Let’s start by making sure that our businesses have 21st  century
infrastructure—modern ports, stronger bridges, better roads, clean
water, clean energy, faster trains, and the fastest internet. A bipartisan
infrastructure plan would create thousands of middle-class jobs and
support economic growth for decades to come.
Investments in science, technology, and research and development
can fuel new inventions and breakthroughs that will keep American
businesses one step ahead of the competition. And protecting a free and
open internet, and extending its reach to every classroom and community
in America, will ensure that the next generation of digital innovators and
entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.
At a time when 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our
borders, new trade agreements would help American businesses reach new
markets and put stronger environmental and labor standards in place, to
ensure that all countries are playing by the same, fair set of rules. The
trade deals that my Administration is negotiating in the Atlantic and the
Pacific regions would do just that.
And to make our economy more competitive, let’s build a tax code
that truly helps middle-class families get ahead. Let’s reform our business
tax system to close wasteful loopholes, lower the rate, and simplify the
system so small business owners spend less time on accounting and more
time running their businesses. And let’s reform our broken immigration
system, so the United States continues to be the number one destination
for highly-skilled immigrants.

Economic Report of the President  |  5

Over the past 6  years, America has risen from recession freer to
write our own future than any other nation on Earth. A new foundation
is laid. A new future is ready to be written. It’s up to all of us—Democrats,
Republicans, and Independents—to write it together.

the white house
february 2015

6  |  Economic Report of the President

the annual report
of the

council of economic advisers

letter of transmittal
Council of Economic Advisers
Washington, D.C., February 19, 2015

Mr. President:
The Council of Economic Advisers herewith submits its 2015
Annual Report in accordance of the Employment Act of 1946 as amended
by the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978.
Sincerely yours,

Jason Furman
Chairman

Betsey Stevenson
Member

Maurice Obstfeld
Member

 9

C O N T E N T S

CHAPTER 1
MIDDLE-CLASS ECONOMICS: THE ROLE OF PRODUCTIVITY,
INEQUALITY, AND PARTICIPATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
THE PROGRESS OF THE U.S. ECONOMIC RECOVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

The Recovery in GDP and Labor Markets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MIDDLE-CLASS INCOMES IN THE POSTWAR
PERIOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

The Age of Shared Growth (1948-1973). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Age of Expanded Participation (1973-1995).. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Age of Productivity Recovery (1995-2013).. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Importance of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation..

31
31
32
33

THE DRIVERS OF MIDDLE-CLASS INCOMES: AN INTERNATIONAL
COMPARISON. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Labor Productivity Growth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Income Inequality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Labor Force Participation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

THE 2015 ECONOMIC REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

CHAPTER 2
THE YEAR IN REVIEW AND THE YEARS AHEAD.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
KEY EVENTS OF 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Aggregate Output Growth during the Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fiscal Policy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Monetary Policy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Financial Markets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
International Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..

43
44
48
49
51

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2014 AND THE NEAR-TERM OUTLOOK. . . . . . . 67

Consumer Spending. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Housing Markets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
11

Investment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
State and Local Governments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Labor Markets.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
THE LONG-TERM OUTLOOK.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

The 10-Year Forecast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
GDP Growth over the Long Term. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92

CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

CHAPTER 3
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES IN THE U.S. LABOR
MARKET. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
THE STATE OF THE U.S. LABOR MARKET IN 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

A Longer-Term Perspective on Labor Force Participation. . . . . . 112
Decomposing the Decline in Participation Since 2007. . . . . . . . . . 114
Outlook for the Participation Rate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121

LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122

Trends in Long-Term Unemployment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Factors behind Elevated Rates of Long-Term Unemployment.. 126
Why Long-term Unemployment Matters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

PART-TIME WORK FOR ECONOMIC REASONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
..

Patterns in Part-Time For Economic Reasons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
..
The Outlook for the Rate of Part-Time for Economic Reasons.. 132

LABOR MARKET FLUIDITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134

Trends in Labor Market Fluidity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Potential Consequences of Reduced Fluidity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139

WAGE GROWTH AND JOB QUALITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Job Growth in 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Patterns in Wage Growth since the 1980s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..
The Rise of the Skill Premium and Employment Growth
in High- and Low-Skill Occupations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Broader Measures of Job Quality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

142
142
145
149

THE AGENDA FOR A STRONGER LABOR MARKET. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

CHAPTER 4
THE ECONOMICS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE
POLICIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
RECENT CHANGES IN AMERICAN FAMILY LIFE AND THEIR
IMPLICATIONS FOR WORK.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
12  |  Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

Attachment to the Labor Force and Educational
Attainment Have Increased Significantly Among American
Women. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Families Are Adjusting to New Caregiving Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
The Effects of Work-Family Conflict. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
ACCESS TO FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE POLICIES . . . . . . . . . 169
..

Access and Use of Leave in the United States. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Workplace Flexibility Access in the United States. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Disparities in Access to Paid Leave and Flexible Work
Arrangements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178

STATE AND LOCAL INITIATIVES TO EXPAND ACCESS TO WORKFAMILY FRIENDLY POLICIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184

State Paid Family Leave. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
State Paid Sick Leave. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Right-to-Request Provisions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189

THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE
POLICIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192

Impact of Leave and Flexibility on Worker Health and
Absenteeism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
The Role of Family-Friendly Policies in Worker Recruitment,
Retention, and Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
The Business Case for Wider Adoption of Flexible Workplace
Practices and Policies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199

CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201

CHAPTER 5
BUSINESS TAX REFORM AND ECONOMIC GROWTH. . . . . . . . . . . 203
THE SOURCES OF PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
THE HISTORICAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT FOR BUSINESS
TAX REFORM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
THE PRESIDENT’S APPROACH TO BUSINESS TAX REFORM. . . . . . . 217
THE POTENTIAL FOR BUSINESS TAX REFORM TO BOOST
PRODUCTIVITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219

Encouraging Domestic Investment .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Improving the Quality of Investment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Reducing the Inefficiencies of the International Tax System. . . .
Investing in Infrastructure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

219
224
231
234

FOUR ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO BUSINESS TAX REFORM.. 235

Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Contents  | 13

Cut the Top Individual Rate in Parallel with the
Corporate Rate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236
Adopt a Territorial Tax System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
Allow Expensing for New Investment.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238
CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239

CHAPTER 6
THE ENERGY REVOLUTION: ECONOMIC BENEFITS AND THE
FOUNDATION FOR A LOW-CARBON ENERGY FUTURE. . . . . . . . 241
THE ENERGY REVOLUTION: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE AND
ECONOMIC BENEFITS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243

The Energy Revolution in Historical Perspective. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
GDP, Jobs, and the Trade Deficit.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Energy Prices, Households, and Businesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..
Infrastructure Implications of the Energy Revolution. . . . . . . . . .

243
253
256
262

THE ENERGY REVOLUTION AND ENERGY SECURITY: A
MACROECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

Trends in Oil Import Prices and Shares . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
..
Macroeconomic Channels of Oil Price Shocks.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

A PATH TO A LOW-CARBON FUTURE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272

A Case for Climate Action. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Climate Action Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Reducing Emissions through Improved Efficiency. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Role of Natural Gas in Lowering CO2 Emissions.. . . . . . . . . .
Supporting Renewables, Nuclear, Cleaner Coal, and Cleaner
Transportation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
International Leadership.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

272
275
278
280
283
287

CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289

CHAPTER 7
THE UNITED STATES IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291
MULTILATERAL TRADE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293

The Growth of U.S. and World Trade. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294

FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297

Current Trade Negotiations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301

THE IMPLICATIONS OF TRADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304
..

Classic Gains from Trade. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304
The Labor Market Implications of Trade. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306

DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS OF TRADE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310

14  |  Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

Global Growth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gender Equality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Political Cooperation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Environmental Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..

311
312
313
313

FINANCIAL FLOWS.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316

Composition of International Capital Flows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 318
Challenges in Regulating Global Financial Markets . . . . . . . . . . . 324

CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 328

REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331

APPENDIXES
A.	
B.	

Report to the President on the Activities of the Council of
Economic Advisers During 2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365
Statistical Tables Relating to Income, Employment, and
Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

FIGURES
1.1a.	
1.1b. 	
1.2.	
1.3.	
1.4.	
1.5.	
1.6. 	
1.7. 	
1.8. 	
1.9. 	
1.10.	
2.1.	
2.2.	
2.3.	
2.4.	
2.5.	
2.6.	
2.7.	
2.8.	
2.9.	
2.10.	
2.11.	

Global Trade Flows in the Great Depression and Great Recession . . . 22
Household Net Worth in the Great Depression and Great Recession.23
Average Monthly Nonfarm Employment Growth, 2008-2014 . . . . . . . 27
Unemployment Rate and Consensus Forecasts, 2008-2014. . . . . . . . . . 28
Real Hourly Earnings, Production & Nonsupervisory Workers,
2010-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Real Median Family Income, 1985-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Growth in Real Average Income for the Bottom 90 Percent,
1950-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Labor Productivity Growth, 1951-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Share of Income Earned by Top 1 Percent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Prime-Age Male Labor Force Participation Rates, 1991-2013. . . . . . . . 37
Prime-Age Female Labor Force Participation Rates, 1991-2013. . . . . . 38
Unemployment Rate, 1975-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Mean GDP Growth, 2007-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Federal Budget Deficit, 1950-2016. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Market-Implied Date of Initial Federal Funds Rate
Increase, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Nominal Long- and Short-Term Interest Rates, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Falling Euro Area Inflation, 2011-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Euro Area Sovereign Interest Rate Spreads over Germany,
2007-2015. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Euro Area Unemployment and Real Interest Rates,
December 2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
China: Real GDP Growth, 1993-1994 60
Credit to Nonfinancial Corporations and Households,
2004-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Select Dollar Exchange Rates, 2000-2015 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Contents  | 15

2.12.	 Trade in Goods, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
2.13.	 Trade in Services, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
2.14a.	 Services and Goods Composition: Imports, 2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
2.14b.	 Services and Goods Composition: Exports, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
2.15.	 Household Deleveraging, 1990-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
2.16.	 Consumption and Wealth Relative to Disposable Personal
Income (DPI), 1950-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
2.17.	 Housing Starts, 1960-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
2.18.	 National House Price Indexes, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
2.19.	 Home Prices and Owners’ Equivalent Rent, 1975-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
2.20.	 U.S. Population Distribution by Age and Gender, 2013 Census. . . . . . 75
2.21.	 Home Builder Sentiment Index, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
2.22.	 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
2.23.	 Purchase and Refinance Activity, 2007-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
2.24.	 Capital Services per Unit of Real Output, Private Business
Sector, 1948-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
2.25.	 Share Buy Backs vs. Investment, Nonfinancial Corporate
Business, 1952-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
2.26.	 Real State and Local Government Purchases During Recoveries . . . . . 81
2.27.	 State and Local Pension Fund Liabilities, 1952-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
2.28.	 Nonfarm Payroll Employment, 2007-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
2.29.	 Unemployment Rate by Duration, 1990-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
2.30.	 Inflation and Inflation Expectations Ten Years Forward,
2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
2.31.	 Hourly Compensation Increases vs. Inflation Expectations,
2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
3.1.	 Actual and Consensus Forecast Unemployment Rate,
2008-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
3.2.	 Elevation and Recovery of Broader Measures of
Unemployment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
3.3.	 Unemployment in Non-U.S. OECD, Euro Area, and
United States, 2000-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
3.4.	 Average Monthly Job Growth by Year, 2007-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
3.5.	 Labor Force Participation by Gender, 1950-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
3.6.	 Labor Force Participation Decomposition, 2009-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
3.7.	 Detrended Participation Rate and (Inverted) Unemployment
Gap, 1960-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
3.8.	 Share of Recovery in Overall Unemployment Rate Due to
Declines in Short- and Long-Term Unemployment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
3.9.	 Unemployment Rate by Duration, 2000-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
3.10.	 Share of Unemployed Workers by Duration of Unemployment,
2002-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
3.11.	 Increase in Long-Term Unemployment as a Percent Increase in Overall
Unemployment Rate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
3.12.	 Long-term Unemployed as Share of Total Unemployed,
1960-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
3.13.	 Monthly Job Finding Rates by Duration of Unemployment in
Previous Month, December 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
3.14.	 Net Change in Employment Since January 2010, Household
Survey Estimates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

16  |  Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

3.15.	 Rates of Part-Time Work, 1960-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.16.	 Change in Share Part-Time for Economic Reasons Per
Percentage-Point Change in the Unemployment Rate,
1957-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.17.	 Share Part-Time for Economic Reasons, Actual and
Predicted, 2005-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.18.	 Share of Employees Working Part-Time for Economic
Reasons, by Industry, 1995-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.19.	 Hires, Separations, and Job-to-Job Flow Rates, 2000-2013 . . . . . . . . .
3.20.	 Job Opening Rates, 2000-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.21.	 Trends in Hires and Separations, 1995-2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.22.	 Employer, Occupation, and Industry Transitions, 1983-2013. . . . . . .
3.23.	 Firm and Establishment Entry Rates, 1978-2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.24.	 Change in Job Growth vs. Average Earnings by
Industry, 2013-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.25.	 Wage Inequality, 1979-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.26.	 College Income Premium by Gender, 1963-2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.27.	 Percent of Workers Receiving Employer-Sponsored or
On-the-Job Training, 1996-2008. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.28.	 Change in Employment by Detailed Occupation, 1989-2014 . . . . . . .
3.29.	 Changes in Employment by Occupational Wage
Percentile, 1979-2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.30.	 Share of Workers With an Offer of Employer-Sponsored
Insurance Coverage, by Education, 1997-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.31.	 Share of Workers Included in Employer-Provided
Retirement Plan, by Education, 1997-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.32.	 Share of Full-Time Workers Paid a Salary, 1979-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.1.	 Labor Force Participation by Sex, 1948-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.	 Percent of Young Men and Women with a Bachelor’s Degree
or Higher, 1964-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.	 Employed Married Women’s Contribution to Family
Earnings, 1970-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.4.	 Percent of Households with Children in Which All Parents
Work, 1968-2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.5.	 Fathers’ Reporting Role in Child Care Activities for
Selected Years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.6.	 Fathers’ Average Weekly Time Use. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.7.	 Percent of All Unpaid Eldercare Providers Who Are
Employed, 2011-2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.8.	 Share of Households with Children under 18 and Adults
Over 65, 1968-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.9.	 Percentage of Mothers and Fathers Reporting Work-Family
Conflict for Selected Years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.10.	 Percentage of Full-Time Workers Who Report Work-Family
Conflict for Selected Years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.11.	 Reason for Not Taking Needed Leave, 2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.12.	 Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility in the Scheduling
of Hours, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.13.	 Percent of Workers with Access to Flexible Work
Arrangements, 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

130
131
132
134
135
136
138
138
140
143
145
146
147
148
148
150
150
151
161
161
163
164
165
165
167
167
168
168
176
176
177

Contents  | 17

4.14.	 Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility in the Location of
Work, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.15.	 Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility in the Number of Hours
of Work, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.16.	 Access to Scheduling and Location Flexibility by
Industry, 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.17.	 Access to Paid and Unpaid Leave by Industry, 2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.18.	 Average Absence Rates With and Without Flexible
Work Scheduling, 1990. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.19.	 The Need for Workplace Flexibility, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.1.	 Sources of Productivity Growth Over Selected Periods,
1948-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2.	 Statutory Corporate Tax Rates in the U.S. and OECD,
1981-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3. 	 Statutory Corporate Income Rates, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.4. 	 Effective Tax Rates in the G-7, 2006-2009. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.5. 	 Effective Marginal Tax Rates in the G-7, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.6. 	 Effective Marginal Tax Rates in Several Tax Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.7. 	 Effective Marginal Tax Rates by Source of Financing, 2014. . . . . . . . .
5.8. 	 Effective Marginal Tax Rates, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.9. 	 C Corporation Share of Total Business Receipts, 1980-2011. . . . . . . .
6.1a. 	 U.S. Energy Consumption by Source, 1775-2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.1b.	 U.S. Energy Consumption by Source 2005-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.2a. 	 U.S. Petroleum Consumption, 1950-2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.2b. 	 U.S. Consumption of Motor Gasoline, 1950-2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.3. 	 U.S. Petroleum Production, 1950-2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.4.	 U.S. Petroleum Net Imports, 1950-2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.5.	 U.S. Natural Gas Production, 1950-2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.6.	 U.S. Fuel Ethanol and Biodiesel Consumption, 1981-2013. . . . . . . . .
6.7	 Petroleum, Biofuels, and Natural Gas Production, 2008–2013. . . . . .
6.8	 Change in Wind Power Generation Capacity, 2010-2013 . . . . . . . . . .
6.9	 Total Monthly Wind and Solar Energy Production,
2000–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.10	 Contributions of Oil and Natural Gas Production to GDP
Growth, 1995–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.11	 Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Employment, 1949–2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.12	 Solar-Related Employment, 2010–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.13	 Total and Petroleum Trade Deficits, 1995–2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.14	 Annual Crude Oil and Natural Gas Spot Prices, 1995–2015. . . . . . . .
6.15a	 Wholesale and Residential Natural Gas Prices, 1995–2014. . . . . . . . .
6.15b	 Retail Electricity Prices and Fuel Costs, 1995–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.16	 WTI Spot Price: Nominal and Real, 1970–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.17	 Net Import Shares of Petroleum Products, 1950–2013. . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.18	 Energy Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1980–2030. . . . . . . . . . . .
6.19	 U.S. Energy Intensity, 1950–2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.20a	 U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Gasoline and Real Gasoline
Prices, 2000–2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.20b	 Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.21	 U.S. Natural Gas Production and Wholesale Prices,
2011–2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

18  |  Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

179
179
181
181
195
197
207
207
208
209
210
212
228
230
232
245
245
246
246
247
248
249
250
251
251
252
253
254
255
256
257
258
258
268
269
279
279
281
281
282

6.22	 Change in Monthly Electricity Generation and Prices,
2008–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.23	 Monthly Share of Non-Hydro Renewables in Net Power
Generation, 2001–2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.24	 U.S. Motor Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Consumption,
2000–2030. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.25	 World Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1980–2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1	 Global GDP and Exports of Goods and Services, 1960–2013 . . . . . . .
7.2	 Ratio of U.S. Duties Collected to Total Imports, 1891–2013. . . . . . . .
7.3	 Global Tariff Rates by Income Group, 1988–2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.4	 U.S. Trade in Services, 1980-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.5	 Growth in Real U.S. Goods Trade Around Free Trade
Agreements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.6	 Characteristics of Export-Intensive and Non-Export-Intensive
Industries, 1989–2009. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.7	 Growth of Global GDP, Trade in Goods and Services,
and Financial Flows, 1985–2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.8	 U.S. Equity Home Bias, 2000–2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

282
285
287
289
294
295
296
297
302
307
317
323

TABLES
1.1	
1.2	
1.3	
2.1.	
2.2.	
2.3.	
3.1.	
3.2.	
3.3.	
3.4.	
4.1.	
4.2.	
4.3.	
4.4.	
4.5.	
4.6.	
5.1.	
6.1.	
7.1.	
7.2.	
7.3.	

Components of U.S. Real GDP Growth, Percent Change at
an Annual Rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Middle-Class Income Growth and its Determinants, 1948-2013 . . . . . 30
Counterfactual Scenarios for Productivity, Inequality, and
Participation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Selected Interest Rates, 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Administration Economic Forecast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Supply-Side Components of Actual and Potential Real GDP
Growth, 1953-2024. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Tracking the Recovery across Race, Gender, Age, and Level of
Educational Attainment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Comparison of Participation Rate Estimates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Wage and Earnings Gains Associated with Job Switching. . . . . . . . . . 141
Average Annual Percent Change in Real Productivity,
Compensation, and Wages, 1980-2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Access to Leave (ATUS), 2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Access to Leave (NCS), 2014. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
Leave Use and Hours, 2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Access to Leave and Workplace Flexibility by Demographic,
Educational, and Worker Characteristics, 2011. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
State Leave Policies as of January 2015 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Local Right to Request Laws. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
U.S. Controlled Foreign Corporation Profits Relative
to GDP, 2010. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
Major Oil Disruptions, 1973–2005. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
U.S. Free Trade Agreements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
Gross Global Financial Flows, 1985-2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
Additional Basel III Components. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327

Contents  | 19

BOXES
Box 1-1:	
Box 2-1:	
Box 2-2:	
Box 2-3:	
Box 2-4:	
Box 2-5:	
Box 2-6:	
Box 3-1:	
Box 3-2:	
Box 3-3:	
Box 3-4:	
Box 4-1:	
Box 4-2:	
Box 4-3:	
Box 4-4:	
Box 4-5:	
Box 4-6:	
Box 5-1:	
Box 5-2:	
Box 5-3:	
Box 5-4:	
Box 6-1:	
Box 6-2:	
Box 6-3:	
Box 7-1:	
Box 7-2:	
Box 7-3:	

Macroeconomic Rebalancing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
Private Domestic Final Purchases as a Predictive Indicator
of GDP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  45
International Comparison of Growth Performance  . . . . . . . . . . .  54
Imported Petroleum Prices and the Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  62
U.S. Household Wealth in the Wake of the Crisis and
Implications for Wealth Inequality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  70
Policy Proposals to Raise Long-Run Potential Output . . . . . . . . .  90
Forecasting the Long-Run Interest Rate  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  94
Unemployment Across Gender, Race, and Ethnicity Groups:
The Situation for Men of Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
Changes in Labor Force Participation for Different
Subpopulations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Post-Recession Participation in the United States and
United Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Immigration Reform and Labor Markets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
International Comparisons: Access to Paid Leave in
Other Countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
Why is There Such a Large Difference in Reported Prevalence
Between the American Time Use Survey, the National
Compensation Survey, and the National Study of Employers? . 174
Small Business and Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
January 2015 Presidential Initiatives to Expand Leave Access
for Federal Employees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Japan’s Strategy to Grow the Economy by Increasing
Women’s Involvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
Reimagining the Structure of Work at JetBlue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Corporate Inversions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Base Erosion and Profit Sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
Improving the Tax Code for Families  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
Temporary Countercyclical Policies to Promote Investment . . . 226
Natural Gas Exports  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
U.S. Oil Production in a Global Perspective, and Implications
for U.S. GDP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
Selected Administration Initiatives under the Climate
Action Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277
Trade in Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 298
Employment Impacts of Trade with China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308
Have U.S. Trade Deficits Reduced Output and Employment?  . 320

20  |  Economic Report of the President

C H A P T E R

1

MIDDLE-CLASS ECONOMICS:
THE ROLE OF PRODUCTIVITY,
INEQUALITY, AND
PARTICIPATION

A

s the 2015 Economic Report of the President goes to press, the U.S.
economic recovery continues to accelerate. The economy grew at an
annual rate of 2.8 percent over the past two years, compared with 2.1 percent
in the first three-and-one-half years of the recovery. The speedup is particu‑
larly clear in the U.S. labor market, where the pace of job gains has improved
each year since President Obama took office. The American private sector
has created 11.8 million new jobs over 59 straight months, the longest streak
on record. 2014 was the best year for overall job growth since 1999, usher‑
ing in 3.1 million new jobs, and the unemployment rate fell 1.3 percentage
points between 2013 and 2014, the largest decline in three decades. A reduc‑
tion in long-term unemployment, one of the economy’s major post-crisis
challenges, accounts for most of the fall in the unemployment rate.
As the U.S. recovery has progressed, the economy has grown in a more
sustainable way than before the global financial crisis began. In fact, the
United States has improved several structural imbalances that jeopardized
the economy’s stability prior to the crisis. The domestic energy production
boom has reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil, helping to narrow the
current account deficit and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign borrowing.
Health-care prices have been growing at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years.
The Federal Budget deficit has fallen at the fastest pace since the post-World
War II demobilization, and households are spending less of their income
servicing debts than they have in decades.
But one key benchmark of the economy goes beyond increases in
national income accounts and decreases in financial deficits: the wellbeing of the middle class and those working to get into the middle class.

21

It is essential that a broad range of households share in the United States’
resurgent growth. This year’s Report views the recovery through the lens of
the typical middle-class American family. It begins with a review of recent
economic progress and provides historical and international context for
the key factors impacting middle-class incomes: productivity growth, labor
force participation, and income inequality. The President’s approach to
economic policies, what he terms “middle-class economics,” is designed to
improve these elements and ensure that Americans of all income levels share
in the accelerating recovery.

The Progress of the U.S. Economic Recovery
After the global financial crisis, the United States and many other
countries faced obstacles to recovery that were more challenging than those
posed by a normal cyclical recession. Despite being hit particularly hard
by the financial crisis, the United States has recovered faster than many of
its developed-world counterparts. The recession began with a collapse in
household wealth and global trade that initially exceeded the declines at the
onset of the Great Depression, as shown in Figure 1-1a and Figure 1-1b. The
headwinds to recovery included weak bank balance sheets that constrained
credit supply, highly indebted consumers that constrained credit demand,
and substantial investment overhang in key cyclical sectors such as housing.
Figure 1-1a
Global Trade Flows in the Great Depression and Great Recession

Index, 1929/2008=100
120
110

2008=100

100
90
1929=100
80
70
60

0

12

24
36
48
60
Months from January 1929/2008

Note: Red markers represent annual averages.
Source: CPB World Trade Monitor; Statistical Office of the United Nations.

22  |  Chapter 1

72

84

Figure 1-1b
Household Net Worth in the Great Depression and Great Recession

Index, 1929/2008=100
140
130

2008=100

120
110
100
90
80

1929=100

70
60

0

12

24
36
48
60
Months from January 1929/2008

72

84

Note: Red markers represent annual averages.
Source: Federal Reserve Board of Governors; Mishkin (1978).

Table 1-1
Components of U.S. Real GDP Growth,
Percent Change at an Annual Rate
Start of Recovery
(2009:Q2-2012:Q4)

2013 and 2014
(2012:Q4-2014:Q4)

Gross Domestic Product

2.1

2.8

Consumer Spending

2.0

2.8

Business Fixed Investment

5.2

5.1

Residential Investment

5.9

4.7

Exports

7.4

3.5

Imports

6.8

3.9

Federal Government

- 0.6

- 3.1

State & Local Government

- 2.2

1.1

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts.

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  23

Box 1-1: Macroeconomic Rebalancing
A broad set of economic structural imbalances that pre-dated
the financial crisis have improved in the recovery. The United States
has reduced its indebtedness on four levels: in international trade (as
a net recipient of global capital flows), in gross national saving (as a
result of reduced Budget deficits), in the household sector, and in the
private-business sector. On top of recent acceleration in U.S. output and
employment growth, these structural improvements lay the foundation
for more sustainable growth beyond the current business cycle.
On the international side, the current account deficit as a share of
GDP—a measure of U.S. net transactions with the rest of the world in
goods, services, and income—increased steadily for nearly two decades,
but fell in the Great Recession and has continued to drift down in the
recovery. Recently, the deficit fell to the smallest share of GDP since the
1990s. Drivers of the recent decline include the domestic energy produc‑
tion boom and an increase in domestic saving that has reduced the U.S.
need for foreign financing.
Domestically, gross saving has increased as a share of the economy,
driven by the reduction in Federal dissaving amid the fastest pace of
deficit reduction since the demobilization after World War II. The pace
of discretionary spending reductions was faster than optimal, creating
challenges for growth. However, when taken together with factors such

Percent of GDP
2

Figure 1-i
Current Account Balance, 1970–2014

1
0
-1
-2

2014:Q3

-3
-4
-5
-6
-7
1970
1980
1990
2000
Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. International Transactions.

24  |  Chapter 1

2010

Percent of GDP
26

Figure 1-ii
Gross National Saving, 1970–2014

24
22
20

2014:Q3

18
16
14
12
1970
1980
1990
Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis.

2000

2010

Figure 1-iii
Household Debt Service Payments, 1980–2014

Percent of Disposable Income
14
13
12
11
10
9

8
1980
1990
2000
Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Federal Reserve, Financial Accounts of the United States.

2014:Q3

2010

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  25

Percent
80

Figure 1-iv
Nonfinancial Corporate Debt-to-Equity Ratio, 2000–2014

70
60
50
40
30
20
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
2010
Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Federal Reserve, Financial Accounts of the United States.

2014:Q3

2012

2014

as revenue increases from high-income households and slower health
cost growth, the economy is in a more sustainable position today com‑
pared with a few years ago.
While many households still face challenges, the aggregate ratio of
debt-to-disposable income in the household sector has decreased to a
level last seen in 2002, as households have both increased their savings
and reduced their borrowing. The combination of lower debt levels and
lower interest rates has reduced the aggregate value of households’ debtservice payments to 9.9 percent of disposable income, the lowest level
since at least 1980. America’s corporations have also partially shed their
debt burdens. Corporate debt-to-equity ratios in the non-financial sector
have retraced all of the increase that resulted from the crisis.

The recovery’s challenges were compounded by unprecedented State and
local government spending cuts that dragged on growth through the first
few years of the recovery. A wide range of shocks and slowdowns in other
countries have also restrained the U.S. recovery.

The Recovery in GDP and Labor Markets
Although there is more work to do, the U.S. economy has managed a
lasting and growing recovery amid these challenges. Despite the steeper ini‑
tial declines, both trade and wealth recovered faster after the Great Recession
26  |  Chapter 1

than during the Great Depression. In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. economy grew
0.7 percentage point faster per year than in the first three-and-one-half years
of the recovery. A large increase in personal consumption growth and a shift
from State and local contraction to expansion contributed to the pickup
over this period. More recently, growth in 2014 was aided by a shift toward
a more neutral stance for Federal fiscal policy, an important reminder of the
need for policymakers to avoid returning to the harmful impact of seques‑
tration and fiscal brinksmanship.
The recovery’s strength has been particularly pronounced in the labor
market. The pace of total job growth rose to 260,000 a month in 2014, up
from 199,000 a month in 2013, as shown in Figure 1-2.
As recently as 2013, most forecasters expected that the unemployment
rate would not fall to 5.6 percent until after 2017—but it did so in December
2014, as shown in Figure 1-3. The labor force participation rate has stabi‑
lized since fall 2013. Long-term unemployment and the number of workers
employed part-time for economic reasons – while still elevated – have also
declined.
These labor market improvements have begun to translate into wage
gains for middle-class workers. Average earnings for production and non‑
supervisory workers, shown in Figure 1-4, function as a reasonable proxy
Figure 1-2
Average Monthly Nonfarm Employment Growth, 2008–2014

Thousand Jobs per Month
300

173

200

188

199

2011

2012

2013

260

89

100
0
-100
-200
-300

-298

-400
-500

-424
2008

2009

2010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics; CEA calculations.

2014

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  27

Figure 1-3
Unemployment Rate and Consensus Forecasts, 2008–2014

Percent of Labor Force
11

2010 Forecast

10
9

2011 Forecast
2012 Forecast

8

2013 Forecast

7

2014 Forecast

6
5
4

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

Note: Annual forecasts are current as of March of the stated year. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Blue Chip Economic Indicators; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

Figure 1-4
Real Hourly Earnings,
Production & Nonsupervisory Workers, 2010–2014

Percent Growth, Annual Average
1.5
1.0
0.5

0.7

0.3

0.8

0.0
-0.5

-0.6

-1.0
-1.5

-1.5

-2.0
-2.5

2010

2011

2012

2013

Note: Dashed line represents 2001-2007 average.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics; CEA calculations.

28  |  Chapter 1

2014

Figure 1-5
Real Median Family Income, 1985–2013

Thousand 2013 Dollars Per Year
75

70

65

2013

60

55

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Dashed line traces the 2013 level of real median family income for comparison purposes.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports.

for median wages. Real hourly earnings for these workers rose 0.7 percent in
2013 and 0.8 percent in 2014.
This real wage growth, however, still falls well short of what is needed
to make up for decades of sub-par growth. Real median family incomes were
at mid-1990s levels in 2013, as shown in Figure 1-5. There is no denying the
strength of the aggregate recovery, but its benefits have not yet been fully
shared with middle-class families.

A Brief History of Middle-Class
Incomes in the Postwar Period
The ultimate test of an economy’s performance is the well-being of
its middle class. This in turn has been shaped by three factors: how pro‑
ductivity has grown, how income is distributed, and how many people are
participating in the labor force. Although many of these factors have evolved
continuously, varying from year to year, it is instructive to divide the postWorld War II years into three periods that capture major differences among
the trends in these three variables. Specifically, these periods are: the Age
of Shared Growth from 1948 to 1973, where movements in productivity,
participation, and distribution aligned; the Age of Expanded Participation
from 1973 to 1995, when women entered the labor force at a rapid pace but
Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  29

Table 1-2

Middle-Class Income Growth and its Determinants, 1948–2013

1948-1973

Age of
Expanded
Participation
1973-1995

Age of
Productivity
Recovery
1995-2013

Average Household Income for the
Bottom 90 Percent
(World Top Incomes Database)

2.8%

-0.4%

-0.2%

Median Household Income
(Census Bureau)

N/A

0.2%

0.0%

Median Household Income with Benefits
(CBO, adj. for household size)

N/A

0.4%

0.4%

N/A

0.7%

1.3%

Age of Shared
Growth
Real Middle-Class Income Growth

Median Household Income
with Gov't Transfers/Taxes
(CBO, adj. for household size)
Productivity Growth (annual rates)
Labor Productivity Growth

2.8%

1.4%

2.3%

Total Factor Productivity Growth

1.9%

0.4%

1.1%

Top 1 Percent

11.3% → 7.7%
-0.1 pp/yr

Income Shares

Bottom 90 Percent

7.7% → 13.5% 13.5% → 17.5%
+0.3 pp/yr
+0.2 pp/yr

66.3% → 68.1% 68.1% → 59.5% 59.5% → 53.0%
+0.1 pp/yr
-0.4 pp/yr
-0.4 pp/yr

Labor Force Participation Rate
Overall

59% → 61%
+0.1 pp/yr

61% → 67%
+0.3 pp/yr

67% → 63%
-0.2 pp/yr

Prime Age Male (25-54)

97% → 95%
-0.1 pp/yr

95% → 92%
-0.2 pp/yr

92% → 88%
-0.2 pp/yr

Prime Age Female (25-54)

35% → 52%
+0.7 pp/yr

52% → 76%
+1.1 pp/yr

76% → 74%
-0.1 pp/yr

Note: Income levels from the World Top Incomes Database and the Census Bureau are deflated with the CPIU-RS price index, and income levels from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are deflated with the
personal consumption expenditures price index. Income shares are provided by the World Top Incomes
Database, cited below, median household income is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, and median
household income including benefits, transfers, and taxes is provided by CBO. CBO median income is
extended before 1979 and after 2010 with the growth rate of Census median income.
Source: World Top Incomes Database; Census Bureau; Congressional Budget Office; Bureau of Labor
Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; CEA calculations; Saez (2015).

productivity slowed and distribution worsened; and the Age of Productivity
Recovery from 1995 through 2013, when productivity improved (at least
until the run-up to the financial crisis) but participation declined and
income inequality continued to worsen.

30  |  Chapter 1

The Age of Shared Growth (1948-1973)
All three factors—productivity growth, distribution, and participa‑
tion—aligned to benefit the middle class from 1948 to 1973. The United
States enjoyed rapid labor productivity growth, averaging 2.8 percent
annually. Income inequality fell, with the share of income going to the top
1 percent falling by nearly one-third, while the share of income going to the
bottom 90 percent rose slightly. Household income growth was also fueled
by the increased participation of women in the workforce. Prime-age (25
to 54) female labor force participation escalated from one-third in 1948 to
one-half by 1973. The combination of these three factors increased the aver‑
age income for the bottom 90 percent of households by 2.8 percent a year
over this period. This measure functions as a decent proxy for the median
household’s income growth because it ignores the large, asymmetric changes
in income for the top 10 percent of households. At this rate, incomes double
every 25 years, or about once every generation.
While these levels of shared income growth and low income inequality
worked to benefit the middle class, it is important to recognize that these fac‑
tors do not capture the many non-economic dimensions (such as racial and
gender discrimination) on which the United States has made considerable
progress over the past half-century. Accordingly, while this period illustrates
the combined power of productivity, income equality, and participation to
benefit the middle class, it is not necessarily a model for other important
aspects of domestic policy.

The Age of Expanded Participation (1973-1995)
Starting in 1973 and running through 1995, two of the three factors
that had been driving middle-class incomes derailed. Labor productivity
growth slowed dramatically to only 1.4 percent annually, in part due to
the exhaustion of pent-up innovations from World War II, reduced public
investment, dislocations associated with the breakup of the Bretton Woods
international monetary system, and the oil shocks of the 1970s. Not only
did the economy grow more slowly in these years, but these smaller gains
were distributed increasingly unequally—the share of national income that
went to the top 1 percent nearly doubled, while the share that went to the
bottom 90 percent fell accordingly. As a result, productivity gains did not
boost middle-class incomes and average income in the bottom 90 percent
declined by 0.4 percent a year during these years. One important factor that
prevented a larger fall in middle-class incomes was greater labor force par‑
ticipation. The share of dual-income households rose as women surged into
the labor force even faster than in the Age of Shared Growth.

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  31

Some alternative and likely more accurate measures of middle-class
income show slight increases during these years. Real median household
income as measured by the Census Bureau rose by 0.2 percent a year from
1973 to 1995. And after including employer-paid health premiums and
adjusting for changing family size, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
estimates that median income climbed 0.4 percent a year, and 0.7 percent a
year after taxes and transfers. But regardless of how it is measured, middleclass income growth clearly slowed dramatically over this period.

The Age of Productivity Recovery (1995-2013)
The third period is defined as lasting from 1995 through 2013, though
it will take a longer perspective to understand whether and how the Great
Recession and the current recovery fit into this period. Amid the worst
recession since the Great Depression, the average real income for house‑
holds in the bottom 90 percent declined at a 0.2 percent annual rate during
these years. When including employer-paid health premiums and adjusting
for family size, median income rose 0.4 percent a year according to CBO
data, still considerably slower than in the Age of Shared Growth. Largely as
a result of substantial tax cuts, post-tax and post-transfer incomes rose at a
1.3-percent average annual rate in this third period.
Labor productivity grew at a 2.3 percent annual rate over the period
as a whole, near the rates achieved in the first era, fueled by a new economy
that made unprecedented advances in the production and use of informa‑
tion technology. However, these gains did little to contribute to rising wages
for the middle class as the trend of worsening inequality from the previous
era continued into this period. The share of income going to the bottom 90
percent fell to 53 percent, well below the 68 percent earned by this group in
1973. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate fell as women’s entry
into the workforce plateaued and even started to drift down, albeit at onehalf the pace of the decline in prime-age male participation, a notable trend
over the entire postwar era. After 2008, the retirement of the baby boomers
added to the decline in participation.
While productivity growth was high on average from 1995 to 2013,
it varied substantially within this period. It was higher from 1995 to 2005,
declined prior to the start of the crisis, and then was adversely affected by
the crisis itself. Understanding the degree to which the years 1995 through
2013 should be considered a single regime for the productivity growth rate,
or one with an adverse break in the trend during or just before the crisis, will
take many more years of data and analysis.

32  |  Chapter 1

The Importance of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation
As productivity, the income distribution, and participation evolved
over the past 65 years, middle-class incomes went from doubling once in
a generation to showing almost no growth at all by some measures. But if
these three factors had recently continued the strong trends observed in ear‑
lier periods, the outcome for typical families would be quite different. Four
counterfactual thought experiments give a sense of the magnitudes involved
in this dramatic change:
•  The impact of higher productivity growth. What if productivity growth
from 1973 to 2013 had continued at its pace from the previous 25 years? In
this scenario, incomes would have been 58 percent higher in 2013. If these
gains were distributed proportionately in 2013, then the median household
would have had an additional $30,000 in income.
•  The impact of greater income equality. What if inequality had not
increased from 1973 to 2013, and instead the share of income going to the
bottom 90 percent had remained the same? Even using the actual slow levels
of productivity growth over that period, the 2013 income for the typical
household would have been 18 percent, or about $9,000, higher.
•  The impact of expanded labor force participation. What if female labor
force participation had continued to grow from 1995 to 2013 at the same rate
that it did from 1948 to 1995 until it reached parity with male participation?
Assuming that the average earnings for working women were unchanged,
and maintaining the actual histories of productivity and income distribu‑
tion, the average household would have earned 6 percent more in 2013, or
an additional $3,000.
•  The combined impact of all three factors. Finally, if all three factors
had aligned—if productivity had grown at its Age of Shared Growth rate,
inequality had not increased, and participation had continued to rise—then
these effects would have been compounded and the typical household would
have seen a 98-percent increase in its income by 2013. That is an additional
$51,000 a year.
In combination, these factors would have nearly doubled the typical
household’s income had they sustained their more favorable readings from
earlier historical periods. Productivity, inequality, and participation consti‑
tute the fundamental challenges facing the future of middle-class incomes,
and this year’s Report addresses policies designed to strengthen all three. But
first, this chapter situates the United States’ recent progress in these dimen‑
sions in a global context.

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  33

Table 1-3
Counterfactual Scenarios for Productivity, Inequality, and Participation
Percentage
Income Gain to
Impact on 2013 Typical 2013
Average Income
Household

Thought
Experiment

Factor

Base Period

Impact of
Higher Growth

Total Factor
Productivity
Growth

Age of Shared Growth
(1948-73)

58%

$30,000

Impact of
Greater Equality

Share of Income
Earned by
Middle Quintile

1973

18%

$9,000

Impact of Labor
Force
Participation

Female Labor
Force
Participation
Rate

Age of Shared Growth,
Age of Expanded
Participation (1948-95)

6%

$3,000

Combined
Impact

All of the
Above

98%

$51,000

Note: These thought experiments are intended to demonstrate the importance of these three factors for middleclass incomes. They do not consider second-order effects or interactive effects. The first thought experiment
assumes that an increase in productivity is associated with an equal increase in the Census Bureau’s mean
household income. The second thought experiment uses the Census Bureau’s mean income of the middle
quintile as a proxy for median income. The third thought experiment assumes that newly-participating women
will have the same average earnings as today’s working women, and halts the growth of female labor force
participation when it matches male participation. The first and third thought experiments assume that income
gains are distributed proportionally such that mean and median incomes grow at the same rate. Dollar gains
are calculated off a base of the Census Bureau’s median household income in 2013. The fourth thought
experiment compounds the effects of the first three.
Source: World Top Incomes Database; Census Bureau; Congressional Budget Office; Bureau of Labor
Statistics, Current Population Survey; Bureau of Economic Analysis; CEA calculations.

The Drivers of Middle-Class Incomes:
An International Comparison
A wide range of advanced economies has faced similar challenges
for middle-class incomes. Most of today’s large advanced economies expe‑
rienced rapid growth in the immediate post-World War II years followed
by substantially slower growth and plateauing, as shown in Figure 1-6.
That development took place relatively early in the United States (around
1973) and later in other countries (for example, around 1980 in France and
Canada). In Japan, middle-class incomes slowed in the 1970s and have sub‑
stantially declined over the past two decades.

Labor Productivity Growth
The first driver of incomes—labor productivity growth—underlies the
progress of both potential GDP and family income. Over the past year, the

34  |  Chapter 1

Figure 1-6
Growth in Real Average Income for the Bottom 90 Percent, 1950–2013

Index, 1950=100 (log scale)
6
600
6
6
500
6
6
400
6
6
6
300
6
6
5
5
200
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
100
5
4
4
4
1950
1960
1970

Japan
Germany
France

Italy

United Kingdom

Canada

2013

United States

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: Data for all countries exclude capital gains. For Germany, data excluding capital gains is
unavailable after 1998, so this chart displays data including capital gains adjusted for the historical
relationship between capital-inclusive and capital-exclusive incomes. Italian data begins in 1974 and is
indexed to the average of the other series at that point. Italian data is calculated by CEA from the income
level and share of the top 10 percent as provided by the World Top Incomes Database.
Source: World Top Incomes Database; Saez (2015); CEA calculations.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced their productivity growth
estimates for many high-income countries. In recent years, the United States
has been somewhat better situated than many other advanced economies,
in part because this country has been the center of much high-tech innova‑
tion. In fact, the United States has defied the trend in other high-income
economies by experiencing a pickup in productivity growth over the last 20
years. In contrast, productivity growth has generally declined in most other
high-income economies over the same period, as shown in Figure 1-7.

Income Inequality
The second important factor influencing the dynamics of middle-class
incomes is inequality. This, too, is a global issue. In the United States, the
top 1 percent has garnered a larger share of income than in any other G-7
country in each year since 1987 for which data are available, as shown in
Figure 1-8. From 1990 to 2010, the top 1 percent’s income share rose 0.22
percentage point a year in the United States versus 0.14 percentage point a
year in the United Kingdom. While comparable international data are scarce
after 2010, the gains of the top 1 percent continued since then in the United
States, until a noticeable downtick in 2013.

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  35

Figure 1-7
Labor Productivity Growth, 1951–2013

15-Year Centered Moving Average of Annual Percentage Growth in Output per Hour
9

Germany

8

France

7

Italy

6

United Kingdom
Canada

5

Japan

4

United States

3

1999-2013

2
1

0

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

Source: Conference Board, Total Economy Database; CEA calculations.

2000

2010

Labor Force Participation
The third driver of income growth is labor force participation, dis‑
cussed in more detail in Chapter 3. Although the United States has enjoyed
a strong labor market recovery amid surging employment, its labor force
participation rate has fallen more than that of other high-income countries.
The recent decline in the labor force participation rate is largely
the result of demographic changes. Since 2008, when the first of the baby
boomers turned 62 and became eligible for Social Security, the baby boom
has become a retirement boom. This loss of productive workers was com‑
pounded by the severe recession that hit around the same time. But even
before either of these events, the economy already faced labor force par‑
ticipation challenges, including a long-running decline in male labor force
participation and an end to the rapid increase in female participation.
Since the early 1990s, the United States has experienced a marked
decline in labor force participation among males aged 25 to 54 (“prime
age”), as shown in Figure 1-9. In this regard, the U.S. experience has been
something of an outlier compared to many other high-income countries.
Since the financial crisis, U.S. prime-age male participation has declined
by about 2.5 percentage points, while the United Kingdom has seen a small
uptick and most large European economies were generally stable. Of 24

36  |  Chapter 1

Percent
20

Figure 1-8
Share of Income Earned by Top 1 Percent, 1975–2013
United States
Canada
Italy
Germany

15

United Kingdom
France
Japan

2013

10

5

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Data for all countries exclude capital gains. For Germany, data excluding capital gains is
unavailable after 1998, so this chart displays data including capital gains adjusted for the historical
relationship between the capital-inclusive and capital-exclusive ratios.
Source: World Top Incomes Database; Saez (2015).

Figure 1-9
Prime-Age Male Labor Force Participation Rates, 1991–2013

Percent
100

Japan
95

2013

France

Germany
Canada

90

United Kingdom

Italy
United States

85
1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

2010

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  37

Figure 1-10
Prime-Age Female Labor Force Participation Rates, 1991–2013

Percent
90

2013

Canada

France

80

70

United Kingdom
United States

Germany
Japan

60

Italy
50
1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

2010

OECD countries that reported prime-age male participation data between
1990 and 2013, the United States fell from 16th to 22nd.
The story is somewhat similar among prime-age females. Historically,
the United States showed leadership in bringing women into the workforce.
In 1990, the United States ranked 7th out of 24 current OECD countries
reporting prime-age female labor force participation, about 8 percentage
points higher than the average of that sample. But since the late 1990s,
women’s labor force participation plateaued and even started to drift down
in the United States while continuing to rise in other high-income countries,
as shown in Figure 1-10. As a result, in 2013 the United States ranked 19th
out of those same 24 countries, falling 6 percentage points behind the United
Kingdom and 3 percentage points below the sample average. A recent
study found that the relative expansion of family leave and part-time work
programs in other OECD countries versus the United States explains nearly
one-third of the United States’ relative decline (Blau and Kahn 2013).
The challenges facing productivity growth, inequality, and labor force
participation are all substantial. As this Report further details, the United
States has important structural opportunities that can help address each of
the challenges, though the degree to which we do so will also depend on the
policies that we choose to adopt.

38  |  Chapter 1

The 2015 Economic Report of the President
The well-being of the middle class and those working to get into the
middle class is the ultimate test of an economy’s performance. The best
way to grow the economy on a sustainable and inclusive basis is to address
squarely the three drivers of incomes: productivity growth, income inequal‑
ity, and labor force participation. With these factors in mind, this year’s
Report reviews the progress the economy has made and identifies the areas
where more work is needed.
Chapter 2 reviews the macroeconomic performance of the U.S.
economy during 2014, including the growth of output and employment,
the continued decline in the unemployment rate, the housing market, the
growth of wealth over the year, and the improvement in the deficit as a
fraction of GDP. The chapter also explains the economic assumptions about
future growth that underlie the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, includ‑
ing the economic benefits of the President’s agenda.
Chapter 3 reviews the opportunities and challenges facing the U.S.
labor market. Perhaps no recent economic development has been more sur‑
prising than the rapid fall in the unemployment rate, spurred by the pickup
in the rate of job growth in 2014. But economic performance must be gauged
by more than just the unemployment rate—a successful job market also
encourages labor force participation, supports quality jobs, and facilitates
effective job matching of workers and positions.
The American workforce and family lives have changed drastically
over the last half-century. Women now represent almost one-half the
workforce, married couples increasingly share child-care responsibilities,
and people live—and work—longer than in the past. Chapter 4 examines
these recent changes in American family life and their implications for labor
markets. It also as analyzes Americans’ access to paid leave and workplace
flexibility policies and the economic evidence on how these policies can
benefit workers, firms, and our economy. Both Chapter 3 and Chapter 4
address two factors affecting middle-class incomes: labor force participation
and the income distribution.
Chapter 5 shifts the focus to productivity growth with an examination
of business tax reform as well as a briefer discussion about the complemen‑
tary issues in individual taxation. The chapter summarizes the international
context for business tax reform, describes the President’s approach to
reform, and documents four channels through which reform can boost pro‑
ductivity and living standards: encouraging domestic investment, improving
the quality of investment, reducing the inefficiencies of the international tax
system, and investing in infrastructure.

Middle-Class Economics: The Role of Productivity, Inequality, and Participation   |  39

Chapter 6 reviews the profound transformation of the U.S. energy
sector. The United States is producing more oil and natural gas, generating
more electricity from renewables such as wind and solar, and consuming
less petroleum while consuming the same amount of electricity. To build
on this progress, to foster economic growth, and to ensure that growth is
sustainable for future generations, the President has set out an aggressive allof-the-above clean energy strategy. This chapter lays out the key elements of
the strategy: enhancing energy security and laying the foundation for a lowcarbon future in ways that also support economic growth and job creation.
Finally, Chapter 7 situates the United States in the context of the
global economy. The United States is more integrated with the rest of the
world than ever before. This chapter examines the impact on the economy of
increased global interdependence, through both international trade in goods
and services and financial transactions in international capital markets.
It presents empirical evidence on the economic effects and benefits to the
middle class of enhanced U.S. trade, highlighting the United States’ central
position to take advantage of the growth in world trade in services. These
issues are important for understanding both productivity growth and the
distributional implications of globalization.

Conclusion
The 2015 Economic Report of the President considers the recovery
and our economic future from the perspective of the typical American fam‑
ily. Although workers have begun to reap the benefits of our accelerating
recovery, a skewed income distribution and subdued labor force participa‑
tion have restrained the full benefit of U.S. growth from accruing to the
middle class. As the economy continues to grow, President Obama’s focus
on middle-class economics is designed to foster productivity growth in a
shared and sustainable way, so that the typical family participates fully in
the Nation’s resurgence. These are the values that should drive American
economic policy in this next age for the middle class, and they are the values
that animate this Report.

40  |  Chapter 1

C H A P T E R

2

THE YEAR IN REVIEW AND
THE YEARS AHEAD

T

he U.S. economy took another major step forward in 2014 as it
continued to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great
Depression. Real gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at a solid
2.8-percent annual pace over the past two years, a pickup from the 2.0-per‑
cent pace seen during the 12 quarters of 2010 through 2012. The labor
market firmed markedly during 2014, as reflected in the fastest pace of job
gains since 1999 and nearly the fastest decline in the unemployment rate
since 1983. Cumulatively, the private sector added 11.5 million jobs during
59 consecutive months (through December 2014) of positive job growth,
the nation’s longest streak of uninterrupted private-sector job growth on
record. The unemployment rate declined 1.1 percentage points during the
12 months of 2014, or almost an average of 0.1 percentage point a month,
falling to 5.6 percent by year end (see Figure 2-1). Real average hourly earn‑
ings of production and nonsupervisory workers rose 1.5 percent over the 12
months of the year, as nominal wage growth continued to run somewhat
ahead of the subdued pace of consumer price inflation. While substantial
progress has been made, the economic recovery remains incomplete, and
more work remains to support growth, boost job creation, and lift wages.
The strengthening of the labor market occurred while real GDP grew
2.5 percent during the four quarters of 2014. The quarterly pace of economic
growth was uneven as unusually cold and snowy weather contributed to a
first-quarter drop in real GDP (at a 2.1-percent annual rate). The economy
rebounded in the second and third quarters at a nearly 5.0-percent annual
rate, followed by a slowing to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter (advance
estimate).
Growth in consumer spending, business fixed investment, and exports
sustained average aggregate demand growth during the four quarters of
2014, albeit with substantial quarter-to-quarter fluctuations. Inventory
investment proved uneven. The State and local sector bottomed out in 2012
41

Figure 2-1
Unemployment Rate, 1975–2014

Percent
11

10
9
8
7
6
Dec-2014

5
4
3
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

2000

2005

2010

and 2013, and provided a bit of support for the economy in 2014. Although
slow growth among our international trading partners limited the growth of
foreign demand, U.S. exports still grew 2 percent during the four quarters
of the year. Manufacturing production also grew 4.5 percent during the four
quarters as annual motor vehicle assemblies reached 11.7 million units in
2014, their highest level since 2005.
The price of imported petroleum, as measured by the spot price of
European light crude oil from the North Sea (known as Brent), averaged
$108 per barrel during the first eight months of the year but fell to $63 per
barrel for the month of December. The price decline reflected both increased
global supply, including U.S. production, and weak world consumption, and
it lowered the Nation’s net petroleum bill by roughly $70 billion at an annual
rate and dampened headline inflation in the final months of the year.
Although fiscal restraint continued in fiscal year (FY) 2014 with the
Federal Budget deficit falling 1.3 percentage points to 2.8 percent of GDP,
the restraint was less severe than during the two preceding years and mostly
reflected the effects of automatic stabilizers rather than changes in the
structural deficit. The cumulative five-year (2009 to 2014) decline in the
deficit-to-GDP ratio was the steepest five-year drop since the demobilization
following WWII. Following the October 2013 government shutdown, the
two-year Ryan-Murray budget agreement (in December 2013) helped pro‑
vide fiscal-policy stability during FY 2014 and FY 2015. The Consolidated
42  |  Chapter 2

and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, signed into law in December
2014, will help to extend this more stable fiscal environment into 2015. By
the fourth quarter of 2014, consumer sentiment, as measured by both the
Reuters/University of Michigan index and the Conference Board index,
reached its highest levels since 2007, which likely reflects the additional fiscal
certainty, improving income and employment expectations, and declining
gasoline prices.

Key Events of 2014
Aggregate Output Growth during the Year
Growth during the year was volatile partly due to exceptionally severe
weather in the first quarter and a puzzling first-quarter decline in reported
health-care spending, followed by a surge in growth as the level of real out‑
put rebounded in subsequent quarters. Cold weather played a major role in
depressing GDP in the first quarter; in fact, it was the third most unusually
cold quarter in the past 60 years. Four snowstorms in the first quarter were
severe enough to be rated on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, an index
produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that
aims to capture the economic impact of snowstorms on populations. Prior
to 2014, no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms.
The bad weather appears to have reduced many of the weather-sensitive
components of GDP. Outright real spending declines occurred in inventory
investment, equipment investment, residential investment (mostly reflecting
a drop in real estate commissions), exports (especially to Canada), and State
and local government spending (mostly through construction spending).
Also, real consumer spending on goods registered below-trend growth.
Weakness in these categories was only partially offset by higher consumer
spending on services, which rose owing to a weather-related increase in
electric and natural gas utility outlays.
Growth rebounded to 4.6- and 5.0-percent annual rates in the second
and third quarters followed by a 2.6-percent rate in the fourth quarter. Over
the four quarters of the year, real GDP grew 2.5 percent. Figure 2-2 shows
the growth rate of real output, as represented by the average of the incomeside and product-side measures.1 Measured in this way, real output grew 2.5
percent during the first three quarters of 2014, up slightly from 2.3 percent
1 Real output can be measured as the sum of the product-side components (known as gross
domestic product, GDP) or by the sum of the income-side components (known as gross
domestic income, GDI). In principle, these two quantities are the same, but these two measures
will differ due to measurement error. Figure 2-2 plots both measures and their average.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  43

Figure 2-2
Mean GDP Growth, 2007–2014

Percent Change at an Annual Rate
8
6
4
2
0

2014:Q3

4.8
1.8

0.6

0.2

-2

-1.0

2.2

1.6

0.9
-0.4

4.0

3.4

4.0
2.4

3.2

2.1
1.7

1.1
-0.3

4.7

1.1

1.9

2.2

4.8

4.3
2.7

2.1

-0.5

-1.4

-1.8

-4
-6

-5.7

-8
-10

-7.9

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Note: Mean real GDP growth is the average of the growth rates of real GDP and real gross domestic
income (GDI). The bullets show mean GDP and the bars show the GDP and GDI
growth in each quarter. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts; CEA calculations.

2015

during the four quarters of 2013. Relative to this 2.5-percent pace, growth
was fast in durable goods consumption and business fixed investment while
growth was slow (but still positive) in consumer spending on nondurables
and services, exports, Federal nondefense purchases, and State and local
spending. Residential investment grew at about the same pace as overall
GDP. Inventory investment (both farm and nonfarm) contributed a bit to
GDP growth during 2014, and it played an important role in the quarterto-quarter fluctuations. An aggregate of consumption and fixed investment,
known as private domestic final purchases (PDFP), is an especially predic‑
tive indicator of future real GDP growth. Real PDFP grew 3.2 percent dur‑
ing the four quarters of 2014 (see Box 2-1).

Fiscal Policy
Federal fiscal policy was less restrictive during FY 2014—which ended
on September 30, 2014—than a year earlier. It was also more predictable,
since Congress had agreed in December 2013 on discretionary spending
caps for the remainder of FY 2014 and all of FY 2015; and on appropria‑
tions bills for FY 2014 and FY 2015, enacted in January and December 2014,
respectively.
The agreement to end the 16-day October 2013 shutdown
(the  Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014), together with subsequent
44  |  Chapter 2

Box 2-1: Private Domestic Final Purchases
as a Predictive Indicator of GDP
Real GDP, like many indicators, can be volatile from quarter-toquarter for purely transitory reasons related to fluctuations or measure‑
ment issues that provide little information about the underlying state of
the economy. As discussed in the text, 2014 provides an example with
a sharp contraction in GDP in the first quarter of 2014 and a sharp
expansion in the second quarter, suggesting a fluctuation around an
underlying economic trend. One reason why GDP is so volatile is that
subcomponents can have large transitory fluctuations, for example, the
volatile inventory investment component of GDP, which subtracted
from the first quarter of 2014 and added to it in the second quarter.
Table 2-i
Component Ability to Forecast One-Quarter-Ahead
Real GDP Growth
Predictive Power
Component (Real)
2
(Adjusted R ) of GDP
Government
-0.02
Exports
0.02
Inventories
0.02
GDP
0.22
Final Sales of Dometic Product
0.23
Imports
0.28
Fixed Investment
0.29
Mean Output (GDP, GDI)
0.29
PCE
0.30
GDI
0.31
Final Sales to Domestic Purchasers
0.33
Final Sales to Private Domestic Purchasers
(PDFP)
0.36

Note: Mean output refers to the average of GDP and GDI. The quarterly growth rate of real GDP is
regressed on four lags of growth rates for the listed variables over 1984:Q1 to 2014:Q4, using revised
data.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts; CEA Calculations.

Do other national income concepts provide a better gauge of the
underlying trend in economic activity? One way to assess this is to deter‑
mine which factors provide the best prediction of one-quarter ahead real
GDP growth, thereby capturing the more inertial component or compo‑
Sorted
nents of GDP. Of the candidates, one might consider lags of overall real
component
value
-0.01
GDP itself, Government
or the lagged values of individual spending-side components
Exports
0.01
of real GDP (consumer spending, fixed investment, and government
Inventories
0.02
0.22
spending). GDP might also consider the income-side measure of real
One
Final Sales of Dometic Product
0.23
GDP, known as gross domestic income (GDI), which would be identical
Imports
0.28
Fixed measurement error. The best predictor could be some
0.29
to GDP but forInvestment
Mean Output (GDP, GDI)
0.29
combination of these components.
PCE
0.31
GDI
Final Sales to Domestic Purchasers
Final Sales to Private Domestic Purchasers (PDFP)
Net Exports

0.31
0.32
0.36
n/a

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  45

128.249
127.256

Table 2-i above shows how well lagged growth rates of these
variables predict one-quarter ahead overall GDP growth, as measured by
percent of the variance of GDP (known as R2) explained by each of these
candidates. On this scale, a perfect predictor would have an R2 of 1, and
a variable with no correlation would have an R2 of 0. Among the possi‑
bilities shown in Table 2-i, consumer spending and fixed investment are
good predictors of future GDP. The best-fitting predictor, however, is an
aggregate of these two variables called private domestic final purchases
(PDFP). This is likely attributable to the fact that PDFP excludes the
volatile and possibly inaccurate measures of exports, imports, inventory
investment, and government spending. It therefore equals the sum of
consumption and fixed investment. As can be seen, PDFP predicts future
GDP growth better than the lags of GDP itself, GDI, or a simple average
of GDP and GDI. PDFP also predicts GDP better than final sales (GDP
less inventory investment) and all the other components of GDP.
Figure 2-i below illustrates that real PDFP growth is much more
stable than real GDP growth. Although PDFP growth was low in the
first quarter of 2014 (because weather affected consumption and fixed
investment), it was not negative because PDFP excludes volatile com‑
ponents like inventory investment. PDFP then rebounded in the second
and third quarters but not by as much as GDP. In the second, third, and
fourth quarters, growth of PDFP was stable at 3.8, 4.1, and 3.9 percent,
respectively. In contrast, real GDP growth was more volatile, surging to
Figure 2-i
PDFP versus GDP Growth, 2012–2014

Percent Change, Annual Rate
6

2014:Q4

5
3.9

4
3

Real PDFP
Growth
2.2

2

1.8

1.6

2.1

3.4

2.5

2.7

2.7

2.3

4.6
3.8

3.5

4.1

2.8

3.9
2.6

1.8
1.0

1

0.1

0

Standard Deviation
(2012:Q1-2014:Q4)
GDP: 2.0
PDFP: 1.0

-1

-2
-3

Real GDP 4.5 4.2
Growth

5.0

2012:Q1

2012:Q3

2013:Q1

-2.1

2013:Q3

2014:Q1

2014:Q3

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts of the United States;
CEA calculations.

46  |  Chapter 2

5.0 percent in the third quarter boosted by defense and net exports, and
then slowing to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter when these components
reversed direction. Overall, the growth rate of PDFP is more stable than
GDP, allowing a reasonable quarter-by-quarter measure of the underly‑
ing growth rate of the economy.

agreements reached in December 2013 and the following January, sus‑
pended the debt ceiling through March 2015, provided partial relief from
the automatic sequestration of discretionary spending in fiscal years 2014
and 2015, and resulted in appropriations bills that funded the Federal
Government through the end of FY 2014. In September, Congress passed a
continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11, 2014.
Finally, in mid-December, the 113th Congress passed and the President
signed an appropriations bill that funded most of the Federal Government
through the end of FY 2015. This legislation provided positive support to a
number of key initiatives, including the extension of the FY 2014 funding
gains for early childhood education, investment in manufacturing innova‑
tion hubs around the country, and provision of additional funding for key
financial watchdogs like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and
Securities and Exchange Commission.2 In addition, Congress retroactively
approved a variety of tax “extenders” that affected 2014 liabilities, including
incentives for research and development and clean energy, and tax deduc‑
tions for teacher expenses.
The five-year decline of 7.0 percentage points in the deficit-to-GDP
ratio since FY 2009 has been the largest since the demobilization at the end
of World War II. The Federal deficit-to-GDP ratio fell 1.3 percentage points
to 2.8 percent in FY 2014. The year-to-year reduction in this ratio followed
steeper declines of 1.7 and 2.7 percentage points in fiscal years 2012 and
2013, respectively (see Figure 2-3). The deficit-to-GDP ratio in FY 2009
was elevated by the steep recession as well as by fiscal measures deployed to
combat that recession. Overall, fiscal support substantially raised the level
of output and employment during and after 2009, as discussed in the 2014
Economic Report of the President (Chapter 3). But the reduction in the deficit
has acted as a drag on growth rates, especially in 2013. One source of fiscal
drag during 2012 and 2013 was the end of various countercyclical fiscal
policies following the recession, the largest change being the expiration of
the payroll tax cut at the end of 2012. The declining deficit in 2014 largely
2 http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/17/
omb-director-shaun-donovan-passage-hr-83-consolidated-and-further-continuing-appropr

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  47

Percent of GDP
12

Figure 2-3
Federal Budget Deficit, 1950–2016

10

8
6
4

2

FY 2016

0

-2
-4
-6

-8
1950

1960

1970

1980
1990
Fiscal Year

2000

2010

Note: Orange markers denote administration forecasts.
Source: Office of Management and Budget; Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and
Product Accounts.

reflected an increase in tax collections resulting from growing incomes.
With the deficit-to-GDP ratio projected to edge up in FY 2015, before it
edges down in FY 2016, fiscal drag is likely to be negligible in the near term.

Monetary Policy
In 2014, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) maintained a
historically accommodative monetary policy stance. With its usual tool—the
Federal funds rate—at its effective lower bound, the Committee continued
to employ the unconventional policy tools it has introduced in the years
since the global financial crisis. These tools included forward guidance for
the future path of the Federal funds rate and additional purchases of longerterm U.S. Treasury securities and agency-guaranteed mortgage-backed
securities.
As the U.S. economy increasingly showed evidence of strength,
however, the Federal Reserve moved gradually to tighten monetary policy.
At its December 2013 meeting, the FOMC announced a decision to reduce
the monthly increase in its holdings of long-term securities by $10 billion
a month to $75 billion a month. This tapering of asset purchases contin‑
ued with further modest reductions in the monthly pace of purchases at
each FOMC meeting through October 2014, when new purchases were
discontinued entirely. As of February 2015, the Federal Reserve continues
48  |  Chapter 2

to purchase long-term debt securities, but only in amounts sufficient to
replace maturing debt in its portfolio, such that the overall size of the Federal
Reserve’s holdings remains approximately constant. Plans for the taper were
communicated to markets beforehand and markets experienced little vola‑
tility in response to the actual reductions in purchases when they started in
December 2013. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell 69 basis points
over the 12 months of the year.
The end of new Federal Reserve asset purchases does not mean the
end of the effect of the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings on the level of lon‑
ger-term interest rates. On the contrary, the better measure of the effect of
the Fed’s portfolio policy on longer-term interest rates is thought to involve
the size and expected duration of the Fed’s holdings, not the pace at which
those holdings are increased.  Therefore, the stock of Federal Reserve asset
holdings continues to influence the long-term interest rate even after the end
of new purchases.3
At the start of 2014, interest-rate futures markets expected the initial
increase (liftoff) in the Federal funds rate to occur during the second quarter
of 2015, as shown in Figure 2-4. By the end of 2014, markets expected the
liftoff to occur in the third quarter of 2015. The shift likely reflected the slow‑
down in global growth and the Committee’s indication that it can be patient
in beginning to normalize policy even after the end of the asset purchase
program.   The Committee has emphasized that future policy will remain
dependent on incoming economic data.

Financial Markets
Developments in U.S. financial markets over the course of the year
largely reflected the evolving global economic outlook and shifting monetary
policy expectations. Longer-term interest rates, as measured by the yields on
10-year U.S. Treasury notes, declined from 2.9 percent in December 2013 to
2.2 percent in December 2014, as shown in Figure 2-5. The decline in inter‑
est rates came despite rapid improvement in the U.S. labor market and an
end to the expansion of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. The decline was
likely driven in large part by the evolving expectation during 2014 for a later
increase in the Federal funds rate that occurred, as depicted in Figure 2-4,
along with continued low readings on inflation.

3 Then-Chairman Bernanke has stated that “we do believe the primary effect of our purchases
is through the stock that we hold, because that stock has been withdrawn from markets,
and the prices of those assets have to adjust to balance supply and demand.” Chairman Ben
S. Bernanke, Press Conference, June 19, 2013, available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/
mediacenter/files/FOMCpresconf20130619.pdf.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  49

Figure 2-4
Market-Implied Date of Initial Federal Funds Rate Increase, 2014

Date of Expectation
Jan-16

Nov-15
Sep-15

Sep-15 Liftoff
Expected in
Dec-14

Jul-15
May-15
Mar-15
Jan-15

Jan

Feb Mar

Apr

May Jun Jul Aug
Date of Observation

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Note: The market-implied expectation is the date for which futures contracts imply a 0.25 percent increase
in the Federal funds effective rate.
Source: Bloomberg Professional Service; CEA calculations.

Percent
3.5

Figure 2-5
Nominal Long- and Short-Term Interest Rates, 2014

3.0
Dec-2014

2.5
10-Year
Treasury Yield

2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0

3-Month
Treasury Yield
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Note: Displayed yields are constant-maturity interest rates calculated from the U.S. Treasury yield curve.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, H.15 Release.

50  |  Chapter 2

Downward revisions to global growth projections have also been
important contributors to the decline in interest rates. The move in U.S.
interest rates coincided with decreasing long-term interest rates across the
developed world, including in the United Kingdom, Japan, and the euro
area. The general decline in interest rates among advanced economies likely
reflects in part the environment of slowing global growth and weaken‑
ing inflation: the one- and five-year ahead growth rates projected by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) for these countries were revised down
during 2014, and again in January 2015.
Other interest rates also declined in 2014, as shown in Table 2-1. The
average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has fallen 60 basis points over
the 12 months of the year to 3.86 percent. Before the last several weeks of
2014, the average mortgage rate had not fallen below 4 percent since mid2013. Similarly, corporate borrowing costs declined over the course of the
year. Credit spreads—differences between corporate interest rates and U.S.
Treasury yields that reflect the risk of default by corporate borrowers—were
unchanged on balance during 2014. Short-term interest rates (such as the
Federal funds rate, and the 91-day Treasury bill rate) were largely stable
over the course of the year, as markets consistently expected the first Federal
funds rate increase to occur more than three months into the future.
Reflecting the ongoing economic recovery, the stock market saw
continued positive performance in 2014. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index
rose 11.4 percent for the year. That performance follows increases of 13 per‑
cent in 2012 and 30 percent in 2013 (the best year since 1997). In December,
the Standard and Poor’s index was 32 percent above its pre-financial-crisis
monthly peak in 2007.

International Developments
Faced with weak global economic performance over 2014, the IMF
reduced its forecast for year-over-year 2015 global real GDP growth from
4.0 percent in October 2013 to 3.5 percent in January 2015. Most economies
experienced low rates of inflation in 2014 and low interest rates. The pace of
recovery was uneven across countries, with country-specific factors playing
an important role. In its World Economic Outlook assessments, the IMF
pointed to the legacies of the crisis, including high levels of public and pri‑
vate debt and subdued investment, as impediments to growth.
Euro zone. There is considerable divergence in the pace of the recov‑
ery across Europe. The euro zone suffered a debilitating crisis from late 2009
to 2012, fast on the heels of the 2007 to 2009 global financial crisis. Germany,
Sweden, and most countries in central and eastern Europe have recovered to
their pre-crisis levels of real GDP relative to working-age population, while
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  51

Table 2-1

Selected Interest Rates, 2014
(Percent)

Dec-13

Dec-14

Difference

3-Month U.S. Treasury Yield

0.07

0.03

-0.04

2-Year U.S. Treasury Yield

0.34

0.64

0.30

5-Year U.S. Treasury Yield

1.58

1.64

0.06

10-Year U.S. Treasury

2.90

2.21

-0.69

10-Year BBB Corporate Bonds

4.83

4.18

-0.65

Federal Funds Effective

0.09

0.12

0.03

30-Year U.S. Treasury

3.89

2.83

-1.06

30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate

4.46

3.86

-0.60

Note: All interest rates are averages of daily or weekly data throughout the given month.
Treasury yields are constant-maturity yields estimated by the Federal Reserve Board.
Corporate bond yields are option-adjusted yields estimated by Standard & Poor's Global
Fixed Income Research. The mortgage rate is that reported in the Freddie Mac Primary
Mortgage Survey.
Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Standard & Poor's; Freddie Mac;
CEA calculations.

in the rest of the continent, notably the aggregate of the peripheral euro area
economies (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain), real GDP remains
9 percent below the pre-recession peak. (For a detailed discussion of the
dispersion in real GDP trajectories across countries, see Box 2-2 below.) For
the euro area as a whole, real GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014 (the
latest available as this Report goes to press) was weak. The growth rate of real
GDP per working age population from the third quarter of 2013 to the third
quarter of 2014 was a meager 0.8 percent for the euro area, 1.2 percent in
Germany, 0.4 percent in France, while Italy dipped back into recession with
a decline of 0.5 percent. The unemployment rate edged down during 2014
across the euro area, but inflation fell sharply as well, with Greece and Spain
experiencing outright deflation (Figure 2-6).
At the height of the euro crisis in July 2012, European Central Bank
(ECB) President Mario Draghi pledged “to do whatever it takes to preserve
the euro.”4 A month later, in August 2012, the ECB announced it was pre‑
pared to use large-scale “outright monetary transactions” (OMT), if neces‑
sary, to offset the effects on sovereign yields of speculation that some mem‑
ber states might exit the euro. OMT would involve possibly massive ECB
purchases of the sovereign debts of countries whose yields spiked upward
because of fears they might abandon the euro in favor of a new national
4 Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, Global Investment Conference, July
26, 2012, available at http://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2012/html/sp120726.en.html.

52  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-6

Falling Euro Area Inflation, 2011–2014

Percent, Year-over-Year
4

3

2

Europe Outside
Euro Area

Germany

Dec-2014
1

Euro Area Minus
Germany and
Peripherals

0

Peripherals
-1

2011

2012

2013

2014

Note: Peripherals include Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Source: Eurostat, Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices, Gross Domestic Product; CEA calculations.

Figure 2-7
Euro Area Sovereign Interest Rate Spreads over Germany, 2007–2015

Percentage Points
35

Draghi:
"Whatever
it takes"
(July 2012)

30
25
20

Greece

15

Jan-15

10

Spain

5
0

Italy
2007

2008

2009

2010

Source: Bloomberg Professional Service.

2011

2012

France
2013

Portugal
2014

2015

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  53

Box 2-2: International Comparison of Growth Performance
Nearly every advanced economy endured a recession amid the
global financial crisis, but the experience since then has varied widely
across economies. Figure 2-ii shows real GDP divided by workingage population since 2008 for most advanced economies. All of the
economies represented in the Figure experienced a deep and almost
synchronous decline ranging from 4 to 10 percent measured from peak
to trough. Since then, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany,
and Japan have surpassed the levels of real GDP per working-age popula‑
tion they achieved before the crisis, while most of the euro area has not.
The figures in parentheses show the recent annualized rate of growth
in real GDP per working-age population as measured over the eightquarter interval through the third quarter of 2014. The United States
and the United Kingdom have experienced recent growth of 2.1 and
1.9 percent a year respectively, and have both exceeded their pre-crisis
peaks. Germany has also surpassed its pre-crisis peak, but, in contrast to
the United States and the United Kingdom, real GDP per working-age
Figure 2-ii
Real Gross Domestic Product per Working-Age
Population, 2008–2014

Index, 2008:Q1=100

108

1.8 percent

2014:Q3
Japan

106

United
States

2.1 percent

104

Germany

0.8 percent

102

United
Kingdom

100

1.1 percent

98
1.9 percent

96
94

Euro Area
Excluding
Germany and
Peripherals

Peripherals

1.5 percent

92

90

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Peripherals include Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Numbers in
parentheses are the annualized eight-quarter percent changes in real GDP per working-age
population ended in 2014:Q3. Working age population is 16-64 for the U.S. and 15-64 for
all others.
Source: Eurostat; CEA calculations.

54  |  Chapter 2

population has been almost flat since 2011, with annualized growth of
0.8 percent over the last eight quarters. Japan’s annual growth rate was
1.8 percent, but this was driven largely by the decline in its working-age
population. (Real GDP over the same interval has grown at only a 0.6
percent annualized rate.) The high-debt peripheral euro economies
(Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain), which were battered by the
euro financial crisis between late 2009 and 2012, experienced a doubledip recession and as a group remain 9 percent below their 2008 GDPper-worker level, though growth has picked up in the last year. The weak
recovery is not confined to the high-debt peripheral economies. The
rest of the euro area, excluding Germany and the high-debt peripheral
countries, is close to attaining its pre-crisis peak with recent annualized
growth of 0.9 percent in real GDP per worker.
The diverging paths within advanced economies can partly be
attributed to different conditions prior to the crisis: differences in
outstanding household debt, differences in public debt, the health of the
financial sector, and whether the country is part of a crisis-afflicted mon‑
etary union. But much of the post-crisis difference must also be placed
at the feet of government policy, which has failed to stimulate aggregate
demand. A country’s ability to tackle demand shortfalls through higher
public spending or tax cuts may be limited if fiscal space is insufficient—
either because government debt is already high or because markets doubt
the government’s ability to manage its budget sustainably over the longer
term. Thus, governments must accumulate fiscal space through prudent

Percent
10

Figure 2-iii
Five-Year-Ahead Growth Forecasts in Selected Economies

Emerging Markets

9

9.5

Forecast in April 2010
Forecast in October 2014

8
7

8.1
6.7

6

5.0

5
3

2
1

2.4

2.6
1.7

2.5 2.4
1.0

1.2 1.3

2.2

1.8

4.5

4.1

Advanced Economies

4

3.1
1.5 1.7

6.3

2.7
2.0

0

Note: *Partial Euro Area excludes Germany and Peripheral countries. Peripheral countries are Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook April 2010 and October 2014; CEA
Calculations.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  55

budgets during periods of stronger growth, as many emerging economies
did during the 2000s.
At the same time, supply shortfalls have also played an important
role in the slower pace of global growth. The IMF has marked down
its medium-term growth projections for many of the world’s major
economies, as shown in the Figure 2-iii. The figure compares the fiveyear-ahead growth forecasts made in the April 2010 World Economic
Outlook to the five-year-ahead growth forecasts made in the October
2014 World Economic Outlook, a rough proxy for revisions to the
expectation of the growth of aggregate supply. While Japan and the euro
area excluding Germany and peripherals have seen downward revisions
to medium-term growth expectations, the striking aspect of this figure
is the sharp downward revisions to prospects for the BRIC economies,
which saw growth outlooks marked down by 1 to 3 percentage points. In
fact, in the October 2014 World Economic Outlook, the IMF noted the
BRIC economies have been responsible for one-half of the IMF’s total
growth forecast errors from 2011 to 2014 despite representing just over
one-quarter of global GDP. The emerging market slowdown may be just
a temporary response to the economic crisis and weak global demand.
Another possibility is that it could represent the end of an unusual
period in global economic history when the integration of China and
India into the global economy led to a rapid period of catching up with
the technological frontier. As these nations edge closer to the frontier,
opportunities for growth are diminishing.

currency. President Draghi’s announcement marked the start of a period of
declining peripheral sovereign interest-rate spreads over the German bund.
As a result, some commentators view the euro crisis as being in remission
if not over (Ireland and Portugal have formally exited from their “troika”
assistance programs administered by the IMF, EU, and ECB). The excep‑
tion is Greece, which has so far been unable to meet its commitment to
deficit reduction under the troika program despite government efforts to
bring its budget under control. Spreads rose sharply in January 2015 as the
anti-austerity party Syriza came to power, vowing to renegotiate the terms
of Greece’s sovereign debts (see Figure 2-7). Syriza and its coalition partner,
the Independent Greeks, campaigned on platforms aggressively opposed to
the deficit-reduction policies to which Greece must adhere under the terms
of the troika assistance program.
Despite the generally low and falling spreads on sovereign debt, defla‑
tion in the peripheral countries has meant that real interest rates (nominal
rates less inflation) are highest where unemployment is highest. Figure 2-8
56  |  Chapter 2

shows the relationship between real interest rates and unemployment. The
figure suggests that high real interest rates are suppressing recovery in pre‑
cisely those countries with the greatest economic slack.
One reason that the United States has recovered more quickly than
other advanced economies is its combination of accommodative monetary
policy, quick action to recapitalize the financial sector, and aggressive
demand management through countercyclical fiscal policy. The American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was the largest countercyclical fiscal
effort in U.S. history, and together with a dozen other fiscal-jobs measures
and automatic stabilizers, fiscal support to the U.S. economy totaled 5.5 per‑
cent of GDP in 2010. But some euro area countries are constrained by fiscal
rules from pursuing stronger countercyclical measures, while those that are
unconstrained are largely unwilling to do so, or to allow much flexibility
to the others. Because structural reform tends to work slowly, monetary
policy must bear the immediate burden of resisting deflation and supporting
demand. In contrast to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, which increased
through October 2014 but is being maintained at roughly a constant level
for now, the ECB’s balance sheet (as measured by the asset side) was allowed
to contract between mid-2012 and mid-2014 from roughly €3 to €2 trillion,
as euro area banks repaid ECB long-term loans taken out during the crisis.
With the ECB’s main refinancing interest rate effectively at the zero lower
bound and its deposit rate negative since June 2014, President Draghi stated
near the end of 2014 that the ECB “will do what we must to raise inflation
and inflation expectations as fast as possible….”5 In January 2015, Draghi
announced an open-ended program of large-scale debt purchases, including
sovereign debt, designed to increase the ECB’s balance sheet more than €1
trillion by September 2016.
Other advanced economies. Japan continues to face longstanding
economic challenges. The “three arrows” of Abenomics (fiscal stimulus,
monetary easing, and structural reforms) that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
launched in December 2012 were greeted with optimism that they would
end deflationary expectations and generate sustained growth. After two
decades of anemic growth in Japan, the apparent initial success of the Abe
agenda—initially driven mainly by aggressive monetary policy and yen
depreciation—was a welcome development. Real GDP grew at a rate of
about 1.6 percent (year over year) in both 2012 and 2013, and expected infla‑
tion rose. In April 2014, however, the government permanently increased
the national consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent as a step toward
5 Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt European Banking
Conference, November 21, 2014, available at http://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2014/
html/sp141121.en.html.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  57

Figure 2-8
Euro Area Unemployment and Real Interest Rates, December 2014

Real Interest Rate, Percent
10

GRE

8

CYP

6

4
MLT LUX

2

GER

0

-2

NED

AUT

0

5

SLV
BEL

LAT IRL

FIN

SLK

POR

SPA

ITA

FRA

10
15
20
Unemployment Rate, Percent

25

30

Note: The real interest rate is equal to the nominal monthly average interest rate minus the 12-month inflation
rate. Greek data are from October, and Slovakian data are from November.
Source: Eurostat, Harmonized Unemployment Rate; European Central Bank, Harmonized Long Term Interest
Rates; National Sources.

reducing the large public debt (roughly 250 percent of GDP). This policy,
a fiscal contraction equal to about 1.5 percent of GDP, was partly offset by
temporary expansionary fiscal measures. Nonetheless, recent economic data
from Japan raise troubling questions about the net effects of the consump‑
tion tax increase on growth. Real GDP surged 5.8 percent at an annual rate
in the first quarter of 2014 as consumers raced to complete purchases before
the tax hike, but then plunged 6.7 percent at an annual rate in the second
quarter after it took effect, and another 1.9 percent in the third quarter,
leaving real GDP below its level at the end of 2013. At the same time, infla‑
tion (excluding the effects of the consumption tax) remains far below the
Bank of Japan’s target of 2 percent a year. In response, the Bank of Japan
expanded its program of quantitative and qualitative easing at the end of
October. Slowing growth reflects weakness in consumer spending and busi‑
ness investment, which has led forecasters to revise down growth expecta‑
tions for future quarters. Faced with these developments, Abe postponed
by 18 months a second stage of the consumption tax increase (from 8 to 10
percent) planned for October 2015 and called a snap election that reaffirmed
his parliamentary majority and extended by two years the horizon available
for carrying out his policies.
As of the fourth quarter of 2014, real GDP in the United Kingdom
was 3.4 percent above its pre-crisis peak, and unemployment stands at 5.8
percent for the September-to-November 2014 period. (See Box 3-2 for more
details on the UK labor market and a comparison with the United States.)
58  |  Chapter 2

Consumer price inflation was 0.5 percent over the 12 months of 2014,
and the rate on the 10-year bond was 1.9 in December. Given the rapidly
improving labor market, the Bank of England is anticipated to raise interest
rates sometime in 2015 or 2016. On the downside, however, the strong eco‑
nomic linkages between the United Kingdom and continental Europe mean
that troubles in the euro zone may dampen growth.
Emerging markets. China’s economy grew 7.3 percent during the
four quarters ended in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from an annualized
rate of 9.2 percent in the eight quarters ended in the fourth quarter of 2011
(Figure 2-9). Both the IMF and the World Bank have downgraded their pro‑
jections for Chinese growth in 2015 to a rate below 7.5 percent, which until
recently was thought to be the Chinese authorities’ target rate.
China may face stresses in adapting to a slower rate of expansion. In
May, President Xi Jinping reportedly suggested that the Chinese “… must
boost our confidence, adapt to the new normal condition based on the char‑
acteristics of China’s economic growth in the current phase and stay coolminded.” One concern is the growth in credit to nonfinancial corporations
and households, much of which has been channeled through the so-called
shadow banking sector (which undertakes risky bank-like functions, but
outside the government-regulated part of the financial sector). As shown in
Figure 2-10, credit growth in China since 2008 has increased faster than in
many developed countries. An initial surge in 2009 was seen as an aggres‑
sive response to the global financial crisis, in line with expansionary policies
around the world. The renewed boom in credit since 2012, however, has
raised worries about the rapid expansion of the unregulated shadow banking
sector and a bubble in real estate prices. The government has responded with
a number of policy measures to limit lending activities outside of the tradi‑
tional banking sector. Property price gains have moderated, however, and
prices began to fall in 2014, even in larger, wealthier cities where in the past
demand has typically outstripped supply. There is growing concern about
overbuilding because contraction in the construction sector would further
depress aggregate growth and could cause financial instability.
A further economic slowdown in China would have ramifications for
the global economy and, in particular, for low- and middle-income coun‑
tries. Trade between China and other emerging BRICS economies (Brazil,
Russia, India, and South Africa) has expanded since 2000. China is now the
top export destination for 15 African countries, 13 Asian economies, and
3 Latin American countries. If demand in China slows, exports to China
would decline, broadly dampening emerging-economy growth. Since mid2011, the other BRICS countries have suffered declining terms of trade (the
relative price of a country’s exports compared with its imports). This decline
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  59

Figure 2-9
China: Real GDP Growth, 1993–2014

Percent
24
21
18

15

Annualized

Four-Quarter
Growth

12

2014:Q4

9
6
3
0
1993

1996

1999

2002

2005

Source: China National Bureau of Statistics, National Accounts.

2008

2011

2014

Figure 2-10
Credit to Nonfinancial Corporations and Households, 2004–2014

Percent of GDP
210

2014:Q2

190
170

United States
Euro Area

150

China

130

110
90
2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Source: Bank for International Settlements; People's Bank of China; Federal Reserve Board; National
Sources.

60  |  Chapter 2

is accounted for in large part by falling prices of commodities and raw mate‑
rials, to which China’s slowdown is a major contributor. The price of oil has
recently fallen much more sharply than prices of other commodities because
the effects of low world demand for oil have been reinforced by exceptionally
ample global supply. Emerging energy exporters, including Russia, Nigeria,
and Venezuela and countries in the Middle East, have suffered most, while
this development has been positive for energy importers including China
and the big industrial economies (see Box 2-3).
An additional challenge facing emerging economies is the potential
for capital flow reversals as the Federal Reserve moves toward positive inter‑
est rates and the demand for higher-yield assets in emerging economies
subsides. That said, the stronger U.S. economy that motivates monetary
policy normalization will benefit emerging market exporters. Vulnerabilities
may have declined over the course of 2014 as foreign borrowing by several
important emerging economies has fallen. Many analysts remain concerned,
however, by the reportedly large stock of offshore dollar liabilities incurred
by emerging-economy corporations.
Exchange rates, exports, and imports. Since the global financial crisis,
the U.S. dollar has generally fluctuated in a lower range against foreign cur‑
rencies relative to the early 2000s, but it took a particularly sharp upturn
from September 2014 – a 7.2 percent appreciation against a broad index of
trade partners through January 2015 (see Figure 2-11). Among the drivers
of the recent appreciation is the strong performance of the U.S economy
against a backdrop of relatively weak growth in the rest of the world, along
with the implications of this growth pattern for countries’ monetary policies.
Federal Reserve policy is at a very different juncture than monetary policy
in most foreign countries, though the United Kingdom is similarly situated.
While indicators in the United States and the United Kingdom suggest that
markets expect monetary tightening steps sometime in the 2015 to 2016
timeframe, the ECB and Bank of Japan remain fully engaged in battling
below-target inflation and slow growth, with no near-term prospect of
policy reversal.
Both the recent strength of the dollar and slowing demand in much of
the world outside the United States will work to weaken U.S. export growth
in the near term. The U.S. nominal trade deficit in goods and services edged
up from 3.0 to 3.1 percent of GDP in 2014, as measured in the national
income and product accounts. Against this downward pressure on exports,
it will become especially important to open new markets to which the
United States can sell goods and services. This is an important driver of the
President’s trade agenda, which is described more fully in Chapter 7.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  61

Box 2-3: Imported Petroleum Prices and the Economy
Oil prices fell 43 percent during the 12 months of 2014 (as mea‑
sured by the European, Brent, price of crude oil), the combined effect
of a surge in U.S. crude oil production, a decrease in global oil demand,
and OPEC’s recent decision to maintain production levels despite the
drop in prices (see Chapter 6 of this Report). Low oil prices benefit major
segments of the U.S. economy. Lower fuel costs increase real household
income and stimulate consumption both directly—mostly through lower
prices of gasoline, which fell more than $1.00 per gallon in the last six
months of 2014— and indirectly by reducing the production costs for
oil-consuming businesses, which ultimately translates to lower prices for
consumer goods and services. The drop in oil prices also hurts American
oil producers, but because the United States is a net importer of crude
oil, the overall benefit of falling oil prices to the United States exceeds the
costs to domestic oil producers.
The net benefit to the economy is roughly proportional to the
share of net oil imports in nominal GDP. In 2014, the United States, on
net, imported about 1.9 billion barrels of petroleum and products, down
more than 50 percent since 2008. Each $10 per barrel drop in the price
of oil saves U.S. consumers and producers about $19 billion a year, or
about 0.11 percent of GDP. As a result, the roughly $40 per barrel decline
(roughly 40%) in the price of oil during the last four months of 2014 will
save the U.S. economy about $70 billion a year, or 0.4 percent of GDP.
Figure 2-iv
Petroleum Trade Surplus(+)/Deficit(-) in G20 Economies

Saudi Arabia
Russia
Canada
Mexico
Argentina
Australia
United Kingdom
Brazil
France
United States
Italy
Indonesia
Germany
China
Japan
South Africa
India
Turkey
Korea

-0.6
-0.6
-1.2
-1.3
-1.7
-1.8
-2.2
-2.6
-2.6
-2.6
-3.9
-4.3
-5.2
-6.5
-8.6

3.2
0.7

12.6

-20
-10
0
10
20
30
40
Percent of GDP (estimates for CY 2013 issued in April 2013)
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, April 2013.

62  |  Chapter 2

43.9

50

Measured in dollars, the net import share of petroleum and petroleum
products was 1.8 percent of nominal GDP in 2012, but fell to 1.1 percent
during 2014. The situation is reversed for countries that are net crude
oil exporters. Calculations by the IMF based on 2012 data suggest that
Canada, for example, had a petroleum surplus equal to 3.2 percent of
GDP, in contrast to the 2012 U.S. petroleum deficit of 1.8 percent of
GDP. And so the same 40-percent oil-price decline reduces Canada’s
real income by 1.3 percent. Figure 2-iv shows the estimates by the IMF
based on 2012 data of the petroleum trade balance as a percent of GDP
for G-20 countries.
The back-of-the-envelope estimates described above, however,
are far too simplistic to capture potential impacts for a large number of
national economies, where policy and structural idiosyncrasies deliver
different economic implications. In particular, countries like Iran,
Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iraq will face challenges as low oil prices
place their governments under extreme financial pressure. Analysts
have made similarly rough estimates of the net effect of the oil price
declines on global GDP. Largely because the world petroleum supply
has increased, the IMF estimates that global real GDP could be around
0.5 percent higher in 2015 if the price decline persists for the entire year.
Aside from its positive implications for U.S. and global incomes,
the decline in oil prices has also created fear of financial instability
among energy companies. As oil prices have plunged, yields on oil

Basis Points
1,200

Figure 2-v
High-Yield Option Adjusted Spreads, 2012–2014
Dec-2014

1,000
Energy Sector

800
600
400

All Sectors

200
0
2012

2013

Note: Spreads weighted by market value.
Source: Bloomberg Professional Service.

2014

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  63

company debt have skyrocketed in response to investor fears that com‑
panies will have a harder time paying creditors. In particular, Figure 2-v
shows that, in just six months, the option-adjusted spread for high-yield
energy debt (a measure of how risky a financial instrument is, relative
to Treasury debt) has more than doubled from an average of under 400
basis points in June 2014, to over 920 basis points in December 2014.
(The option adjustment corrects the spread for the value of rights to
repay bonds before maturity.) By contrast, the option-adjusted spread
for all sectors combined (including energy) has increased by less than
one-half that amount over the same time period. As of December 2014,
energy companies constitute almost 15 percent of the high-yield bond
market, and there is growing concern that sustained, low prices will put
investments in future oil projects at risk.

The net goods deficit was unchanged at 4.4 percent of GDP in 2014,
while the services surplus edged down by 0.1 percentage point of GDP to
1.3 percent (see Figures 2-12 and 2-13, which show these concepts on the
closely related balance of payments basis). Our services exports have consis‑
tently grown relative to merchandise exports since at least the beginning of
the 1990s and the start of the digital revolution. If current trends continue,
Figure 2-11
Select Dollar Exchange Rates, 2000–2015

Index, Jan-2004=100
160

140

Euro/USD Index
Jan-2015

120

100

80

Broad
Trade/USD
Index
Yen/USD Index

60
2000

2005

2010

Note: The broad Trade Index is a weighted average of foreign exchange values of the U.S. dollar
against major U.S. trading partners.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Foreign Exchange Rates.

64  |  Chapter 2

2015

Billions of Dollars
250

Figure 2-12
Trade in Goods, 2000–2014
Dec-2014

Imports

200
150
100

Exports

50

0
-50
-100
2000

Balance
2002

2004

2006

Source: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division.

Billions of Dollars
70

2008

2010

2012

2014

Figure 2-13
Trade in Services, 2000–2014

Dec-2014

60

Exports

50
Imports

40
30

20
10
0
2000

Balance
2002

2004

2006

Source: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division.

2008

2010

2012

2014

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  65

Figure 2-14a
Figure X-X
Services and Goods Composition: Imports, 2013
Services and Goods Import and Export Composition
Other Imports
(3 Percent)
Services
(17 Percent)

Consumer
Goods
(19 Percent)
Automotive
Vehicles,
Engines and
Parts
(11 Percent)

Capital Goods
(20 Percent)

Foods, Feeds,
Beverages
(4 Percent)

Industrial
Supplies and
Materials
(25 Percent)

Source: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division; Bureau of Economic Analysis, Balance
of Payments Division.

Figure 2-14b
Figure X-X
Services andand Goods Export Composition
Services Goods Composition: Exports, 2013

Consumer Other Exports
Goods
(2 Percent)
Automotive
(8 Percent)
Vehicles,
Engines and
Parts
(7 Percent)

Services
(30 Percent)

Capital Goods
(23 Percent)

Industrial
Supplies and
Materials
(23 Percent)

Foods, Feeds,
Beverages
(6 Percent)

Source: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division;Bureau of Economic Analysis, Balance
of Payments Diviision.

66  |  Chapter 2

services exports should remain an increasingly important component of
overall U.S. export success.
In 2013, services accounted for over 30 percent of all U.S. exports,
while services amounted to just 17 percent of all U.S. imports. On the import
side, 19 percent of U.S. imports are consumer goods (see Figure 2-14).
Overall trade in industrial supplies, which includes petroleum, accounts for
between 23 and 26 percent of imports and exports, though the composition
of exports and imports differs. Buying from our trading partners the goods
and services at which they are relatively more efficient lowers prices and
increases choice for U.S. consumers and businesses (see Chapter 7).
One ongoing trade trend that accelerated in late 2014 is the continu‑
ing decline in U.S. energy imports (see Chapter 6 for a detailed discussion).
A major part of the decline is due to an expansion in U.S. production of
unconventional oil and natural gas, while another element is growing U.S.
energy efficiency and reliance on renewable energy sources. In addition, the
world price of oil fell precipitously in the fourth quarter of 2014. Between
2011 and 2014, petroleum’s share of the U.S. trade deficit in goods fell from
45 percent to 26 percent, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Developments in 2014 and the Near-Term Outlook
Consumer Spending
Real consumer spending grew 2.8 percent during the four quarters
of 2014, the same as the year-earlier rate. This growth was accompanied by
upward trends in consumer sentiment, encouraging reductions in house‑
hold debt, and gains in household wealth over the course of 2013 and 2014.
Growth was strong for real household purchases of durable goods (8.4
percent), especially motor vehicles. Growth was moderate for nondurables
(2.3 percent) and services (2.1 percent). Within nondurables, consumer
spending on gasoline and other energy goods rose 2.9 percent during 2014,
after falling at a 1.5-percent annual rate during the preceding seven years, a
generally negative trend driven by increasingly fuel-efficient motor vehicles.
Sharply lower nominal oil prices during the fourth quarter of 2014, which
drove the price of gasoline to levels last seen in 2010, probably encouraged
growth in real consumer energy spending.
Light motor vehicle sales rose to 16.4 million units in 2014, the fifth
consecutive yearly increase, and the highest-selling pace since 2006. Sales of
light motor vehicles averaged 16.4 million units during the decade through
2007. Sales trended up during the four quarters of the year, consistent with
the emerging strength in labor markets and real incomes. Motor vehicle
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  67

assemblies also increased from the first to the second half of the year and,
at year end, inventory-to-sales ratios were near their long-term averages.
Between 2007 and 2013, the average age of the fleet of private light motor
vehicles has risen from 10.0 to 11.4 years, which may partly reflect an
increase in quality but also suggests that households may have postponed
new vehicle purchases during the period of elevated unemployment. If so,
replacement demand is likely to support new vehicle sales during the next
couple of years.
Consumer sentiment resumed its upward trend in 2014 after inter‑
ruptions by the debt-limit crisis in the summer of 2011, the fiscal cliff in
the winter of 2012, and the government shutdown in October 2013. By year
end, the Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment
had reached its highest level since 2007, and was in the top 30 percent of its
historical range. Survey administrators cited rising wage and employment
expectations as the principal contributors to improving sentiment, along
with declining gasoline prices. The Conference Board index in the second
half of 2014 was also at its highest level since 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. households continued to pay down their debts. Figure
2-15 shows the dramatic rise in the household sector’s liabilities-to-income
and debt-service ratios in the run-up to the financial crisis, along with the
reduction in these ratios (known as deleveraging) that followed. By 2013,
the liabilities-to-income ratio was at its lowest level since 2002. Household
debt service (the share of income allocated to making required payments
on that debt) has fallen even more dramatically: not only has outstanding
debt principal fallen relative to income, but interest rates are at historically
low levels. By the second quarter of 2014, required payments on mortgage
and consumer debt had fallen to 9.9 percent of disposable income, nearly
the lowest level on record. During the deleveraging process, heightened
foreclosure activity and lower borrowing for home purchases led to a large
reduction in debt. In the eight quarters through the third quarter of 2014,
this adjustment process appears to have tapered off, and debt has been stable
relative to disposable income at levels that are near historic lows. At these
lows, real consumer spending has a firmer foundation for growth than it did
earlier in this expansion. However, these estimates are based on aggregate
data, largely from the Financial Accounts of the United States (FAUS), that
could mask higher debt-service burdens for some families; that is, the health
of personal finances varies substantially across households.
In addition to the uptrend in sentiment and the progress in deleverag‑
ing, gains in real consumer spending have also been supported by gains in
net worth (that is, household assets less liabilities, see Figure 2-16). Although
the wealth-to-income ratio was little changed during 2014, it had increased
68  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-15
Household Deleveraging, 1990–2014

Percent of Disposable Income
14

Years of Disposable Income
1.4
1.3
1.2

13

Debt Service Share of Income
(right axis)

2014:Q3

12

1.1

11

1.0

10

0.9

9

0.8
0.7
0.6
1990

Liabilities-to-Income Ratio
(left axis)

1994

8
7

1998

2002

2006

Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Financial Accounts of the United States.

2010

2014

6

Figure 2-16
Consumption and Wealth Relative to Disposable
Personal Income (DPI), 1950–2014

Years of Disposable Income
7
2014:Q4

Consumption/DPI Ratio
1.10
1.05

1.00
0.95

0.90

5
4

Consumption-to-DPI Ratio
(left axis)
Net Housing
Wealth-to-DPI Ratio
(right axis)

0.85

0.80
0.75
1950

6

Total-Wealth-to-DPI Ratio
(right axis)

1960

1970

1980

1990

Stock Market
Wealth-to-DPI Ratio
(right axis)

3
2

1
2000

2010

0

Note: Values imputed for 2014:Q4 by CEA. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts; Federal Reserve
Board, Financial Accounts of the United States; CEA calculations.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  69

Box 2-4: U.S. Household Wealth in the Wake of the
Crisis and Implications for Wealth Inequality
Supported by rising home values and stock-market gains, real
household net worth—the difference between the value of a household’s
assets and debts, adjusted for inflation—increased further in 2014 to
about $700,000 per household according to the FAUS, just under its prerecession peak. Because wealth is unevenly distributed and concentrated
among a relatively small number of households, and because the FAUS
includes holdings of nonprofit institutions in its definition of wealth, the
recovery in mean household net worth does not necessarily reflect the
experiences of most families.
The Federal Reserve Board’s latest triennial Survey of Consumer
Finances (SCF), conducted during 2013, does measure the evolution of
wealth for households at different income levels. Broadly speaking, the
SCF shows that the recovery in net worth has been uneven for house‑
holds across the income distribution, as the top 10 percent of income
earners have regained much more of their wealth through 2013, on
average, than the bottom 90 percent of earners. Figure 2-vi shows how
the wealth of different income groups changed between the 2007 and
2013 surveys. This differential recovery owes partially to disparities in
the holdings of assets across the income distribution. The value of stock
market wealth generally increases more than housing wealth as one

Percent
0

Figure 2-vi
Percent Change in Wealth by Household Income, 2007–2013

-5
-7.0

-10

-11.2

-15
-20

-20.8

-25
-30

-27.2

Less than 20

-25.6

20–40

-28.7

40–60

60–80

Percentile of Household Income

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finances, 2013.

70  |  Chapter 2

80–90

90–100

moves up the income distribution. For example, according to the SCF,
the top 10 percent of income earners held nearly four times as much
housing wealth as did the middle 20 percent in 2013 but almost 12 times
as much stock-market wealth. The appreciation of equities during 2014,
discussed earlier in this chapter, is likely to have benefited higher-income
households disproportionately.
Such an uneven recovery implies that wealth inequality has con‑
tinued to increase in recent years. Moreover, even among the highest 10
percent of earners, mean and median wealth diverged between 2007 and
2013, suggesting that wealth has become even more concentrated within
a smaller share of households. Because the SCF excludes the wealthiest
400 households in the United States—and because the distribution
of wealth becomes increasingly concentrated near the very top—the
increasing concentration seen in the SCF likely understates the actual
increase. However, the rise in inequality has been mitigated by the
President’s policies, including the Affordable Care Act and the restora‑
tion of a more progressive individual income tax code. The President’s
FY 2016 Budget proposes further policies to ensure the benefits of
growth are more widely shared, including investments in early childhood
and college education, new tax credits for low-income workers, and
curbs to tax expenditures for high-income earners.
Figure 2-vii
Mean Household Net Worth, 1989–2014

Thousands of 2014 Dollars
800

2014:Q3

700

Reported FAUS
Net Worth

600

2013
2014:Q2

500
SCF-Adjusted
FAUS Net Worth

400
FAUS-Adjusted
SCF Net Worth

300
200
1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Notes: Deflated by the NIPA price index for consumption. The FAUS figures for net worth are
adjusted towards SCF concepts.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finances (private data), Financial Accounts of
the United States; CEA calculations.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  71

But the rise in wealth inequality is not a recent phenomenon;
research shows that it is decades in the making. In a study spanning
100 years of U.S. tax records, Saez and Zucman (2014) find that wealth
inequality has been increasing in recent decades, especially at the very
top of the distribution. According to the Saez-Zucman data, the wealthi‑
est 0.1 percent of households saw their share of U.S. wealth grow from
7 percent in 1979 to 22 percent in 2012. More broadly, the study finds
that wealth concentration has been increasing since 1978, and is now
approaching levels not seen since the period immediately before the
Great Depression.
Because the most recent SCF survey was conducted over the course
of 2013, it would not have picked up some of the wealth gains during the
second half of 2013 and during 2014, as shown in Figure 2-vii. In addi‑
tion, some of the divergences between the two measures of household
wealth (the SCF and the one in the FAUS) can be accounted for by
conceptual differences between the two surveys, such as: institutional
endowments, assets of defined-benefit pension plans, and pension fund
reserves. As can be seen, average household wealth was similar across the
two surveys in 2007 and 2013, but the FAUS measure of wealth appears
to have fallen further during the recession and risen faster during the
recovery.

sharply during 2013, boosted by sizeable gains in stock-market and hous‑
ing wealth. The year-end 2013 and year-end 2014 levels of wealth relative
to income were up by more than one year of disposable income from the
trough of the recession, reaching 6.25 years, a level surpassed only during
the years 2005 to 2007. Adjusted for inflation and population growth, real
household net worth finally overtook the 2007 level at the end of 2013 and
made further gains during 2014. Changes in net worth have been spread
unevenly across households, however, and these disparities may have impli‑
cations for families and macroeconomic activity (see Box 2-4).

Housing Markets
With abnormally cold weather during the first quarter of 2014, hous‑
ing market activity got off to a slow start but eventually increased above 2013
levels (see Figure 2-17). As the 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate fell 60
basis points during the 12 months of the year to 3.9 percent, housing starts
and permits edged up to 1.0 million units, helping to support a 2.6-percent
increase in residential investment during the four quarters of 2014. New
and existing home sales also got off to a slow start in 2014 but recovered
somewhat as the year unfolded.
72  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-17
Housing Starts, 1960–2014

Millions of Units at an Annual Rate
2.5

Total
2.0

1.5
2014:Q4

1.0

One-Unit
Structures

0.5

0.0
1960

Multifamily Structures

1970

1980

1990

Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Census Bureau, New Residential Construction.

2000

2010

Other housing market indicators suggested continued recovery in
this sector in 2014. The stock of delinquencies and foreclosures as a share of
all mortgages decreased to levels not seen since 2007, particularly in states
where court appearances are unnecessary to begin a foreclosure process,
while the rate of new mortgage delinquencies fell, on balance, to a level last
seen in 2006. Accordingly, fewer households sold homes under distressed
conditions and so the share of sales comprised by non-foreclosure properties
rose. With fewer distressed sales, speculative investor activity receded as did
the share of home purchases financed with cash.
Supported by improving labor markets, rising sales, and lower
mortgage interest rates, house prices increased in 2014. Major house price
indexes, shown in Figure 2-18, increased 5 to 7 percent during the 12
months through November 2014, helping to lift an additional 1.9 million
borrowers out of negative equity (where they owed more than their homes
were worth) in the first three quarters of the year.6 Notably, owing in part
to these house price gains, many more homeowners were able to sell their
properties without realizing a loss and this contributed to a modest increase
in the inventory of existing homes available for sale from the low levels seen
in 2013. Although national house price indexes in November 2014 remained
6As of this writing, data for some of the major house price indexes were not yet available
for December 2014, and data on underwater mortgages were not yet available for the fourth
quarter of 2014.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  73

Figure 2-18
National House Price Indexes, 2000–2014

Index, Jan-2012=100
160
150

140

S&P/Case-Shiller
(Nov-2014)
CoreLogic
(Dec-2014)

130
120

Zillow
(Dec-2014)

FHFA
(Nov-2014)

110
100
90

80
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and CoreLogic indexes
all adjust for the quality of homes sold but only cover homes that are bought or sold, whereas Zillow
reflects prices for all homes on the market. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Zillow; CoreLogic; Federal Housing Finance Agency; Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller.

4 to 13 percent below their pre-recession highs, they are now slightly above
levels implied by their traditional relationship with the cost of renting
(Figure 2-19). As a result, house price increases may moderate in the com‑
ing years, particularly in light of the expected increases in long-term interest
rates discussed later in this chapter.
Residential investment, which increased 6.9 percent during the four
quarters of 2013, stepped down to an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent dur‑
ing 2014. As defined in the national income and product accounts, residen‑
tial investment includes permanent-site new home construction, real estate
commissions, home improvements, and spending on manufactured homes.
Permanent-site new home construction rose during each of the four quar‑
ters of the year, cumulating in an 8.5-percent increase over the four quarters
of the year. In contrast to the gains in permanent-site construction, “other
construction” (the aggregate of real estate commissions, manufactured
homes, and home improvements) fell. Sales of new homes hovered only just
above the lows seen during the Great Recession. Meanwhile, existing home
sales dipped early in the year but recovered to a level that is 46 percent higher
than its monthly trough in 2010.
Looking ahead, residential investment has the potential for strong
gains as a large cohort of “millennials” (that is, 18-to-34-year olds) will
soon participate in the housing market in greater numbers as renters and
eventually as homeowners (Figure 2-20). Typically, homebuilding depends
74  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-19
Home Prices and Owners' Equivalent Rent, 1975–2014

Index, Average of 1988 to 1995=100 (log scale)
250

2014:Q3

House Prices

200
150
100

Owners' Equivalent
Rent

50
25
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Shading denotes recession. House prices are measured by the FHFA's price index (total index
before 1991, purchase-only index after 1991). Owners' equivalent rent is measured by the Personal
Consumption Expenditures price index for imputed rent of owner-occupied nonfarm housing (before
1983) and the Consumer Price Index for owners' equivalent rent of residence (1983-present).
Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency, House Price Index; Bureau of Economic Analysis, National
Income and Product Accounts; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index; CEA calculations.

Figure 2-20
U.S. Population Distribution by Age and Gender, 2013 Census

Age (Years)
85+
80-84
75-79
70-74
65-69
60-64
55-59
50-54
45-49
40-44
35-39
30-34
25-29
20-24
15-19
10-14
5-9
<5

-5

Percent Female

-4

-3

-2

Percent Male

-1
0
1
Percent of Population

2

3

4

5

Source: Census Bureau, Population Division, 2013.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  75

positively on household formation, reductions in vacancies, and demoli‑
tions. With much of the cyclical overhang in vacant housing having abated
during the past several years, the outlook for homebuilding will depend, in
large part, on the recovery in household formation, particularly among mil‑
lennials. Since 2006, rates of household formation among millennials have
been depressed, in part due to high unemployment and the rapid increase in
cost of rental housing. However, improved labor market conditions in 2014
and a slight easing in rental prices provide favorable conditions to push up
household formation and in turn boost residential investment activity.7
Expected further strengthening of the labor market could provide
additional support to release the pent-up demand for housing due to demo‑
graphic factors. According to a November 2014 Gallup survey, 30 percent
of respondents believe that the current labor market provides a good envi‑
ronment for finding a quality job, up 4 percentage points from November
2013 and well above the low of 8 percent seen in 2011.8 The Federal Reserve
Board’s 2014 Survey of Young Workers similarly finds that young adults are
optimistic about future job stability, which also bodes well for household
formation and thus housing demand.9 Consistent with optimism about
their prospects in the labor market, the share of households expecting an
improvement in their finances edged up to 45 percent by December from 38
percent last year.10 A National Association of Home Builders survey showed
that the positive outlook also extended to homebuilders, as their sentiment
on whether it is a good time to build increased in 2014 to its highest level
since 2005 (Figure 2-21).
In the mortgage market, rates on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage
decreased by 60 basis points during the 12 months of 2014, in line with
the decrease in 10-year Treasury yields, and are 63 basis points lower
than their recent high in 2013 (See Figure 2-22). In spite of this decline,
mortgage applications for home purchases were flat, on balance, in 2014,
consistent with slowing home sales and tight mortgage credit availability
(see Figure 2-23). Refinancing activity was well below the highs seen in early
2013 and did not show much response to the drop in rates, in part because
previous refinancing waves already lowered rates for many borrowers. The
Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs)—Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac—and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), continued to sup‑
port an outsized share (over 70 percent) of mortgage originations in 2014,
7 See Council of Economic Advisers, “15 Economic Facts about Millennials,” http://www.
whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf
8 http://www.gallup.com/poll/179483/americans-perceptions-job-market-hold-steady.aspx
9http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2014-survey-young-workers-young-workersoutlook.htm
10http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/corporate-news/2014/6192.html

76  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-21
Home Builder Sentiment Index, 2000–2014

Sentiment Index
80
70

Dec-2014

60
Conditions "Good"
Conditions "Bad"

50
40
30
20
10
0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: The NAHB surveys builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales
expectations for the next six months, and level of traffic of prospective home buyers. NAHB
then uses builders’ responses to calculate a seasonally adjusted index of sentiment.
Source: National Association of Home Builders, Builders Economic Council Survey.

Figure 2-22
30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates, 2000–2014

Percent
9
8
7
6

5

Dec-2014

4
3

2
1
0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

Note: Fixed mortgage rates are contract offer rates.
Source: Freddie Mac, Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

2010

2012

2014

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  77

Figure 2-23
Purchase and Refinance Activity, 2007–2014

Purchase Index, 3/16/90=100
500

Refinance Index, 3/16/90=100
8000

450

7000

MBA
Refinance
Index

400
350

6000

5000

300

4000

250

Dec-2014

200

150

MBA Purchase
Index

100

2000

1000

50
0
2007

3000

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

0

Note: MBA Purchase Index is a seasonally adjusted, four week moving average.
Source: Mortgage Bankers Association, Weekly Applications Survey.

with banks’ portfolios supporting much of the rest. Since 2007, private-label
securitization activity has been negligible, providing funds only to a tiny seg‑
ment of extremely high credit quality borrowers with high-balance, “jumbo”
mortgages.
One important headwind to continued normalization in the housing
sector is low credit availability. Across a broad range of measures, mortgage
underwriting standards remain tight, and the Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan
Officer Opinion Survey showed only modest signs of continued easing dur‑
ing 2014. Accordingly, mortgage purchase originations are low relative to
the volume of home sales activity. The Federal Housing Finance Agency
and the FHA took important steps in 2014 to clarify and mitigate the legal
risks lenders face and the conditions under which housing agencies may
force them to repurchase loans (“putback risk”). The Administration has
also enacted other policies to improve credit access, including a reduction
in FHA mortgage insurance premiums from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent,
which will help homebuyers borrow for less. Nonetheless, it may take some
time before lenders can fully implement the necessary steps to improve
access to credit prudently and before more borrowers, particularly borrow‑
ers with less-than-pristine credit histories, feel that credit conditions have
eased enough to apply for mortgage loans.

78  |  Chapter 2

Investment
Business Fixed Investment. Real business fixed investment grew 5.5
percent during the four quarters of 2014, up from a 4.7-percent increase
during 2013. The rate of investment growth picked up in each of its three
components: structures, equipment, and intellectual property.
Investment spending has grown more slowly than usual for a busi‑
ness-cycle expansion. One reason might be the general surplus of capital
services relative to output that has persisted since the last recession (Figure
2-24). After output fell sharply during that recession and during the slow
recovery, firms found themselves with more capital than they needed. But as
the recovery has progressed, output has grown faster than capital services,
so that firms have only recently had a general reason to increase their use of
capital services. (In Figure 2-24, the blue line has only recently fallen below
the orange line.) This shift argues for faster growth in investment spending
during the next year than in the recent past.
Nonfinancial corporations spent a lower-than-average share of their
internal funds (also known as cash flow) on investment during 2011 to 2013
(see Figure 2-25). Instead, these corporations used a good part of those funds
to buy back shares from their stockholders. Share buybacks are similar to
dividends insofar as they are a way for corporations to return value to share‑
holders. They differ, however, with regard to permanence: whereas dividend
changes tend to persist, share buybacks are one-time events. (When firms
raise investment funds by issuing new equity, the nonfinancial sector aggre‑
gate of share buybacks in the figures can be negative, as was common in the
1950s and 1960s.) The decline in the invested share of internal funds from
2011 to 2013, together with the rise in share buybacks, suggests that firms
had more internal funds than they thought they could profitably invest. As
can be seen in Figure 2-25, the investment outlook appears to have improved
in 2014, and the investment share of internal funds has rebounded to near its
historical average. Share buybacks, however, remain high.
Inventory Investment. Inventory investment contributed 0.3 percent‑
age point to the 2.5-percent growth rate of real GDP during the four quarters
of 2014, down from the preceding year when it accounted for 0.5 percentage
point of growth. A substantial portion of the 2013 inventory contribution
to growth was accounted for by agricultural inventory investment when a
bumper year for farm production followed the 2012 drought. In 2014, in
contrast, agricultural inventory investment was relatively steady. Inventory
investment was an important part of the year’s quarterly fluctuations,
accounting for more than one-half of the reported 2.1-percent annual rate of
decline in first-quarter real GDP. In the manufacturing and trade sector, the
buildup of inventories through 2014 was no faster than sales; by November,
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  79

Figure 2-24
Capital Services per Unit of Real Output,
Private Business Sector, 1948–2014
Index, 2009=100

110
105

2014:Q3

100
95
90
85
80

Capital
Services per
Unit of Output

Nonlinear
Trend

75
70

65
60
1948

1959

1970

1981

1992

2003

2014

Note: Annual capital services from BLS multifactor productivity database, post-1964 data
interpolated quarterly using Macroadvisers quarterly data; pre-1965 data interpolated by moving
average. Nonlinear trend is a bi-weight filter using at 60-quarter window.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Productivity and Costs; Macroeconomic Advisers; CEA
calculations.

Figure 2-25
Share Buy Backs vs. Investment,
Nonfinancial Corporate Business, 1952–2014

Percent of U.S. Internal Funds, Four-Quarter Moving Average
140

2014:Q3

Investment/
Internal Funds

120
100
80
60

Share Buy
Backs/ Internal
Funds

40
20
0
-20
1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

Note: Dashed lines represent averages from 1952-2014. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Financial Accounts of the United States.

80  |  Chapter 2

2010

manufacturing and trade businesses held sufficient inventories to supply 1.3
months of sales, roughly the same level as at year-end 2013.

State and Local Governments
When viewed over the current expansion, growth in State and local
purchases has been the weakest of any business cycle recovery in the postWorld War II period (Figure 2-26). The contribution of State and local
purchases to real GDP growth was negative during the three years from
2010 to 2012 but finally turned positive in 2013 and 2014. Even during these
past two years State and local governments contributed only 0.13 percent‑
age point to the annual rate of real GDP growth. The recent weakly positive
trend in this sector is also reflected in job gains as State and local govern‑
ments have added 100,000 jobs since January 2013. Even so, employment in
this sector remains 631,000 below its previous high. Almost 40 percent of
this net job loss was in the educational services subsector.
Despite the positive signals during 2014, major obstacles to State and
local expansion remain. State and local governments continue to spend
more than they collect in revenues and their aggregate deficit during the
first three quarters of 2014 amounted to 1.3 percent of nominal U.S. GDP
($233 billion), a deficit-to-GDP ratio that has been roughly stable for several
Figure 2-26
Real State and Local Government Purchases During Recoveries

Indexed to 100 at NBER-Defined Trough
120

2014:Q4
Average,
1960–2007

115

110

1991

105

2001

100
95

Current
(2009:Q2 Trough)

90
85
80

-24

-20

-16

-12

-8

-4
Trough
4
Quarters from Trough

8

12

16

20

24

Note: The 1960‒2007 average excludes the 1980 recession due to overlap with the 1981‒1982
recession.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts; National Bureau of
Economic Research; CEA calculations.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  81

years. In the first three quarters of 2014, expenditures remained roughly
flat at about 14.0 percent of GDP, and revenues remained flat at about 12.7
percent of GDP. In addition, unfunded pension obligations place a heavy
burden on State and local government finances. As can be seen in Figure
2-27, the size of these pension liabilities relative to State and local receipts
ballooned immediately after the recession and remains elevated at a level
that was about 57 percent of a year’s revenue in 2014. Adding in State and
local bond liabilities does not change the overall shape of the plot shown in
Figure 2-27, though they elevate the liabilities-to-receipts ratio to about 200
percent of a year’s revenue.

Labor Markets
Major labor market indicators showed a pronounced recovery in
2014. The unemployment rate dropped 1.2 percentage points in calendar
year 2014, the fastest pace since 1984. Private employment increased by 3.0
million during the 12 months of 2014, substantially faster than the average
pace of 2.4 million jobs during the three preceding years (Figure 2-28). The
job gains were wide-spread across industries. Some notable growth included
the construction industry, which continued to rebound, adding 338,000 jobs
in 2014 (11 percent of the total increase in payroll employment), professional
and business services (23 percent), and health care services (10 percent). The
strengthening of the labor market is discussed in detail in Chapter 3, along
with challenges that remain—including with respect to involuntary parttime work, long-term unemployment, labor force participation, the fluidity
of labor markets, and job quality.
Long-term unemployment peaked in 2010 and has been falling
steadily since then; declines in long-term unemployment accounted for 64
percent of the overall unemployment decline in 2014. While this progress is
encouraging, long-term unemployment remains elevated above pre-reces‑
sion levels (Figure 2-29). Data on job vacancies provided more encouraging
news about the labor market in 2014. The number of job vacancies jumped
27 percent in the first 11 months of 2014. The number of job seekers per job
vacancy stood at 1.8 in November, and is now below the 2.1 average during
the previous expansion.
The labor force participation rate fell 3.2 percentage points between
the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2014. CEA analysis finds
that about one-half of this decline was due to the aging of the baby-boom
generation into retirement, while the other half of this decline was due to a
composition of cyclical factors, longer-standing secular trends, and factors
specific to the recession. These demographic-related declines will become
steeper in the near term, echoing the rise in the number of births from 1946
82  |  Chapter 2

Figure 2-27
State and Local Pension Fund Liabilities, 1952–2014

Percent of Annual Receipts
100
80
60

2014:Q3

40
20
0

-20
-40

-60
1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

Note: Shading denotes recession.
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Financial Accounts of the United States.

2000

2010

Figure 2-28
Nonfarm Payroll Employment, 2007–2014

12-Month Change, Millions, Not Seasonally Adjusted
4

Dec-2014

Private

2

Total

0

-2
-4
-6
-8

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Note: Total excludes temporary decennial Census workers. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  83

Figure 2-29
Unemployment Rate by Duration, 1990–2014

Percent of Civilian Labor Force
8
7

Unemployed for
26 Weeks or Less

6

Dec-2014

5

4
3

Unemployed for
27 Weeks and Over

2
1
0
1990

1993

1996

1999

2002

2005

2008

2011

Note: Shading denotes recession. Dashed lines represent averages from 2001-2007.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

2014

through 1957. About a sixth of the participation-rate decline, however, was
also due to the high unemployment rates from 2009 to 2014, which caused
potential job-seekers to delay entry into the labor force or become discour‑
aged. By the fourth quarter of 2014, the participation rate remained below
what would occur if the labor market was fully recovered. Looking ahead, as
the unemployment rate is projected to continue declining during 2015, the
labor force participation rate is projected to be roughly flat, as the cyclical
rebound roughly offsets the continued downward pull of the aging popula‑
tion. See Chapter 3 for further discussion.
The unemployment rate may not tell the whole story of the potential
for increased employment. Measures of discouraged workers and those
working part time for economic reasons indicate more slack than what is
embodied in the official unemployment rate (see Chapter 3).
Labor Productivity in the Nonfarm Business Sector. Although
employment growth is strong, the growth in output has not risen much; as
such, the growth of labor productivity (that is, output per hour) has been
below its long-term average pace. Because productivity moves with the
business cycle, it should be measured over a long interval. When measured
with product-side data from the national income and product accounts (the
measure published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), labor productivity—
real nonfarm output per hour—rose at a 1.4-percent annual rate during the
almost seven years since the business cycle peak in 2007. But when measured
84  |  Chapter 2

by the income-side measure, nonfarm productivity has risen at a 1.8-percent
rate. The best measure of productivity growth is probably the average of
these figures, similar to the average used for output in Figure 2-2, yielding
an estimate of a 1.6-percent annual rate of growth in productivity thus far
in this business cycle. This is a slower pace of growth than the 2.2 percent
during the 54½-year period between the business-cycle peaks in 1953 and
2007, potentially at least in part due to the transitory after-effects of the
severe recession, including reduced investment associated with the capital
overhand discussed earlier.
How should recent productivity growth color forecasts of future
productivity? In the absence of a structural change in the process generating
productivity outcomes, the best way to forecast labor productivity is to draw
on long-term data. Averaging productivity growth over the current business
cycle with data from all the years since the business-cycle peak in 1953 yields
an estimate of 2.1 percent a year, the figure that the Administration uses to
project the long-term labor productivity growth rate, as discussed in the
long-term outlook section below.
Price and wage inflation. Core consumer price inflation (that is,
excluding food and energy prices) has been stable at around a 1.7-percent
annual rate for the past two years. The overall (headline) consumer price
index (CPI) was held down by declines in energy prices in 2013 and 2014,
increasing just 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent during the 12 months of those
two years (Figure 2-30). Food prices increased faster than overall inflation
during 2014, partly reflecting the drought in California, with meat and milk
prices up roughly 13 and 4 percent, respectively.
The price index for personal consumption expenditures in the national
income accounts (the PCE price index) is largely a re-weighted version of the
consumer price index. Because of a different method of aggregating the indi‑
vidual components, its annual increases have averaged about 0.3 percentage
point a year less than the consumer price index (since 2002 when the Bureau
of Labor Statistics started re-linking it with the pattern of expenditures every
two years). During the 12 months of 2014, for example, the core PCE price
index increased 1.3 percent, less than the 1.6 percent increase in the core
CPI. As tabulated by the Survey of Professional Forecasters, measures of
long-term expectations for CPI inflation have been well-anchored at around
2.3 percent (and 2.1 percent for the PCE price index), both during the last
recession and more recently. This steadiness suggests market confidence in
the Federal Reserve’s ability to keep inflation under control.
Nominal hourly compensation increased 2.3 percent during 2014, as
measured by the employment cost index (ECI) in the private sector (Figure
2-31). That pace was up slightly from the 1.8- and 2.0-percent rates observed
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  85

Figure 2-30
Inflation and Inflation Expectations Ten Years Forward, 2000–2014

Four-Quarter Percent Change
6

5

Consumer Price
Inflation

4

3

2014:Q4

10-Year
Consumer
Price Inflation
Forecast

2

1

Core Consumer
Price Inflation

0

-1
-2
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Shading denotes recession. The 10-Year Consumer Price Inflation Forecast data come from the
Survey of Professional Forecasters.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Survey of Professional
Forecasters.

Figure 2-31
Hourly Compensation Increases vs. Inflation Expectations, 2000–2014

Four-Quarter Percent Change
5.0
4.5

Employment
Cost Index
Increase

4.0
3.5
3.0

2014:Q4

2.5

10-Year
Consumer Price
Inflation
Forecast

2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Shading denotes recession. The 10-Year Consumer Price Inflation Forecast data come from the
Survey of Professional Forecasters.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Survey of Professional
Forecasters.

86  |  Chapter 2

during the preceding two years. The faster pace of growth in 2014 was
accounted for by take-home wages and salaries as well as hourly benefits.
It was not, however, in employer-paid health insurance, which slowed to a
2.4-percent increase during 2014, down from 3.0 percent during 2013. As
can be seen from Figure 2-31, increases in nominal hourly compensation
have been running lower than long-term price inflation expectations for the
entire post-2008 period. The low increases in hourly compensation relative
to prices are notable because—if the labor share of nonfarm business output
were to be stable—hourly compensation growth would exceed output price
inflation (in the nonfarm business sector) by the rate of productivity growth.
That real hourly compensation growth has been below productivity growth
suggests that the elevated unemployment rate and the overall slack in the
labor market have suppressed hourly compensation growth since 2008.

The Long-Term Outlook
The 10-Year Forecast
Although real GDP growth averaged 2.2 percent during the four-year
period, 2011 through 2014, major components of private domestic demand
point to faster growth in 2015. Meanwhile, insofar as inflation remains low
and stable, the supply side does not appear to impose near-term constraints.
Although Federal fiscal policy has generally increased the level of output (as
discussed in Chapter 3), the year-to-year decline in the deficit-to-GDP ratio
implies that Federal fiscal policy subtracted from real GDP growth from FY
2010 through FY 2014. The Administration projects that the deficit-to-GDP
ratio will edge up in FY 2015 under the terms of the bipartisan budget agree‑
ment for FY 2015 that Congress approved in mid-December 2014. With a
strengthening State and local sector, fiscal actions will likely turn from being
a drag to slightly expansionary in 2015. For consumers, faster job growth
and a pickup in nominal and real wage gains in 2014 will probably boost
spending in 2015. These income gains—following a multiyear period of
successful deleveraging—leave consumers in an improved financial posi‑
tion. Beyond the income gains, the increases in housing and stock-market
wealth during the past three years will probably also support strong growth
in consumer spending in 2015. Business investment also shows brighter
prospects for growth in 2015 than in earlier years. Businesses will need new
facilities, equipment, and intellectual property to service growing demand.
The decline in price of imported petroleum during the last quarter of 2014
will—if this lower price persists—save American businesses and consumers
about $70 billion in 2015, or enough to boost real GDP by 0.4 percent.
The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  87

Table 2-2
Administration Economic Forecast

Nominal
GDP

Real
GDP
(chaintype)

GDP
price
index
(chaintype)

Consumer
price
index
(CPIU)

Unemployment
rate
(percent)

Percent change, Q4-to-Q4

Interest
rate,
91-day
Treasury
bills
(percent)

Interest
rate, 10year
Treasury
notes
(percent)

Level, calendar year

2013
(actual)

4.6

3.1

1.4

1.2

7.4

0.1

2.4

2014

3.5

2.1

1.4

1.5

6.2

0.0

2.6

2015

4.6

3.0

1.5

1.8

5.4

0.4

2.8

2016

4.8

3.0

1.7

2.0

5.1

1.5

3.3

2017

4.6

2.7

1.9

2.2

4.9

2.4

3.7

2018

4.5

2.5

2.0

2.3

4.9

2.9

4.0

2019

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.0

3.2

4.3

2020

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.1

3.3

4.5

2021

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.2

3.4

4.5

2022

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.2

3.4

4.5

2023

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.2

3.5

4.5

2024

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.2

3.5

4.5

2025

4.3

2.3

2.0

2.3

5.2

3.5

4.5

Note: These forecasts were based on data available as of November 20, 2014, and were
used for the FY 2016 Budget. The interest rate on 91-day T-bills is measured on a
secondary-market discount basis.
Source: The forecast was done jointly with the Council of Economic Advisers, the
Department of the Treasury, and the Office of Management and Budget.

But not all signals are green, and the United States faces headwinds
from abroad. The available 2014 indicators suggest that the economies of
Japan and our euro area trading partners are sagging. A slowdown abroad
not only reduces our exports, but also raises risks of financial and other
spillovers to the U.S. economy.
88  |  Chapter 2

With the unemployment rate in December 2014 at 5.6 percent, the
labor force participation rate still below its expected level given demographic
trends, the share of those working part-time for economic reasons still ele‑
vated, and the capacity utilization rate in manufacturing at about 78 percent,
the economy still has room to utilize more of its potential.
The Administration’s economic forecast, as finalized on November 20,
2014 and presented in Table 2-2, underpins the President’s FY 2016 Budget.
By long-standing convention, this forecast reflects the economic impact of
the President’s budgetary and other economic proposals which, in the FY
2016 Budget, primarily act to increase the growth rate of potential GDP as
discussed in more detail in Box 2-5. The Administration expects real GDP
growth to increase from a projected 2.1-percent annual rate during the four
quarters of 2014 to 3.0 percent during 2015. (Data released after the final
forecast show a faster-than-expected growth rate during 2014 of 2.5 percent
rather than 2.1 percent.) The long-term projections for 2016 and beyond, as
is standard for the Administration’s Budget forecast, assume enactment of
the President’s policies, including substantial investments in infrastructure,
reforms to the tax and immigration systems, liberalization of trade, and
deficit reduction—all of which will work to support growth (Box 2-5).
Real GDP is projected to grow 3.0 percent at an annual rate during
the eight quarters of 2015 and 2016 and then to grow 2.7 percent during
2017. All of these growth rates exceed the estimated rate of potential real
GDP growth, which is 2.3 percent annually over the long run. As a conse‑
quence, the unemployment rate is likely to fall—eventually averaging 4.9
percent in 2016 and 2017. This level, below the Administration’s estimate
of 5.2 percent for the rate of unemployment consistent with stable inflation,
can be expected to incrementally raise inflation. The core PCE price index
increased by only 1.4 percent during the four quarters of 2014. By 2017,
however, consumer price inflation is expected to stabilize at 2.0 percent for
the PCE price index and 2.25 percent for the consumer price index.
Nominal interest rates are currently low because the economy has not
fully healed from the last recession, while monetary policy has kept rates low
across a wide range of debt securities with long maturities. Consistent with
the Federal Reserve’s forward policy guidance at the time of the forecast,
interest rates are projected to rise as the expected period of very low shortterm rates diminishes. Eventually, real interest rates (that is, nominal rates
less the projected rate of inflation) are predicted to be near, but a bit below,
their historical average. These interest-rate paths are close to those pro‑
jected by professional economists. During the past several years, consensus
forecasts for long-term interest rates and long-term economic growth have

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  89

Box 2-5: Policy Proposals to Raise Long-Run Potential Output
A key element of the Administration’s economic forecast is the
growth rate of real GDP in later years of the budget window once the
economy’s cyclical recovery is complete. Although there is considerable
uncertainty around the longer-term outlook, this part of the forecast is
critically important because it attempts to summarize the economy’s
long-run growth potential based solely on structural factors like the size
of the labor force and worker productivity. The Administration projects
that this long-run potential growth rate is 2.3 percent a year. For refer‑
ence, the FOMC estimates a range of long-run output growth of 2.0 to
2.3 percent a year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO 2015) puts this
rate at 2.2 percent a year during 2018 to 2024, and the October 2014 Blue
Chip consensus panel forecasts an average growth rate of 2.3 percent a
year during the five years 2021 to 2025.
The Administration’s forecast for long-run potential output
growth is at the high end of this range because, consistent with longstanding Administration practice, it incorporates the economic impact
of the assumed enactment of the President’s policy proposals that would
expand the labor force and increase productivity. These proposals
include: the productivity increases associated with immigration reform;
investments in surface transportation infrastructure and other areas;
business tax reform; universal preschool and investments in child care
that would boost female labor force participation; the Trans-Pacific
Partnership and other policies to expand cross-border trade and invest‑
ment; and approximately $1.6 trillion in primary (non-interest) deficit
reduction.
The President’s agenda is expected to deliver a substantial lift to
the economy’s future prospects and would raise the level of long-run
potential output by several percentage points. The Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International
Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the President’s agenda would add
2.5 percent to GDP after five years, larger than their estimate for any
other G-7 economy. CBO (2014b) also estimated positive effects from
the President’s proposals, although that assessment likely understates
the benefits because it included neither trade agreements nor business
tax reform.
Immigration reform. The policy proposal with the single largest
effect on long-run potential output is immigration reform. The President
continues to support comprehensive immigration reform along the
lines of the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and
Immigration Modernization Act that passed the U.S. Senate in June
2013. CBO (2013) has estimated that this legislation, if enacted, would

90  |  Chapter 2

raise the level of real GDP by 3.3 percent after 10 years. This effect is
large because immigration reform would benefit the economy through
a multitude of channels, including counteracting the effects of an aging
native-born population, attracting highly skilled immigrants that engage
in innovative or entrepreneurial activities, and enabling better jobmatching for currently undocumented workers who are offered a path
to earned citizenship. Much of the overall effect is due to an expanded
workforce—a factor already reflected in the budget savings from
immigration reform and thus not added to the forecast to avoid double
counting. However, 0.7 percentage point of the total 10-year effect is
due to increased total factor productivity, which may be included in the
economic forecast without double counting. A portion of these benefits
will be realized as a result of the administrative actions announced by
President Obama in November 2014 (CEA 2014).
Investments in surface transportation infrastructure and other
areas. The Administration’s FY 2016 Budget includes $116 billion over
10 years in additional surface transportation infrastructure investment
relative to a plausible baseline. The budget also provides for about
$75 billion in additional funding in both the non-defense and defense
discretionary categories over the next two years, with additional funding
in future years. A substantial fraction of this spending will be devoted
to investments in physical infrastructure, research and development, or
education and training, all of which can help to boost productivity in
the years ahead. Notably, the IMF (2014) recently found that given the
current underutilization of resources in many advanced economies, a 1
percent of GDP permanent increase in public infrastructure investment
could raise output by as much as 2.8 percent after 10 years.
Business tax reform. President Obama’s framework for business
tax reform, issued in 2012, sets out a series of changes that would
strengthen the economy in three main ways. First, the President’s plan
would encourage investment in the United States. Second, by moving to
a more neutral tax system, the proposal would result in a more efficient
allocation of capital. And third, to the degree the new system better
addresses externalities, for example with a more generous research and
development credit, it would also increase total factor productivity
and therefore growth. The precise effects of these changes are difficult
to quantify but have the potential to be sizeable (See Chapter 5 of this
Report for more discussion).
Policies to boost female labor force participation. President
Obama has pursued policies that enable all workers to participate in
the labor force to their fullest desire by making it easier for workers to
balance career and family responsibilities. The Administration’s FY 2016

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  91

Budget calls for tripling the maximum tax credit for child care to $3,000
for young children, while enabling more middle-class families to receive
the maximum credit. In addition, the President has proposed, every year
since 2013, a Federal-State partnership that would provide all four-year
olds from low- and moderate-income families with access to high-quality
preschool. Finally, the Budget calls for technical assistance to help States
implement and develop paid parental leave programs. A growing empiri‑
cal literature on the responsiveness of labor supply to family-friendly
policies suggests that implementation of these measures could materially
increase female labor force participation and GDP. (See Chapter 4 in this
Report for more discussion.)
Policies to expand cross-border trade and investment. The
Administration is pursuing a number of international agreements that
would boost cross-border trade and investment, including the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (T-TIP), an expansion of the Information Technology
Agreement, a Trade in Services Agreement, an Environmental Goods
Agreement, and a Trade Facilitation Agreement. While the details of
TPP are still evolving, one study supported by the Peterson Institute
for International Economics (Petri and Plummer 2012) found that TPP
could raise U.S. real income by 0.4 percent over approximately 12 years.
The European Commission (2013) has estimated a roughly similar effect
of T-TIP on the U.S. economy, amounting to an increase of 0.4 percent
of GDP in 2027. (See Chapter 7 in this Report for more discussion.)
Deficit reduction. CBO’s February 2013 analysis of the macroeco‑
nomic effects of alternative budgetary paths finds that a hypothetical $2
trillion in primary deficit reduction over 10 years raises the long-term
level of real GDP by 0.5 percent. This effect arises because lower Federal
deficits translate into higher national saving, lower interest rates, and in
turn, greater private investment. The Administration’s FY 2016 Budget
proposal includes $1.6 trillion in primary deficit reduction relative to
the Administration’s plausible baseline, enough to stabilize and begin to
reduce the National debt-to-GDP ratio.

fallen. The link between long-term growth prospects and long-term interest
rates is examined in Box 2-6.

GDP Growth over the Long Term
As discussed earlier, the growth rate of the economy over the long run
is determined by the growth of its supply-side components, including those

92  |  Chapter 2

governed by demographics and technological change. The growth rate that
characterizes the long-run trend in real U.S. GDP—or potential GDP—plays
an important role in guiding the Administration’s long-run forecast. For the
first three years of the forecast interval--2015, 2016, and 2017--real GDP
growth is projected to average 2.9 percent at an annual rate as the economy
moves back to its full potential, before shifting thereafter to an average of
2.3 percent, the Administration’s estimate of the long-term rate of real GDP
growth. These growth rates are slower than historical averages because of the
aging of the baby-boom generation into the retirement years. The potential
real GDP projections are based on the assumption that the President’s full
set of policy proposals, which would boost long-run output, are enacted (See
Box 2-5)11.
Table 2-3 shows the Administration’s forecast for the contribution of
each supply-side factor to the growth in potential real GDP: the workingage population, the rate of labor force participation, the employed share of
the labor force, the ratio of nonfarm business employment to household
employment, the length of the workweek, labor productivity, and the ratio
of real GDP to nonfarm output. The two columns of Table 2-3 show the
average annual growth rate for each factor during a long period of history
and over the forecast horizon. The first column shows the long-run average
growth rates between the business-cycle peak of 1953 and the latest quarter
available when the forecast was finalized in mid-November 2014. Many of
these variables show substantial fluctuations within business cycles, so that
long-period growth rates must be examined to uncover underlying trends.
The second column shows average projected growth rates between the third
quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2025; that is, the entire 11¼-year
interval covered by the Administration forecast.
The population is projected to grow 0.9  percent a year, on average,
over the projection period (line 1, column 2), following the latest projec‑
tion from the Social Security Administration. Over this same period, the
labor force participation rate is projected to decline 0.4 percent a year (line
2, column 2). This projected decline in the labor force participation rate
primarily reflects a negative demographic trend originating in the aging
of the baby-boom generation into retirement. During the next couple of
years, however, rising labor demand due to the continuing business-cycle
11 The one exception is that the forecast does not reflect the increase in the size of labor force
attributable to the President’s immigration reform. The reason is that the budgetary impact of
the added GDP associated with this change is already incorporated in the budget as a policy
line, so including this effect in the economic forecast would, in effect, double count it. CBO
estimates that the President’s immigration reforms would also expand total factor productivity,
but did not incorporate this effect into their budgetary estimates; as a result, the productivity
effects are included in the Administration’s forecast.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  93

Box 2-6: Forecasting the Long-Run Interest Rate
A key input to the U.S. economic forecast is a projection for the
long-run nominal interest rate. Recent patterns in bond markets raise
a number of questions about the future path of interest rates. Nominal
and real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates have been declining since the
mid-1980s. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve
conducted large-scale purchases of longer-term securities, pushing
long-term real interest rates down, even below zero. Despite this low rate
of return, there has been a strong global demand for U.S. government
bonds as a safe haven for savings, including demand by foreign central
banks for dollar reserves.
Figure 2-viii shows the nominal interest rate and the ex post real
interest rate for 10-year Treasury securities. The ex post real interest rate
is defined as the nominal rate less realized inflation (whereas the ex ante
real interest rate is the nominal rate less expected inflation). The figure
illustrates the 30-year decline in ex post real and nominal interest rates
and the behavior of real and nominal rates across different monetary
policy regimes.

Percent
20
15

Figure 2-viii
Real and Nominal 10-Year Rate, 1946–2013

Bretton Woods Era

10

Modern Inflation
Stability Era

Nominal

5

2013

0
Real

-5

Great
Inflation
Era

-10
-15
-20

1946 1951 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011

Note: Shading denotes different monetary regimes.
Source: Robert J. Shiller, Yale University.

94  |  Chapter 2

Economic growth and the long-run real interest rate. The basic
general equilibrium analysis of real and nominal interest rates originated
with Irving Fisher (1930), who characterized the equilibrium relation‑
ship between the real return on investment and the compensation to sav‑
ers for postponing consumption. The Ramsey optimal-growth model is
a convenient framework for conveying these fundamental relationships.
The model and its extensions characterize the behavior of the economy
on its steady-state growth path (Ramsey 1928; Cass 1965; Koopmans
1965).
The Ramsey model is based on the dynamic saving and investment
decisions of a representative household. In a balanced-growth equilib‑
rium without uncertainty, optimal household decision-making implies a
formula for the real interest rate:
r = MPK = ρ + σg,	(1)
Here, MPK denotes the marginal product of capital. When
households have perfect foresight of the future, the marginal product of
capital in steady state depends on the rate of discount on future income
(ρ), the per capita growth rate of the economy (g), and the rate at which
people are willing to substitute between current and future income (1/σ
is the intertemporal elasticity of substitution). If growth is expected to
be high, people will wish to borrow against their future higher income
to consume more now, and this will drive up the interest rate. At some
point, the higher interest rate will discourage borrowing and restore
equilibrium between the return on capital investment (which reflects the
economy’s ability to produce income in the future) and the household’s
willingness to postpone consumption.
In the balanced growth equilibrium (where all variables grow at
the same rate), the marginal product of capital is constant. The rate of
population growth does not affect the steady-state interest rate because,
on the balanced growth path, the household saves enough for future
generations to keep the ratio of capital per unit of effective labor con‑
stant. In a frictionless world where capital adjusts instantaneously to
changes in the population or to productivity, (1) would hold at all times.
More generally, capital adjusts with a lag and (1) is more appropriate as
a characterization of the relationship between productivity and interest
rates in the long run.
Under the illustrative assumptions that σ = 1 and ρ = 0.4, the
most recent Administration forecast of labor productivity growth of 2.1
percent per year generates an approximation of the long-run real interest
rate of 2.5 percent. (With these values for σ and ρ the Ramsey model’s
prediction is roughly consistent with actual real interest rates over the
1953-2007 period; however, the model’s interest-rate implications are

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  95

reasonably robust to a range of other σ, ρ combinations.) Note that this
forecast abstracts from uncertainty so that there is no risk premium. This
forecast also does not factor in inflation. Given the number of assump‑
tions needed and the uncertainty about parameter values and future
productivity growth, the forecast of the real rate of interest is approxi‑
mate at best. What can be said with some confidence is that a reduction
in future labor productivity growth should be reflected in a reduction in
the long-run real interest rate.
Moving away from the strict assumptions of the model, other eco‑
nomic forces will potentially affect the interest rate. Such forces include
declining rates of population growth, the aging of the population, and a
decline in the government debt-to-GDP ratio. The magnitudes of these
effects are hard to quantify but theory suggests that such shifts will exert
downward pressure on interest rates.
Global factors are also likely to play a role. In a world with
integrated markets, the global real interest rate is determined by the
equality of the global supply of saving and world investment demand,
as illustrated in Figure 2-ix. The gap between saving and investment in
emerging markets was especially large in the mid-2000s, contributing
to the “global saving glut” that helped to fuel asset bubbles in financial
markets. The emerging market gap has declined and the IMF projects it
will be near zero by the end of 2019. Figure 2-ix also shows that global
saving and investment have trended up in the post-crisis period, and
that trend is projected to continue for some years. If data measurement

Percent of GDP
35

Figure 2-ix
Global Saving and Investment, 1992–2019
Saving

33

31
Investment

29
27

Saving

25

Investment

23

19

Advanced
Economies

Saving

17
1995

1998

2001

2004

2007

2010

2013

Note: Dotted lines indicate forecasts.
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook (October 2014).

96  |  Chapter 2

World

Investment

21

15
1992

Emerging
Economies

2016

2019

were perfect, global saving would equal global investment exactly.
Accordingly, it is not the gap but the levels of both series that are of inter‑
est. The large-scale deleveraging by households and by governments has
resulted in an expansion of global saving that has exerted downward
pressure on interest rates. Past experience with deleveraging suggests
that this process could take a long while, indicating that low real interest
rates may be part of the global landscape for some time to come.
Financial markets and the long-run nominal rate. An alternative
forecast of the long-run rate is based on information from financial
markets that incorporates real-world uncertainties into asset prices. The
nominal interest rate on a long-term bond can be decomposed into three
components: the real return on rolling over short-term assets during the
holding period of the bond, the expected rate of inflation, and a term
premium that compensates for the risk borne by the investor over the
life of the bond. Precisely defined, the interest rate on long-term nominal
bonds also includes a liquidity premium (because markets for some
securities may be thin) and a credit risk premium reflecting the solvency
of the lender. However, most financial economists assume these last
two components are minuscule for the U.S. Treasury market. On those
assumptions, forecasts of the short-term real interest rate, expected
inflation, and the term premium suffice to forecast the long-run nominal
interest rate.
Inflation expectations are a major determinant of the yield on
Treasuries, which guarantee a nominal rate of return. The difference
between nominal Treasury yields and the guaranteed real rate of return
on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) is usually referred to
as the “breakeven” rate of inflation compensation. The current 10-year
breakeven inflation compensation rate is 1.9 percent, and the 10-year
breakeven inflation compensation rate starting in 2024 is 2.0 percent.
Though often cited as a gauge of inflation expectations, the breakeven
inflation compensation rate reflects more than market inflation expecta‑
tions: also embedded in it are a risk premium that reflects the covariance
of inflation with wealth, a liquidity premium that reflects the relative
ease of converting the assets to cash, and other factors that reflect the
relative demands for nominal and inflation-indexed securities. A point
to note in interpreting the data is that TIPS are indexed to the CPI,
whereas the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2 percent a year applies
to the PCE, which (as noted earlier in this chapter) tends to rise more
slowly than the CPI. Inflation expectations can be inferred from surveys,
however, and these indicate long-run rates of expected inflation close to
the Federal Reserve’s target.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  97

The expected short-term rate is based on a forecast of monetary
policy. The median projection released by the FOMC suggests a future
Federal funds rate of 3.75 percent. Historically, the Federal funds rate is
slightly higher than the rate on a three-month Treasury security, imply‑
ing an expected three-month Treasury rate of roughly 3.5 percent. This
rate would correspond to a projected short-term real interest rate of 1.5
percent a year with inflation expectations at 2 percent a year.
There is an extensive empirical literature that estimates the term
premium, which reflects the extent to which the long-term nominal
bond is a good hedge for other risks faced by the investor (for example,
the covariance of the return on the bond with investor wealth and with
inflation). Recent financial data indicate that the term premium has been
falling and is in the neighborhood of 1 percent for a ten-year bond. It
is possible that future changes in monetary policy or shifts in investor
beliefs about the Federal Reserve’s reaction function could reverse the
downward trend in the term premium, but most forecasters predict that
the term premium will remain low in the near future. Adding a term
premium of 1.0 percent to the short-term nominal rate of 3.5 percent
suggests a long-term (10-year) nominal rate of 4.5 percent.
Although reached through different reasoning, the rate on 10-year
Treasury notes implied by financial markets is in the same neighbor‑
hood as that based on the steady-state prediction of a Ramsey model.
This is not surprising – if the Ramsey model is a valid description of
the economy, Federal Reserve policy and market expectations about
the future will ultimately conform to the equilibrium conditions in the
Ramsey model. There is a gap, however, between the rate implied by
the Ramsey model presented here – which abstracts from inflation and
uncertainty and therefore does not include a term premium – and the
rate implied by financial markets, which in principle incorporate all risks
but could be strongly affected by current economic conditions. Fully
reconciling the two requires a lower expected productivity growth rate,
a higher elasticity of intertemporal substitution, or a much smaller term
premium than seems realistic to most economists.

recovery is expected to offset some of this downward trend. Young adults,
in particular, have been preparing themselves for labor-force entry through
additional education. The share of young adults aged 16 to 24 enrolled in
school between January 2008 and December 2012 rose well above its trend,
enough to account for the entire decline in the labor force participation rate
for this age group over this period. As these young adults complete their
education, most are expected to enter or reenter the labor force.

98  |  Chapter 2

Table 2-3
Supply-Side Components of Actual
and Potential Real GDP Growth, 1953–2024
Growth ratea
History

5

Component
Civilian noninstitutional population aged 16+
Labor force participation rate
Employed share of the labor force
Ratio of nonfarm business employment to
household employment
Average weekly hours (nonfarm business)

6

Output per hour (productivity, nonfarm business) c

1
2
3
4

7
8

Ratio of real GDP to nonfarm business outputc
Sum: Actual real GDPc
Memo:
9
Potential real GDPd
10
Output per worker differential: GDP vs

Forecast

1953:Q2 to
2014:Q3b
1.4
0.1
-0.1
0.0

2014:Q3 to
2025:Q4
0.9
-0.4
0.1
0.0

-0.2

0.0

2.1

2.1

-0.2
3.0

-0.3
2.5

3.2

2.3

-0.3
-0.2
nonfarme
a
All contributions are in percentage points at an annual rate, forecast finalized November
2014. Total may not add up due to rounding.
b
1953:Q2 was a business-cycle peak. 2014:Q3 is the latest quarter with available data.
c
Real GDP and real nonfarm business output are measured as the average of income- and
product-side measures.
d
Computed as (real GDP, line 8) less 2*(the employed share of the labor force, line 3)
e
Real GDP per household worker less nonfarm business output per nonfarm
business worker. This can be shown to equal (line 7) - (line 4).
Note: Population, labor force, and household employment have been adjusted for
discontinuities in the population series. Nonfarm business employment, and the workweek,
come from the Labor Productivity and Costs database maintained by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Labor Productivity and Costs;
Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts; Department of the
Treasury; Office of Management and Budget; CEA calculations.

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  99

The employed share of the labor force—which is equal to one minus
the unemployment rate—is expected to increase at an average 0.1 percent a
year over the next 11 years. It is expected to be unchanged after 2018 when
the unemployment rate converges to the rate consistent with stable inflation.
The workweek is projected to be roughly flat during the forecast period,
somewhat less of a decline than its long-term historical trend yearly growth
of -0.2 percent. The workweek is expected to stabilize because some of the
demographic forces pushing it down are largely exhausted, and because a
longer workweek is projected to compensate for the anticipated decline in
the labor force participation rate in what will eventually become an economy
with a tight labor supply.
Labor productivity is projected to increase 2.1 percent a year over the
entire forecast interval (line 6, column 2), the same as the average growth
rate from 1953 to 2014 (line 6, column 1). Productivity tends to grow faster
in the nonfarm business sector than for the economy as a whole, because
productivity in the government and household sectors of the economy is
presumed (by a national-income accounting convention) not to grow (that
is, output in those two sectors grows only through the use of more produc‑
tion inputs). The difference in these growth rates is expected to subtract
0.2 percent a year during the 10-year projection period, similar to the 0.3
percent a year decline during the long-term historical interval (line 10,
columns 1 and 2). This productivity differential can be shown to be equal to
the sum of two other growth rates in the table: the ratio of nonfarm business
employment to household employment (line 4) and the ratio of real GDP to
nonfarm business output (line 7).
Summing the growth rates of all of its components, real GDP is pro‑
jected to rise at an average 2.5 percent a year over the projection period (line
8, column 2), somewhat faster than the 2.3 percent annual growth rate for
potential real GDP (line 9, column 2). Actual GDP is expected to grow faster
than potential GDP primarily because of the projected rise in the employ‑
ment rate (line 3, column 2) as millions of currently unemployed workers
find jobs over the next two years.
Real potential GDP (line 9, column 2) is projected to grow more
slowly than the long-term historical growth rate of 3.2 percent a year (line
9, column 1). As discussed earlier, the projected slowdown in real poten‑
tial GDP growth primarily reflects the lower projected growth rate of the
working-age population and the retirement of the baby-boom cohort. If the
effects of immigration reform on labor-force size were incorporated into this
forecast, however, then it would show a higher potential real GDP growth
rate.

100  |  Chapter 2

Upside and Downside of Forecast Risks. Like any forecast, the
Administration’s economic forecast comes with risk, but several are worth
enumerating here. Among the upside risks is a sustained low price for
imported petroleum. Much of the decline in petroleum prices occurred after
the Administration forecast was finalized in mid-November 2014; at that
time, oil-price futures markets anticipated general recovery in prices. Since
then, the long-term futures prices have fallen. The housing sector also has
some upside potential given the current low level of household formation
and its potential for increase. On the downside, persistent European risks of
deflation and slow growth continue to constrain the global economy. There
are also concerns about a slowdown in China, and the speed with which
Japan will rebound from the effects of the 2014 consumption tax hike. Over
the longer-run, there are some downside risks to the estimate of potential
growth insofar as more recent lower productivity growth rates continue.

Conclusion
The economy continued to strengthen during 2014, especially in the
labor market with robust employment gains and deep declines in unem‑
ployment. The labor market saw the fastest pace of job gains since 1999,
extending the longest streak of uninterrupted private-sector job growth on
record and contributing to an American recovery that has outpaced most
of its competitors and left a nation well-prepared for continued resilience.
Conditions are ripe for another year of robust growth in 2015 as progress in
consumer deleveraging and gains in household wealth have progressed in a
way that should support further growth in consumer spending. Residential
investment is also likely to expand as the financial constraints that have held
back mortgage financing are gradually relaxed and demographic pressures
for a larger housing stock become evident. Uncertainty over fiscal policy
is lower than in earlier years because of Congress’ December 2014 budget
agreement. Recent declines in imported prices for petroleum will boost the
real income of domestic consumers and reduce near-term inflation. Core
inflation is low and below the Federal Reserve’s target, and so some upward
drift in inflation is projected.
The U.S. economy strengthened last year against a backdrop of
relatively weak growth in the rest of the world. This differential is likely to
persist into 2015 as growth projections for our major trading partners in
Europe, Japan, and some emerging markets are currently less favorable than
for the United States. This will dampen demand growth for U.S. exports.
The last several years have seen an improvement in the U.S. current account

The Year in Review and the Years Ahead  |  101

balance (a falling deficit). Whether this trend continues will also depend, in
part, on relative demand conditions at home and abroad.  
Looking ahead, some of the most important decisions that we make
as a Nation are the structural policies that influence long-term growth. The
President’s Budget sets forth a number of policies that can be expected to
increase the long-term growth rate of potential GDP.
Such policies also aim to boost aggregate demand in the near term and
to improve our long-term competitiveness, while promising fiscal restraint
over the long run. They are an essential complement to policies that make
sure this growth is shared by the middle class and those working to get into
the middle class.

102  |  Chapter 2

C H A P T E R

3

ACHIEVEMENTS AND
CHALLENGES IN THE
U.S. LABOR MARKET

A

fundamental metric for judging an economy’s performance is its suc‑
cess in providing abundant job opportunities that pay good wages
and provide an opportunity to get ahead. Five-and-one-half years ago—in
the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression—the
U.S. economy faced a massive challenge, as GDP shrank and the number
of jobless workers rose to more than 15 million. Since then, a successful
multifaceted policy response, including actions by the President, Congress,
and the Federal Reserve, combined with the determination of the American
people, has enabled the U.S. economy to dig out of that deep hole, putting
more people back to work, reducing the unemployment rate, and creating
a virtuous cycle in which higher consumer purchasing power supports
greater economic activity and job creation. After four years of recovery in
employment, in 2014, the unemployment rate declined at its most rapid rate
in nearly three decades. By the end of the year, it had fallen to 5.6 percent,
close to its pre-recession average of 5.3 percent.1 But the United States labor
market still has more work to do to achieve the full health that comes with
not just low levels of unemployment, but also a labor market that encourages
labor force participation, supports quality jobs, and facilitates productive
matching of workers and positions—all of which are essential to creating
well-paying jobs and supporting robust family incomes.
This chapter begins by discussing the substantial progress that has
been made in healing the labor market since 2009, and the acceleration in
progress seen throughout 2014. By October 2014, the unemployment rate
had fallen more rapidly over the preceding 12 months than in any 12-month
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations. Throughout this
chapter, unless otherwise specified, data and statistics are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Current Population Survey or CEA calculations from these data.

103

period since 1984. The sharp drop in unemployment came amid a stabiliza‑
tion in the labor force participation rate and, for the year as a whole busi‑
nesses added 3.0 million jobs—the most in any year since 1997. Moreover,
nominal wage growth for production and nonsupervisory workers—a group
that represents about 80 percent of workers who have lower earnings on
average—continued to rise slightly faster than inflation, a reversal from
what had been seen earlier in the recovery. Real wage growth was aided
by low levels of inflation, including declining prices in the fourth quarter
of 2014. Moreover, workers’ take-home pay was helped by the fact that a
typical worker’s contribution to employer-sponsored family health insur‑
ance coverage rose at roughly one-half the rate seen on average prior to the
recession, continuing a recent trend of subdued health cost growth. Finally,
2014 continued to see the economy shift away from part-time work toward
full-time work, as all of the employment growth was in full-time jobs. Over
the course of the recovery, the share of the labor market in full-time jobs
has increased and by the end of 2014, the number of Americans holding
full-time jobs had increased more from January 2010 than it had added total
jobs over the same period.
Despite these positive developments, more work remains to both
complete the cyclical recovery and address underlying structural issues that
predate the recession, some of which have been present for decades. As
described in Chapter 1, three key factors shape the economic situation of
the middle class: productivity growth, the distribution of income, and labor
force participation. As Chapter 1 also notes, due to a combination of longterm economic challenges and the Great Recession, the middle class has seen
little improvement in real incomes since 1997 despite productivity growth,
signaling at least one area where much work remains to be done in the labor
market and overall economy.
After reviewing the notable progress in the labor market over 2014, this
chapter steps back to consider a set of five long-run issues the labor market
must address. These are: i) a long-standing decline in the participation rate
that has been compounded by the recession and the retirement boom; ii) a
rapidly recovering long-term unemployment rate that nonetheless remains
elevated; iii) a similar pattern of rapid decline but continued elevation in the
rate of people working part time but who are seeking full-time employment;
iv) cyclical improvements in labor market fluidity that are set against a back‑
drop of a long-term decline in a variety of metrics of labor market fluidity,
or labor market “churn”; and v) real wage growth that is beginning to pick
up but is still insufficient. These phenomena have, to varying degrees, been
building up in the years or decades before the Great Recession and, in many
cases, are following patterns similar to those in other recent recessions,
104  |  Chapter 3

particularly those from 1980 on. This suggests that these issues are linked –
for example, when a shock hits the economy, less labor market fluidity can
result in more long-term unemployment and part-time employment and
a lower participation rate than would occur if the labor market were more
dynamic. In many cases, the increasingly rapid recovery in the labor market
will help to address these challenges. In some cases, these trends may reflect
a natural progression that would be undesirable to reverse, such as rising
retirements among aging workers. However, additional policy steps are
needed to counteract the continued effects of the Great Recession as well as
longer-term trends that predated it. Consequently, this chapter concludes by
laying out key elements of the President’s middle-class economics agenda,
which includes policies aimed at growing and supporting middle-class
families, strengthening the labor market and expanding economic oppor‑
tunity. As the past several years suggest, economic policies that focus on
strengthening the middle class create a stronger foundation for shared and
sustainable growth in the years to come.

The State of the U.S. Labor Market in 2014
Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the economy has
made enormous strides toward recovery, in terms of output, labor market
indicators, consumer confidence, and numerous other measures. Perhaps
no recent economic development has been more surprising than the rapid
fall in the unemployment rate and commensurate pickup in the rate of job
growth in 2014, which far outperformed forecast expectations. From its
2001-07 average of 5.3 percent, the unemployment rate hit 10.0 percent
in October 2009; but as of December 2014, the rate stands at 5.6 percent,
having recovered 93 percent of the way back to its pre-recession average.2
Notably, 2014 marked the strongest year of job growth since 1999 and the
strongest year of private-sector job growth since 1997. December’s 5.6-per‑
cent unemployment rate was achieved roughly five years ahead of consensus
forecasts made as recently as 2013, as shown in Figure 3-1.
In part due to a vigorous policy response to the economic crisis, the
United States is in a sustained economic recovery. The Administration’s
early actions, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009 and middle-class tax cuts, helped catalyze this recovery: the Council of
Economic Advisers (CEA) estimates that between early 2009 and the end of

2 Throughout this chapter, the phrase “pre-recession average” refers to the average between
December 2001 and December 2007, the most recent expansionary period before the Great
Recession.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  105

Figure 3-1
Actual and Consensus Forecast Unemployment Rate, 2008–2014

Percent of Labor Force
11

2010 Forecast

10
Actual

9

2011 Forecast
2012 Forecast

8

2013 Forecast

7

2014 Forecast

6
5

4

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

Note: Annual forecasts are current as of March of the stated year. Dashed line represents December 2014
value (5.6 percent). Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; Blue Chip Economic Indicators.

2012, the Recovery Act added a total of more than 6.0 million job years to
the economy (CEA 2014b).
In 2014, the rate of decline in the unemployment rate picked up to an
average of 0.1 percentage point per month, higher than the rate of decline
from 2010 to 2013, with much of the decline reflected in lower long-term
unemployment. Although the long-term unemployed account for only about
one-third of all unemployed, these reductions in long-term unemployment
accounted for about two-thirds of the total unemployment decline in 2014.
Falling long-term unemployment combined with a stable participation rate
in 2014 suggests that the long-term unemployed are going back to work at
higher rates (Cajner and Ratner 2014).
The improvement in the health of the labor market is also apparent
in a range of labor market indicators, as shown in Figure 3-2. The headline
unemployment rate accounts for jobless individuals who are actively seeking
employment. Broader measures of labor market underutilization include
individuals who are not looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available (discouraged workers); others available for work but who have not
looked for work in the past month (other marginally attached); and those
who are working part-time but would like full-time work (part-time for
economic reasons). All of these indicators tell a broadly consistent story:
the U.S. economic recovery has made considerable progress, but it is not

106  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-2
Elevation and Recovery of Broader Measures of Unemployment

Remaining Elevation as of December 2014

Percent Increase to Great Recession Peak

Percent Recovered

Overall Unemployment Rate (UR)

6

90

93

U-4 (Unemployed + Discouraged)

8

92

91

U-5 (U-4 + Other Marginally Attached)

11

84

87

U-6 (U-5 + Part Time for Economic Reasons)

23

87

74

Short-Term (26 Weeks or Fewer) UR

64

-10

Long-Term (27 Weeks or More) UR

116

73

-50

326

0

50

100

150

200

250

300

78

350

Percent Change in Indicator Relative to 2001-07 Average
Note: All rates are expressed as a percent of the labor force and are seasonally adjusted.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

yet complete. Important differences remain in the progress of the recovery
across measures, however, including the continued elevation of long-term
unemployment.
Relative to many other advanced economies, the United States
experienced a large increase in unemployment during the crisis and yet
has also had the strongest recovery since the peak of the crisis, as shown in
Figure 3-3. Between the first quarter of 2008 and the final quarter of 2009,
U.S. unemployment rose from 5.0 percent to 9.9 percent. Over the same
period, unemployment in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries (excluding the United States) increased
from an average of 5.1 percent to 7.8 percent.3 Unemployment in the euro
area over this period rose from 6.1 percent to 9.3 percent.
The most significant differences have emerged since early 2010. U.S.
unemployment steadily declined and was down to 5.7 percent by the third
quarter of 2014, over 40 percent below its recession maximum. In contrast,
average unemployment in both the non-U.S. OECD and euro area has made
3 CEA weighted OECD and euro area countries by GDP (in millions of USD), so that countries
with larger economies received more weight than smaller countries. The United States is
excluded from the OECD weighted average. Accordingly, these figures differ from OECD’s
published unweighted average unemployment rate across OECD countries.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  107

Box 3-1: Unemployment Across Gender, Race, and
Ethnicity Groups: The Situation for Men of Color
Men of color have much higher rates of unemployment than do
White men. For example, in December 2014, adult African-American
men had an unemployment rate of 11.0 percent—6.6 percentage points
higher than that of adult White men. Among adult Hispanic men, the
unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in December 2014, 0.9 percentage
point higher than that of adult White men. Racial gaps in unemploy‑
ment have narrowed over time, but less progress has been made among
African-American men, for whom the gap in the unemployment rate
relative to Whites has fallen the least.
Figure 3-i
Labor Force Participation Rate Gap Between African-American
and White Youth by Gender: Ages 16 to 24, 1973–2014

Gap in Percentage Points
18

Young Men

16

Dec-2014

14
12
10
8

Young Women

6
4
2
0
1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Data are differences between the 12-month moving averages of the non-seasonally adjusted labor
force participation rates of African-American and White youth ages 16-24.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

In addition to higher unemployment rates, there are also differ‑
ences in labor force participation, which mean that men of color often
have even lower rates of employment than the unemployment rates
alone would suggest. The gap in participation is especially problematic
among young men, since early-life labor market experiences have
significant impacts on later-life labor market success (Edelman, Holzer
and Offner 2006; Raaum and Roed 2006).1 The labor force participation
rates of young White and African-American women have begun to
converge since the 1990s, while convergence among young men largely
1 The literature finds persistent and significant impacts of post-graduation labor market
conditions and opportunities on later-in-life wages and employment.

108  |  Chapter 3

stalled until the late 2000s. In December 2014, young African-American
women’s participation was 5 percentage points lower than young White
women’s, while young African-American men’s participation was 9
percentage points lower than young White men’s.
To speed U.S. progress in closing the racial disparities in labor
market outcomes, the Administration has made tackling unemployment
among minority men a priority under the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.
The initiative supports the education and employment of AfricanAmerican, Hispanic and Native American men, all of whom experience
elevated unemployment and lower participation relative to men in other
racial groups.

little progress. Unemployment across the OECD, excluding the United
States, is, on average, roughly unchanged from its peak. As of the fourth
quarter of 2013, the average unemployment rate across non-U.S. OECD
countries was 7.6 percent. Unemployment across euro zone countries fared
worse, with a decline in unemployment in 2010, followed by a sharp increase
between 2011 and mid-2013. These international averages naturally abstract
from varied experiences among OECD countries: Germany’s unemploy‑
ment rate fell between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010,
while Spain’s unemployment rate more than doubled. Nonetheless, the

Percent
12

10
8
6

Figure 3-3
Unemployment in Non-U.S. OECD, Euro Area,
and United States, 2000–2013

Euro Area
(Weighted)

United States

2013:Q4

Non-U.S. OECD
(Weighted)

4
2
0
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
2010
2012
Note: OECD (excluding the United States) and euro area averages are weighted by member
countries' GDP.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Harmonized
Unemployment Rate and GDP series; CEA calculations.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  109

recovery in the U.S. unemployment rate compares favorably against the
general experience of other advanced economies.
Behind the improvement in U.S. unemployment is a historic record
of steady job growth, albeit one that follows historic job losses. As described
in Chapter 2, total employment increased by 3.1 million jobs in 2014—the
strongest year of the recovery—and average monthly job growth was
260,000, as shown in Figure 3-4. The private sector has added jobs for 58
consecutive months through December 2014, the longest period of con‑
tinual job growth on record.
In 2014, private-sector employment growth was particularly strong
in industries that traditionally provide good, middle-class jobs, such as con‑
struction and professional and business services. Since February 2010, more
than 850,000 manufacturing jobs have been added, an increase of 7 percent.
The average workweek for production and non-supervisory workers in
manufacturing has also increased to near its highest level since World War
II. Over the same period, 2.9 million jobs have been added in professional
and business services, an 18 percent increase.
The labor market recovery has been generally shared across the full
spectrum of American workers. Table 3-1 shows that looking across the
Figure 3-4
Average Monthly Job Growth by Year, 2007–2014

Average Monthly Job Gain/Loss, Thousands
400
300
200
100

173
95

188

199

2011

2012

2013

260

89

0
-100
-200
-300

-298

-400
-500

2007

2008

-424

2009

2010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics.

110  |  Chapter 3

1900

2014

Table 3-1
Tracking the Recovery Across Race, Gender, Age, and
Level of Educational Attainment
Remaining
Elevation
as of
December
2014
(Percent)

Percent
Recovered

6

93

PreRecession
Average

Percent
Increase
to Great
Recession Peak

Overall Unemployment Rate (UR)

5.3

90

Male UR
Female UR

5.4
5.2

106
74

8
3

93
96

White UR
African-American UR
Hispanic UR
Asian UR

4.6
9.8
6.5
4.5

99
72
99
72

4
6
0
9

96
91
100
87

Less than High School UR
High School Graduates UR
Some College UR

7.9
4.8
4.1

100
127
117

9
9
20

91
93
83

Age 16-24 UR
Age 25-54 UR

11.4
4.3

71
108

8
8

88
92

College Graduates UR

2.5

99

15

Note: Asian unemployment rate is a 12-month moving average of not seasonally adjusted data.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

85

population by racial, gender, and educational differences, most groups are
at least 90 percent recovered, and those that have not reached that point are
close to it.
The 1.2 percentage-point fall in the annual unemployment rate in
2014 was the largest such drop since 1984, and some groups experienced
even larger declines in unemployment. Both the Hispanic and AfricanAmerican annual unemployment rates fell by 1.7 percentage point in 2014,
one of the largest declines in series history. As of December 2014, the
African-American unemployment rate had recovered 91 percent of the way
back to its pre-recession average, compared to 100 percent for Hispanics, 87
percent for Asians, and 96 percent for White workers.
The labor market gained strength in 2014, and numerous indicators
illustrate that the recovery is robust. Now that much of the direct challenges
of the recession are behind us, the United States must turn its attention to
ensuring that the benefits of the recovery are widespread, benefiting more
Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  111

middle-class families. This requires addressing five longer-run challenges in
the labor market. The following sections discuss each of these challenges in
greater detail.

Labor Force Participation
The decline in the unemployment rate in the economic recovery has
been driven by the increased pace of job creation. In addition to the decline
in the traditional unemployment rate, a broader measure that also includes
discouraged workers and people who would like to work if a job were avail‑
able (U-5) has come down from a high of 11.4 percent in October 2009 to 6.9
percent in December 2014, or 87 percent of the way back to its pre-recession
average.
At the same time, the economy has continued to go through a sub‑
stantial change in labor force participation. Since peaking in the first quarter
of 2000 at 67.3 percent, the labor force participation rate declined to 62.8 in
the fourth quarter of 2014. A large portion of this decline is explained by the
lower participation rates of an aging labor force and, in spite of continued
demographic pressures in this direction, the participation rate has held
steady since October 2013. This suggests that a stronger labor market is
bringing people back into the labor force, partially off-setting the increasing
size of the retirement-age population. Nevertheless, the participation rate is
unlikely to return to its peak rate in the near future. This section examines
the role of the aging baby boomers in driving declining participation, as well
as the lesser but important roles of a decades-long downward trend in male
labor force participation and a more recent slight trend decline in female
labor force participation discussed in Chapter 1.

A Longer-Term Perspective on Labor Force Participation
The labor force participation rate, defined as the share of the
population ages 16 and older who are working, or who are actively seeking
employment, is an important measure of labor market potential and health.
Labor force nonparticipation is not always a source of concern—many nonparticipators are seniors enjoying their retirements, young people investing
in education, or parents caring for their children. However, low labor force
participation—particularly among people of prime working age (ages 25
through 54) — is evidence that we can do more to create job prospects and
support workers. Moreover, low labor force participation may mean that,
even when good economic times return, mobilizing the pool of available
workers will take more time.

112  |  Chapter 3

Box 3-2: Changes in Labor Force Participation
for Different Subpopulations
Overall, the most important factor affecting the aggregate partici‑
pation rate in the recession and recovery has been the aging of the popu‑
lation. But there are a number of important trends and developments
relevant for understanding the changes in participation of different
subgroups of the population:
•	 Increased participation by older Americans, which may be
attributable to an increase in skills among this population and also to
changes in Social Security retirement benefits;
•	 Reduced participation by younger Americans as they stay in
school longer;
•	 Continuation of an at least 65-year long trend of declining male
labor force participation, which is especially stark for young minority
men; and
•	 Tapering of the long-term trend of increasing female labor force
participation, which dates back to before World War II.
All told, these different trends and factors roughly offset each
other, but they are important for understanding these groups and for
informing policy choices.
Table 3-i
Labor Force Participation Rate by Selected Groups
All
Men
Women
Age 16-24
Age 25-54
Age 55+
White*
Black*
Hispanic*

2014:Q4
62.8
69.1
56.9
55.5
80.8
40.0
62.9
61.4
66.2

Average Change Per Year (Percentage Points)
1948*-1990
1990-2007
2007-2014
0.2
0.0
-0.5
-0.2
-0.2
-0.6
0.6
0.1
-0.3
0.2
-0.5
-0.6
0.4
0.0
-0.3
-0.3
0.5
0.2
0.2
0.0
-0.5
0.2
0.0
-0.4
0.4
0.1
-0.4

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations. Not all groups have
information starting in 1948, for those groups (marked with a star), the 1948-1990 change is from the
first year for which data is available.

Taking a longer view, as in Figure 3-5, the labor force participation
rate increased from 60.8 percent to 66.6 percent between 1973 and 1995. As
described in Chapter 1, this increase during the “Age of Participation” can
be entirely accounted for by increased participation among women: over this

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  113

Figure 3-5
Labor Force Participation by Gender, 1950–2014

Percent of Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16+
90

80

Dec-2014

Men

70
60

Overall

50
40
30
1950

Women
1960

1970

1980

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

1990

2000

2010

period, the female participation rate increased from 44.7 percent to 59.0 per‑
cent while the male participation rate fell from 78.8 percent to 75.0 percent.
Since 1995, however, the participation rate has fallen from 66.6 per‑
cent to 62.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, with 3.2 percentage points
of this decrease occurring since the fourth quarter of 2007. While some of
this time period coincides with the Great Recession, it also coincides with
the period when the eldest baby boomers entered their peak retirement
years; the first baby boomers turned 62 in 2008, becoming eligible for Social
Security. This demographic shift had been predicted to lower the participa‑
tion rate well in advance of the Great Recession (Aaronson et al. 2006).
Although population aging explains much of the decline in labor force
participation seen in recent years, longer-run trends, cyclical responses, and
other factors also affect participation. CEA evaluated these various factors
in its comprehensive report, The Labor Force Participation Rate Since 2007:
Causes and Policy Implications, summarized in this chapter. This analysis
finds that a combination of demographic changes and typical business-cycle
effects can explain most, but not all, of the decrease since 2007.

Decomposing the Decline in Participation Since 2007
The decline in labor force participation between the fourth quarter of
2007 and the fourth quarter of 2014 can be decomposed into three parts: an

114  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-6
Labor Force Participation Decomposition, 2009–2014

Percent of Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16+
66.0
65.5

Aging Trends

65.0
64.5
Actual

64.0

Cyclical Effects

63.5

Residual

63.0
62.5
2009

2014:Q4
2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Note: Year axis denotes first quarter of year noted. See text for methodological details.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

aging population, the economic downturn, and a residual that is attribut‑
able to other factors. Figure 3-6 shows the decomposition of this decline
over time based on CEA modeling. By the close of 2014, the participation
rate was down 3.2 percentage points since the end of 2007. Of this, CEA
analysis attributes 1.7 points to long-run aging trends, and 0.5 point to
poor business-cycle conditions. The remaining 0.9 point is not due to either
standard business cycle or aging trends.4 This residual component emerged
in 2012 and grew over the subsequent few years.
CEA’s finding that aging trends explain more than one-half of the
decline in labor force participation over the course of the recession and
recovery is consistent with a wide range of studies that have used a variety
of methodological approaches to better understand the impact of various
factors on the participation rate. These studies, summarized in Table 3-2,
show that research finds that long-term trends such as aging account for
between 25 and 82 percent of the participation decline over the recession.
These findings are not directly comparable, as the time periods they study
differ. Consequently, CEA’s model is estimated over the same time period
as each of these studies, with the results presented in the final two columns
of Table 3-2. CEA’s model finds an aging effect that is between 39 and 55
percent of the decline depending on the time period being analyzed. CEA’s
4 The three components do not sum to the whole due to rounding.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  115

Table 3-2
Comparison of Participation Rate Estimates

Time Period

Shares of the
Total Decline
Trend

Cycle

CEA (2014c)

2007:Q4 – 2014:Q4

55%

17%

Beginning in 2007
CBO (2014)
S. Aaronson et al. (2014)
D. Aaronson et al. (2014)
Erceg and Levin (2013)
Fallick and Pingle (2013)
Kudlyak (2013)
Shierholz (2012)
Van Zandweghe (2012)
Aaronson et al. (2006)

2007:Q4 – 2013:Q4
2007:Q4 – 2014:Q2
2007: Q4 – 2014:Q3
2007-2012
2007:Q4 – 2013:Q2
2007-2012
2007-2011
2007-2011
2007-2013

50%
82%
74%
17%
75%
80%
31%
42%
82%

Other time periods
CEA (2014)
Fujita (2014)
Aaronson, Davis and Hu (2012)

2011:Q1 – 2014:Q4
2000:Q1 – 2013:Q4
2000-2011

77%
65%
40%

CEA
Estimated
Shares Over
Same Time
Period

Source: Cited studies; CEA calculations.

Trend

Cycle

33%
11%
13%
55%
16%
20%
-58%
--

48%
51%
54%
55%
53%
55%
49%
49%
48%

25%
21%
19%
42%
35%
42%
59%
59%
25%

-39%
30%
--

39%
43%

19%
43%

estimate of the aging effects accounting for slightly more than one-half of
the decline between 2007 and the end of 2014 is therefore roughly in the
mid-range of the literature.
The variation across estimates of the cyclical component in the final
column shows that different magnitudes of this component in the literature
are largely driven by the time period of analysis, not variation in analytical
methods. Comparing estimates from the literature to those from the CEA
model in the same time period, the CEA estimate of the cyclical effect is
roughly in the middle of the estimates. The roles of each factor in explaining
the overall change in participation are addressed below.
Aging Population
Lower participation among baby boomers as they aged had been
depressing the participation rate well before 2008, since participation begins
to fall when workers reach their mid-50s. Both men and women decrease
their participation by around 40 percentage points between ages 55 and 65
and participate at even lower rates thereafter. CEA concludes that the aging
population is the single most important factor depressing the participation
rate, accounting for 1.7 of the 3.2 percentage point decline, or more than
116  |  Chapter 3

Percentage Points
1.2
0.9
0.6

Figure 3-7
Detrended Participation Rate and
(Inverted) Unemployment Gap, 1960–2014

Percentage Points

2014:Q4

Participation
Rate
(left axis)

-4
-2

0.3

0

0.0
-0.3

Unemployment
Gap
(right axis)

-0.6

2
4

-0.9
-1.2
1960

-6

1970

1980

1990

2000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

6

one-half of the decline, since the end of 2007. This finding is robust to dif‑
ferent methods of modeling the effect of aging on participation, as described
in more detail in The Labor Force Participation Rate Since 2007: Causes and
Policy Implications (CEA 2014c). The effect of aging has also been growing
in magnitude in recent years. The youngest baby boomers will not turn 65
until 2029, so aging will continue to depress labor force participation in
coming years.
Business-Cycle Effects
Economic contractions historically result in both greater unemploy‑
ment and lower labor force participation (Elsby, Hobijn, and Sahin 2010).
Therefore, while movements in the participation rate over decades are
driven largely by the long-term trends, in the short- and medium term,
cyclical factors play a role.
Figure 3-7 shows the cyclicality of the participation rate by comparing
the detrended participation rate and the (inverted) detrended unemploy‑
ment gap, defined as the difference between the unemployment rate and
CBO’s estimate of the natural rate of unemployment.5 For example, the
detrended participation rate declined in the 1990s expansion and rose
during the Great Recession. Visual inspection further suggests that move‑
5 Detrending was performed using the methods described in CEA (2014c). A trend component
of each series was estimated using a semiparametric procedure. The trend components are then
subtracted from the original data series to produce the series shown in Figure 3-7.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  117

Box 3-3: Post-Recession Participation in the
United States and United Kingdom
In late 2014, the U.S. and U.K. economies exhibited some striking
similarities. The two countries’ year-end unemployment rates were
nearly identical, at 5.6 percent in the United States in December versus
5.8 percent in the United Kingdom as of the three months ending in
November. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund predicted in
October that the United Kingdom and the United States would see the
fastest year-ahead GDP growth among G-7 economies, although output
in the United States currently exceeds its pre-crisis peak by a substan‑
tially wider margin than in the United Kingdom.
However, some elements of the labor market have followed very
different paths in the two economies. The United Kingdom has seen
overall labor force participation hold roughly steady since 2007, despite
the fact that the demographically adjusted participation series for the
United Kingdom show a downtrend similar to that for the United States
(Carney 2014). Yet more than a quarter of the increase in employment in
the United Kingdom has been in part-time work, whereas all of the jobs
added back in the United States have been full-time. And while average
wages in the United States have been roughly keeping pace with inflation,
U.K. workers have seen large declines in real earnings (Figure 3-iii). The
average weekly inflation-adjusted paycheck for British private-sector
workers is now more than 8 percent below its 2007 average. In short, the

118  |  Chapter 3

United Kingdom experienced stable labor force participation at the same
time that many jobs offered fewer work hours and lower pay.
To explain this set of circumstances, Bank of England Governor
Mark Carney (2014) has argued that the United Kingdom experienced a
labor supply surge in the wake of the crisis, with about 1.5 million people
joining the U.K. labor force. Carney suggested this was likely fueled by a
number of factors, including the need for households to rebuild savings
or pay down debt in the wake of the financial crisis, as well as policy
changes that have raised the retirement age for public-sector workers
and introduced more stringent job-search requirements for some welfare
recipients. The U.K. government has also undertaken efforts to improve
job search assistance for unemployed workers, potentially facilitating
faster matches of workers and positions.
Ultimately, the differences between the United States and United
Kingdom on key labor market variables are a puzzle that is not yet fully
understood. To an extent, some of the factors that have affected the
United States and United Kingdom are similar—for instance a high
number of indebted households. It is clear that both the United States
and the United Kingdom face the challenge of facilitating transitions
for workers currently employed in lower-wage and -hour jobs to jobs
offering higher wages and more full-time work. Nevertheless, these dif‑
ferent experiences are also a reminder of the many possible paths from
recession to recovery.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  119

ments in the participation rate lag movements in the unemployment rate by
perhaps a year or so. CEA estimates that business-cycle effects explain 0.5
percentage point (about one-sixth) of the total decline in labor force partici‑
pation between the end of 2007 and the end of 2014.6
As the labor market continues to recover, business cycle effects should
wane. For example, cyclical factors depressed the participation rate by 1.1
percentage point in 2011 when the unemployment rate was about 9 percent,
but by the fourth quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.7
percent and cyclical factors had shrunk to 0.5 percentage point.
Other Factors
While most of the decline in the participation rate since the end of
2007 is due to the combination of the aging population and standard cycli‑
cal effects, 0.9 percentage point, or a little over one-quarter, of the decline
is not fully understood. CEA’s analysis finds that this portion of the decline
is not explained by either the aging of the population or the normal cycli‑
cal impact of the current recession. Between 2007 and 2012 the decline in
participation is fully (and at some points more than fully) explained by the
aging of the population and standard business-cycle effects. Beginning in
2012, however, the labor force participation rate decline began to exceed
what was predicted from aging and cyclical factors. Since late 2013, the labor
force participation rate has stabilized and the portion of the decline that was
unexplained shrank, albeit slowly, between the second and fourth quarters
of 2014 (Figure 3-6).
One driver of this unexplained component may be long-term trends
within age groups. There was a general downward trend in participation
rates prior to 2007, even after conditioning on age. In the case of prime-age
men, the decline dates back to at least 1950; as noted in Chapter 1, primeage male participation declined 0.1 percentage point a year between 1948
and 1973 and then 0.2 percentage point a year since 1973. More recently,
prime-age female participation has declined at 0.1 percentage point a year
on average since 1995. Because of these general trends toward lower partici‑
pation, pre-recession models predicted a decline in participation over this
period—greater than what would be predicted based on aging alone—even
with the assumption of no major recession (Aaronson et al. 2006).
A second set of explanations is that the unexplained portion reflects
the very severe nature of the Great Recession, which led to a greater-thannormal cyclical relationship between unemployment and participation.
6 CEA uses the unemployment gap as a measure of the state of the business cycle. CEA
regresses the quarter-on-quarter difference in the detrended labor force participation rate on
the contemporaneous year-over-year difference in the detrended unemployment gap, along
with a one-year lag and a two-year lag.

120  |  Chapter 3

CEA’s model assumes that the relationship between the unemployment
rate and the labor force participation rate remained the same as in earlier,
shallower recessions. However, the particularly long average duration of
unemployment in the last recession might discourage participation even
more. Adding unemployment duration to the model explains a part of the
previously unexplained portion. Thus, the model suggests that a recession
that leads to greater long-term unemployment leads to greater declines in
labor force participation, conditional on the unemployment rate.
CEA’s analysis finds no unusual rise in disability insurance in
response to the recession—in fact, disability insurance rose less than would
be predicted based on the severity of the recession—so this does not account
for the unexplained decline in participation. The rise in schooling also does
not account for the unexplained portion. Overall, it is likely that a combina‑
tion of factors, including both non-aging trends and factors unique to the
Great Recession, played a role in the participation-rate decline.

Outlook for the Participation Rate
While the evolution of the participation rate is subject to uncertainty,
it is unlikely that the trend of decreasing labor force participation will
reverse in the medium-term without policy changes. As of the fourth quarter
of 2014, the cyclical effect depressed the labor force participation rate by 0.5
percentage point. In the short-run, as the economy fully recovers from the
Great Recession, the cyclical component should dissipate, adding this 0.5
percentage point to the participation rate. At the same time, however, as
more baby boomers retire, the aging population will depress the participa‑
tion rate by roughly an additional 0.25 percentage point each year. The size
of this aging effect is projected to grow gradually from 0.24 percentage point
in 2015 to 0.27 percentage point in 2022, at which point the magnitude of the
effect is expected to start receding. That older workers are able to retire is in
many ways a positive development. But it also creates challenges, especially
for overall fiscal policy and, in particular, for programs like Social Security
and Medicare.
The unexplained component of the participation decline is subject
to greater uncertainty. To the extent that the decline represents trends that
pre-date the Great Recession, it could persist. However, if the unexplained
portion primarily reflects temporary factors related to the Great Recession,
as the economy recovers, the participation rate may increase more than what
cyclical factors alone predict. However, under a range of feasible scenarios,
it is likely the labor force participation rate will continue to decline in the
medium-term.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  121

Long-Term Unemployment
In 2014, not only did the annual unemployment rate fall by more
than any year since 1984, but also most of the decline came from a decrease
in long-term unemployment. The long-term unemployed, defined as those
unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, accounted for 37 percent of the unem‑
ployed population as of December 2013. Nearly two-thirds of the 2014
decrease in unemployment resulted from a decrease in long-term unem‑
ployment, and by December 2014 they were 32 percent of the unemployed
(Figure 3-8).
Broader measures of unemployment also fell slightly faster than the
overall unemployment rate in 2014, while labor force participation was
largely stable, suggesting that this reduction in long-term unemployment
reflects workers finding employment rather than leaving the workforce
or becoming discouraged. While this constitutes important progress, the
long-term unemployment rate remains elevated relative to its pre-recession
average.

Percent
90

Figure 3-8
Share of Recovery in Overall Unemployment Rate Due to
Declines in Short- and Long-Term Unemployment
Short-Term Unemployment (26 Weeks or Fewer)
Long-Term Unemployment (27 Weeks or More)

80
70

64

64

60
50

40

36

36

30
20
10
0

From Oct-2009 to Dec-2013

From Dec-2013 to Dec-2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

122  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-9
Unemployment Rate by Duration, 2000–2014

Percent of Labor Force
8
7
6

Unemployed 26
Weeks or Fewer

5

Dec-2014

4

3

Unemployed 27
Weeks or More

2
1

0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Shading denotes recession. Dashed lines represent pre-Great Recession (December 2001December 2007) averages.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

Trends in Long-Term Unemployment
In the previous expansion, the short-term unemployment rate (work‑
ers unemployed for less than 27 weeks) averaged 4.2 percent of the labor
force while the long-term unemployment rate averaged 1.0 percent. Both
types of unemployment increased in the recession, with a markedly larger
surge in long-term unemployment, as shown in Figure 3-9. Both have since
substantially recovered, and Figure 3-9 shows that as of December 2014
the short-term unemployment rate was below its pre-recession average,
although the long-term unemployment rate remained elevated. However, as
discussed earlier, the long-term unemployment rate recovered more relative
to the short-term unemployment rate in 2014.
The Great Recession saw a larger than typical increase in both the
number and the share of the long-term unemployed. The number of longterm unemployed rose from 1.3 million at the end of 2007 to 6.8 million in
April 2010, or 46 percent of all unemployed workers. By December 2014,
however, this number had fallen to 2.8 million workers, or 32 percent of
unemployed workers. By comparison, between 1948 and 2001, workers
unemployed for at least 27 weeks accounted for about 12 percent of unem‑
ployed workers on average with a previous peak share of 26 percent in June
1983. The share of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed of
longer durations also rose sharply in the recession, as shown in Figure 3-10.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  123

Figure 3-10
Share of Unemployed Workers by Duration of
Unemployment, 2002–2014

Percent of Unemployed
50

27 Weeks or More

45
40
35

Dec-2014

52 Weeks or More

30
25
20

99 Weeks or More

15
10
5
0
2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Calculations are a 12-month moving average of the share of unemployed by duration as a
share of the overall unemployed population.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

That figure also shows that even among the long-term unemployed, there
have been greater improvements for those more recently unemployed.
This rise in the prevalence and severity of long-term unemployment
in the Great Recession may in part be a continuation of longer-term trends
in the cyclical pattern of long-term unemployment. Compared to recessions
in earlier decades, the past several recessions have seen sharper increases in
the share of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed as the unem‑
ployment rate climbs, as shown in Figure 3-11.
Moreover, aside from changes during business cycles, there appears to
have been a secular increase in the long-term share of the unemployed for
decades before the crisis occurred.7 Figure 3-12 shows a gradual increase
in the share long-term unemployed since 1948, when the data are first
available.8 The estimates suggest that, between 1948 and 2007, the share of
the unemployed out of work for 27 weeks or more increased by about 0.2
percentage point a year on average.
If the share of unemployment that is long term returns to trend
at the end of 2016, it would be about 20 percent, well above its October
2006 trough of 16 percent. However, recent cycles suggest that the longterm upward trend may be increasing even during expansionary periods.
7 Also reported in Aaronson, Mazumder and Schechter (2010).
8 The linear time trend is not adjusted for business cycles.

124  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-11
Increase in Long-Term Unemployment as a Percent of Increase in
Overall Unemployment Rate

Percent
60

56
49

50

39

40
30

26

20

11

10
0

46

1948

32
19

16

1953

12

1957

1960 1969 1973 1980
Recession Start Year

1990

2001

2007

Note: Increases are measured from the first month of the recession to the peak in the overall
unemployment rate. The 1980s recessions are consolidated into a single cycle.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

Figure 3-12
Long-term Unemployed as Share of Total Unemployed, 1960–2014

Percent
50

Dec-2014

45
40
35
30
25

Actual

20
15

Linear Time
Trend

10
5
0
1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

Note: Time trend projection is based on data from 1948 through 2007.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  125

Moreover, during the Great Recession, long-term unemployment increased
even more than would have been expected from the historical relationship
(Aaronson, Mazumder, and Schechter 2010), suggesting that while long-run
trends have contributed to higher rates of long-term unemployment, other
factors may contribute to a more persistent increase.

Factors behind Elevated Rates of Long-Term Unemployment
The likelihood of finding new employment falls as an unemployment
spell extends, as shown in Figure 3-13. During the Great Recession, the
long-term unemployed were 20 to 40 percent less likely than the short-term
unemployed to obtain employment within two years (Krueger, Cramer, and
Cho 2014). In addition, audit studies show that callback rates from prospec‑
tive employers decline with the length of unemployment (Kroft, Lange, and
Notowidigdo 2013; Ghayad 2013).
The literature offers potential explanations for why the long-term
unemployed are less likely to find employment than the short-term unem‑
ployed. One explanation, “worker heterogeneity,” argues that the long-term
unemployed are different from the short-term unemployed in ways that
make them less attractive to employers, which extends how long they must
search to land a new job (Pries 2008). However, this is less likely to be true
following a deep recession. Moreover, research by Krueger, Cramer, and
Cho (2014) and Mitchell (2013) find that the long-term unemployed resem‑
ble the short-term unemployed on many dimensions. Kroft et al. (2014)
and Aaronson, Mazumder, and Schechter (2010) reach similar conclusions,
and show that rates of long-term unemployment increased for nearly all
demographic, occupation, industry, and regional groups during the Great
Recession.
This research suggests that another explanation for why the long-term
unemployed are less likely to be hired is more relevant to our recovery:
that becoming long-term unemployed itself makes it harder to escape from
unemployment. Employers may interpret a spell of long-term unemploy‑
ment as a negative signal of a worker’s ability because of stigma (Blanchard
and Diamond 1994; Kroft, Lange, and Notowidigdo 2013). Additionally,
employers’ hiring processes may lead to discrimination against the longterm unemployed by, for example, screening out all workers with a long
spell of unemployment regardless of their other qualifications (Ghayad
2013). Research has shown that the long-term unemployed conditional on
all other characteristics remaining the same are less likely to get called for
interviews (Kroft, Lange, and Notowidigdo 2013). Another explanation is
that as people remain out of work for extended periods of time, their general
and job-specific skills or connections to industry may deteriorate (Edin and
126  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-13
Monthly Job Finding Rates by Duration of
Unemployment in Previous Month, December 2014

Probability of Reemployment, Percent
35
33
30
25

22

20

17

15

15

10

8

5
0

Less than 5
Weeks

5-14 Weeks

15-26 Weeks

27-52 Weeks

53+ Weeks

Note: Seasonally-adjusted data as of December 2014. Data refer to the probability of reemployment in
December 2014 based on duration of unemployment in November 2014.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

Gustavsson 2005; Autor et al. 2015). These explanations are not mutually
exclusive, and both could affect the likelihood of transitioning from unem‑
ployment to employment (Jackman and Layard 1991).
Pre-recession patterns in the rate of transition from long-term unem‑
ployment to employment, controlling for duration of unemployment, do a
good job predicting these transitions during this recovery (Kroft et al. 2014).
This implies that, despite the much larger, more diverse pool of long-term
unemployed as compared with past recessions or even non-recessionary
periods, transitions from long-term unemployment back to employment
are not any faster. Unemployment duration appears to be more important
than worker characteristics in determining the transition back to employ‑
ment. However, the long-term unemployed were more likely during the
recession and recovery to stay in the labor market than past transition rates
from long-term unemployed to out of the labor force would have predicted.9
Some research suggests that the extensions of unemployment insurance
encouraged the long-term unemployed to continue looking for work and
reduced the likelihood that they exited the labor force (Krueger, Cramer,
9 Specifically, Kroft et al. (2014) show that the transition probability from unemployment to
non-employment fell markedly over the recession and began to recover around 2010. Their
transition probabilities are constructed from a series in which monthly flows are harmonized
to stocks for the employed, unemployed, and non-participants.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  127

and Cho 2014; Aaronson, Mazumder, and Schechter 2010; Kroft et al. 2014;
Rothstein 2011).

Why Long-term Unemployment Matters
Higher levels of long-term unemployment are concerning because
they place greater strain on household resources and sometimes necessitate
drastic changes in household behavior, such as selling a home or postpon‑
ing medical care, which can have disruptive impacts on family members,
the wider community, and the economy. Long-term earnings loss after
resuming work also appears to increase with the duration of unemploy‑
ment (Schmieder, von Wachter, and Bender 2013; Addison and Portugal
1989). Moreover, it does not appear that these earnings losses are unique
to experiencing unemployment during an economic expansion or recovery,
nor are they concentrated in the manufacturing or service sector (Couch
and Placzek 2010). Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has
said that long-term unemployment “imposes economic costs on everyone,
not just the unemployed themselves,” as their loss of skills and lower rates
of employment reduce the economy’s overall productive capacity (Bernanke
2012).

Part-Time Work for Economic Reasons
Part-time employment tends to grow in recessions as some businesses
hold on to workers by cutting their hours, and those businesses continuing to
hire may need only part-time hours from new workers. Between December
2007 and December 2009, the share of the labor force usually working parttime rose from 16.1 percent to 17.9 percent. This increase was driven by
a large rise in people working part-time for economic reasons, defined as
employees who would prefer to have full-time work but either cannot find
a full-time job or have a job that does not provide full-time hours (even if it
once did). As the economy has recovered, the share of the labor force that
is part-time has begun to recede as all the growth in employment has been
driven by growth in full-time employment, as Figure 3-14 shows. Five years
into the recovery, more than 9 million more people are working full-time,
while the number of people employed in part-time jobs has been largely
unchanged. Moreover, part-time jobs have been increasingly held by those
who say they do not want to work full-time.
Rates of part-time employment for economic reasons doubled dur‑
ing the recession from 3 percent to 6 percent, exceeding the previous peak

128  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-14
Net Change in Employment Since January 2010,
Household Survey Estimates

Millions of Workers
10

Dec-2014

9
8
7

Full-Time

6
5
4
3

2
Part-Time

1
0
-1
-2

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

reached in 1982, as shown in Figure 3-15.10 The share of the labor force
working part-time for economic reasons has since fallen, and the pace of the
decline in this share picked up during 2014, declining 0.7 percentage point
over the 12 months ending in December 2014. The rate is 4.3 percent as of
December 2014, 54 percent of the way back to its pre-recession average, with
over one-third of this overall progress occurring in 2014.

Patterns in Part-Time For Economic Reasons
As a general rule, the share of workers who are part-time but would
prefer full-time work rises in a downturn and then trends slowly back down
during the recovery and boom. As Figure 3-15 shows, in a typical business
cycle rates of part-time employment rise and these jobs go disproportion‑
ately to those who would prefer full-time work, with rates of part-time work
10 Care must be taken when comparing the share of workers who are part-time for economic
reasons before and after the 1994 redesign of the Current Population Survey. CEA used the
multiplicative adjustment factors reported by Polivka and Miller (1998) in order to place the
pre-1994 estimates of the part-time for economic reasons rate on a comparable basis with postredesign estimates. For the part-time series for which Polikva and Miller do not report suitable
adjustment factors, the pre- and post-redesign series were spliced by multiplying the pre-1994
estimates by the ratio of the January 1994 rate to the December 1993 rate. This procedure
generates similar results to the Polikva and Miller factors for series for which multiplicative
factors are available.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  129

Figure 3-15
Rates of Part-Time Work, 1960–2014

Percent of Labor Force
20
18

Dec-2014

Total Part-Time

16
14
Part-Time for NonEconomic Reasons

12
10
8

Part-Time for
Economic Reasons

6
4
2
0
1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: Shading denotes recession. See footnote 10 for details on comparability over time.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; Polivka and Miller (1998); CEA
calculations.

for other reasons declining. This shift likely reflects several factors: firms
finding it easier to hire highly qualified workers for part-time jobs since
fewer full-time jobs are available, and therefore hiring more people for parttime work who would prefer full-time work; firms cutting hours of full-time
employees who are unable to find full-time work elsewhere; and workers in
part-time jobs increasing their preferences for full-time work as household
income falls (Bednarzik 1975; Bednarzik 1983; Maloney 1987).
Figure 3-15 also shows that, following some recessions, the rate did
not fully recover to its prerecession low before rising again. This is partially a
result of the fact that the relationship between unemployment and part-time
for economic reasons has varied across recessions and may also be due partly
due to differences in the length of the recovery period. Figure 3-16 reports
the change in the share of the labor force working part-time for economic
reasons relative to the change in the unemployment rate during contractions
and expansions over the last five decades. Like the current cycle, both the
1980s recessions and the 2001 recession saw above-average increases in parttime employment for economic reasons for a given percentage point rise in
the unemployment rate, but did not see commensurately rapid declines as
the unemployment rate declined in the ensuing expansion.
Figure 3-17 uses the relationship between part-time employment for
economic reasons and unemployment from prior recessions and the path
of unemployment during the current business cycle to predict the path of
130  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-16
Change in Share Part-Time for Economic Reasons Per
Percentage-Point Change in the Unemployment Rate, 1957–2014

Ratio
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4

0.47
0.41

0.47

0.32

0.36
0.29

0.17

0.13

0.1
1957

1960

1969

0.40

0.35 0.36

0.21

0.2

0.65

Expansion
0.57

0.45

0.3

0.0

Contraction

0.61

1973
1980
Business Cycle

1990

2001

2007

Note: The 1980s recessions are consolidated into a single cycle. The expansion period runs through 22
quarters or until the next peak, whichever is earlier.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; Polivka and Miller (1998); CEA
calculations.

part-time employment for economic reasons. Consistent with the patterns
described in the last paragraph, predictions based on the 1980s recessions
and the 2001 recession generate a path similar to that observed during
the current business cycle: a relatively sharp initial increase, followed by a
recovery that, while steady, does not match the pace of the initial increase
and, thus, leaves part-time employment for economic reasons elevated.
Modeling the path in this recession using relationships from other post-1957
recessions generates a much smaller initial increase but a broadly similar
pace of recovery.
Figures 3-16 and 3-17 imply that the mystery of part-time employ‑
ment for economic reasons in the Great Recession (as well as of recessions
in the 1980s and 2001) is the sharper increase of such work during the con‑
traction, not a lack of full-time job creation during the recovery. Similarities
across the 1980s and 2001 recessions suggest that the behavior of part-time
employment for economic reasons in the 2007 recession may not be due to
factors unique to the Great Recession, like its depth or duration. Instead, it
may reflect longer-term changes in the cyclical sensitivity of this measure,
suggesting that this challenge may return in future recessions.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  131

Figure 3-17
Share Part-Time for Economic Reasons,
Actual and Predicted, 2005–2014

Percent of Labor Force
7
6

5

Actual

2014:Q4

4
3
2

Predicted Based
on 2001 Cycle
Predicted Based
on 1980s Cycles
Predicted Based
on Other Post1957 Cycles

1
0
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Note: The 1980s recessions are consolidated into a single cycle.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; Polivka and Miller (1998); CEA
calculations.

The Outlook for the Rate of Part-Time for Economic Reasons
The question arises of whether the share of employees who work
part-time for economic reasons will remain elevated over the long term. The
answer depends in large part on the reasons behind this elevation.
One possibility is that this type of part-time employment remains
elevated because it recovers later, even after the headline unemployment rate
has fully recovered. The view suggests that part-time workers who prefer
full-time work will accept more hours or a full-time job if it becomes avail‑
able, and therefore they represent a pool of available workers to businesses
wishing to expand employment. In this situation, a higher share of workers
who are part-time for economic reasons indicates that there is more slack
in the labor market than is suggested by a given unemployment rate. If this
interpretation describes our current labor market, and the robust labor mar‑
ket momentum seen over 2014 continues, then the rate of part-time work for
economic reasons should continue to decline in the years ahead, ultimately
returning to pre-recession levels assuming the economy remains strong for
long enough. Some evidence consistent with this scenario comes from the
rapid decline in this rate in recent months, even measured relative to the
increased pace of progress in reducing unemployment. Over 2014, the rate
of part-time work for economic reasons has declined by 0.5 percentage point
for each percentage-point reduction in the unemployment rate, whereas
132  |  Chapter 3

it declined, on average, by 0.3 percentage point for each percentage-point
reduction in the unemployment rate since the start of 2010. Furthermore,
experience from the late 1990s and mid-to-late 1960s provides historical
precedent: part-time employment for economic reasons rapidly decreased
relative to overall unemployment during these strong labor market periods.
On the other hand, another possibility is that recent recessions have
accelerated ongoing structural changes that cause employers to demand
more part-time workers relative to full-time workers. In this scenario, the
part-time for economic reasons rate may remain elevated even once the
unemployment rate has fully recovered, depending on the supply of parttime workers. The more rapid recovery in the goods sector relative to the
service sector may provide some evidence that employer demand for parttime workers in the service sector has shifted. To the extent that the overall
rate remains elevated mainly due to the incomplete recovery of the labor
market, that incomplete recovery might be expected to affect both sectors
similarly (Figure 3-18).
The timing of the shifts in part-time work also suggest that  the
Affordable Care Act’s employer responsibility provision, which requires
large employers to offer coverage to employees working 30 or more hours
per week or pay a penalty, is not playing a meaningful role in recent trends in
part-time work. First, both the share of the labor force working part-time and
the share in part-time jobs who would prefer to be in full-time jobs declined
more sharply in 2014 than in the earlier years of the recovery. In contrast,
if the Affordable Care Act’s employer responsibility provision was driving
a substantial structural increase in the demand for part-time workers, one
would, all else equal, have expected the opposite—that progress in reducing
part-time employment would have slowed over the months leading up to the
provision’s implementation in 2015. Second, the most striking way in which
the behavior of part-time employment, particularly among those who would
prefer full-time, in the most recent recession and recovery differs from prior
recessions is that it rose unusually sharply during the contraction, not that
it has fallen unusually slowly during the recovery, as discussed above. This
unusually sharp increase occurred essentially entirely before the Affordable
Care Act became law in  March 2010 and many years before employer
responsibility took effect, so it cannot have been caused by the Affordable
Care Act. Finally, as noted earlier, other recent recessions—most notably the
2001 recession and, to a lesser extent, the 1980s recession—also experienced
sharp rises in the rate of involuntarily part-time workers that were not fully
reversed by this point in the ensuing recovery, so the phenomenon may tell
us more about a structural shift in the economy in the last several decades.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  133

Figure 3-18
Share of Employees Working Part-Time for
Economic Reasons, by Industry, 1995–2014

Percent of Industry Employment
9
8
7

Dec-2014

6
5

Goods
Industries

4

Services
Industries

3
2
1
0
1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Data are 12-month moving averages of non-seasonally adjusted data. Shading denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

Labor Market Fluidity
Labor market fluidity (used interchangeably in this chapter with
“dynamism” or “churn”) refers broadly to the frequency of changes in who
is working for whom in the labor market. From the worker’s perspective,
this is measured by hires and separations; from the firm’s perspective, it
is measured by new positions (job creation) and eliminated positions (job
destruction). Although separations, hires, creation, destruction, and other
measures capture different concepts of fluidity, increases in these measures
generally indicate more fluidity.
A range of measures suggest that fluidity has risen in the labor market
recovery, as shown in Figure 3-19.11 The number of new workers hired has
steadily increased: there were 5.0 million workers hired into new positions in
November 2014, compared to 4.6 million in November of the previous year.
The hires rate was 3.6 percent in November, a number that has nearly fully
recovered to its rate of 3.7 percent in the month prior to the recession’s start.
11 The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (or LEHD) data are a restricted-access
data source compiled and maintained by the Census Bureau. The LEHD data are the result
of matching data across many sources—in particular, by matching household information
from the Census and American Community Surveys to state administrative Unemployment
Insurance system wage records and to employer data from economic censuses. For detail, see
Abowd et al. (2005). The job-to-job (or J2J) data are newly available data constructed from
the LEHD and published by Census. The J2J data provide information on the flows of workers
joining, leaving or changing employers under various circumstances (Hyatt et al. 2014).

134  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-19
Hires, Separations, and Job-to-Job Flow Rates, 2000–2013

Percent of Employment
16
14

J2J Hires

12
10

JOLTS Hires

8

2013:Q3

J2J Separations
JOLTS
Separations

6
4

J2J Job-to-Job
Hires

2

0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

Note: J2J job-to-job hires are generally equal to J2J job-to-job separations (not shown). Shading
denotes recession.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; Census Bureau, Job-toJob Flows.

Direct transitions of workers from one job to another also show recovery.
Worker flows out of jobs (separations), including voluntary quits, have also
slowly risen during the recovery. Naturally, involuntary separations spiked
during the recession, but recovery in voluntary separations indicates that
workers are feeling comfortable in changing employers, which reflects the
increasing strength of the labor market.
Consistent with the strong employment growth over the last 58
months, the rate of new job openings as a share of total positions is now
above its pre-recession average after falling by more than 40 percent dur‑
ing the recession (Figure 3-20). This increase in job openings offers further
opportunities for workers to change their employment status or situation if
desired. Taken together, these data indicate that greater fluidity has accom‑
panied the labor market strengthening.
While the short-term trend shows increased labor market dynamism,
a growing body of evidence finds that there are long-run downward trends
in fluidity that likely date back several decades. The recent gains in fluidity
measures reflect the strength of the recovery and should therefore generally
be viewed as positive. It is less clear, however, how the long-run decline
should be viewed given that it has the potential for both positive aspects in
terms of job stability and better matches, and negative aspects in terms of
potentially less effective reallocation of labor to its highest productivity uses.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  135

Figure 3-20
Job Opening Rates, 2000–2014

Vacancies as Percent of Total Positions
4.0

Nov-2014

3.5

3.0

2.5

2.0

1.5
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Notes: Shading denotes recession. Dashed line represents 2001-2007 average.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turover Survey; CEA calculations.

This section examines these longer-run trends and their potential impact on
the economy.

Trends in Labor Market Fluidity
Recent research has identified long-run declines in a variety of mea‑
sures of worker mobility. Research has shown that workers are less likely to
leave a job, are less likely to move to a new job, and are less likely to physi‑
cally move for a job (Kaplan and Schulhofer-Wohl 2012; Molloy, Smith, and
Wozniak 2014; Hyatt and Spletzer 2013). Research has also identified longrun declines in dynamism in firm-side measures, including job creation, job
destruction, and the entry and exit of establishments from the marketplace
(Decker et al. 2014; Davis and Haltiwanger 2014). Taken together, this body
of work indicates a U.S. labor market characterized by considerably lower
levels of fluidity of all kinds than was the case two to three decades ago.
Lower Hires and Separations Rates
Worker flows have declined since at least the late 1990s, including
the entire period for which the best direct data on worker flows are avail‑
able from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS, available
since 2001). Hyatt and Spletzer (2013) document declines of 10 percent
(using Current Population Survey data) to 38 percent (using Longitudinal
Employer-Household Dynamics data) in hires and separations since 2001,
136  |  Chapter 3

as shown in Figure 3-21.12 Davis and Haltiwanger (2014) have a longer series
on hires and separations that extends back to 1990, which shows a decline in
worker flows over this longer period.
Other studies examine fluidity indirectly by looking at outcomes for
which worker or job flows are likely important, such as flows between labor
market statuses, long-distance migration, and transitions between industries
and occupations. Some of these indirect measures can be calculated over
longer historical periods and also point to long-term declines in fluid‑
ity. Hyatt and Spletzer (2013) find that job-to-job transitions declined by
roughly 50 percent from 1998 to 2010. Davis et al. (2010) show that flows
into and out of unemployment fell by nearly one-half over the two decades
prior to the early 2000s. Long-distance migration in the United States, which
typically involves a change of employer or labor force status, has been in a
decades-long decline, falling by as much as 50 percent since the late 1970s
(Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak 2014; Kaplan and Schulhofer-Wohl 2012).
Industry, occupation, and employer transitions have also fallen markedly
over a similar period, with declines in those measures accelerating since the
1990s, as shown in Figure 3-22.13
Lower Job Creation and Job Destruction Rates
More is known about job flows (job creation and destruction) than
worker flows (hires and separations) since series data are available back
to the 1980s. Literature based on these data concludes that job flows have
markedly declined over the last 20 to 30 years. For example, Decker et al.
(2014) and Davis and Haltiwanger (2014) document that job creation and
job destruction fell from the late 1980s to just prior to the 2007 recession.
Hyatt and Spletzer (2013) find larger declines, of roughly one-quarter to
one-third, for both job creation and destruction between the late 1990s
and 2010. To the degree that this reflects structural improvements in the
economy that lead to more stable jobs, this would be an encouraging trend.
But a potential concern is that it could reflect less reallocation of resources
toward their most productive uses and thus fewer high-paying jobs.
Factors in Decreasing in Labor Market Fluidity
12 Differences in the duration of jobs and types of establishments captured by the three series
explain the level differences. The smaller decline in the Current Population Survey may be
related to the fact that it misses more short-term jobs than does the Longitudinal EmployerHousehold Dynamics data (Abraham et al. 2013), and Hyatt and Speltzer (2013) show that the
declining share of short-term jobs can explain some of the decline in hires and separations.
13 A caveat is that some studies using CPS data find less clear trends in transitions for the 1980s
to the 1990s, but again, for the late 1990s onward, the trend is clearly downward. Kambourov
and Manovskii (2009) tabulate occupation mobility from the CPS and find an increasing trend.
Moscarini and Thomsson (2007) characterize the trend in occupational mobility as weakly
increasing in the 1980s. In addition, Stewart (2007) finds no trend in job-to-job flows from the
1980s to the 1990s using the annual retrospective question CPS question.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  137

Figure 3-21
Trends in Hires and Separations, 1995–2012

Percent of Total Employment
35

LEHD Hires

30
25

CPS Hires

20

2012:Q3
JOLTS Hires

15
10
5
0
1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

2011

Source: Hyatt and Spletzer (2013); Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; Bureau of
Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; Census Bureau, Longitudinal EmployerHousehold Dynamics.

Figure 3-22
Employer, Occupation, and Industry Transitions, 1983–2013

Percent of Total Population Age 16+
14
12

Employer
Change
2013

10
8

Occupation
Change

6

Industry Change

4
2
0
1980

1985

1990

1995

Source: Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak (2014)

138  |  Chapter 3

2000

2005

2010

The empirical literature has only recently begun to examine why
job and worker transitions have fallen. Two basic hypotheses have been
explored: that firms or that workers have changed over time in ways that
lower fluidity. Evidence shows that the first of these can explain a portion
of declining fluidity. The average age and number of associated establish‑
ments per firm have both risen in recent decades (Davis and Haltiwanger
2014; CEA calculations). Older, larger firms are associated with lower job
flows, as these firms are less likely to contract or expand rapidly. Consistent
with this change in firm composition, rates of firm entry and exit have also
declined over the last three decades (Figure 3-23). Because the change in
the composition of firms has shifted in a way that, all else equal, would
suggest fewer worker hires and separations, researchers have tested to see
how much of the shift in worker flows can be explained by changes in firm
composition. Hyatt and Spletzer (2013) and Davis and Haltiwanger (2014)
decompose changes in worker flows into those due to job flows and those
due to worker movements between existing jobs. They find that changes in
job flows account for between one-third to one-half of the decline in worker
flows. Because job flows are determined in part by firm size and age, chang‑
ing firm characteristics contribute to the decline in worker flows (Hyatt and
Spletzer 2013). In contrast, changes in characteristics of the average worker,
like age and education, have been found to contribute little to declines in
fluidity (Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak 2014; Davis and Haltiwanger 2014).

Potential Consequences of Reduced Fluidity
Some explanations for reduced fluidity may be benign. For example,
employers may be increasing efforts to reduce turnover for a variety of
reasons: increased cost of switching workers as job training requirements
increase or better worker-firm matching at the point of hire, to name a few.14
A reduced level of labor market transitions may also have benefits for work‑
ers, like more stable jobs with less disruption that allow them to invest more
in skills that their employer values.
Reduced flows could be cause for concern, however, because they
may undermine workers’ abilities to improve their employment situations.
In particular, reduced fluidity may preclude employees from realizing the
wage gains of switching jobs or make it difficult for part-time workers to find
full-time work or result in fewer high-paying jobs in productive industries.
14 Cairo (2013) finds that job-training requirements have risen over time, which supports a
theory that on-the-job experience has also become more important. Both would likely lead
firms to want to lower turnover. No direct evidence exists on trends in the quality of workerfirm matches, but a substantial literature outlines the importance of this matching for wages
(Nagypál 2007; Crane 2014; Jovanovic 1979).

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  139

Figure 3-23
Firm and Establishment Entry Rates, 1978–2012

Percent of Total Firms/Establishments
15
14
13
12

Establishments

11
10

2012

Firms

9
8
7
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

Source: Census Bureau, Business Dynamics Statistics; CEA calculations.

2005

2010

A growing body of evidence finds that wages and earnings increase substan‑
tially when a worker changes jobs, as summarized in Table 3-3. In general,
workers gain at rates considerably above inflation.
Even when workers ultimately stay with their employer, the potential
for them to land better employment can generate wage growth as incumbent
employers raise wages to retain these workers (Beaudry and DiNardo 1991).
Lower fluidity may reduce workers’ abilities to raise their wages by changing
jobs, and consequently also their bargaining power with their incumbent
employer. In this way, reduced fluidity may contribute to slower wage
growth. Alternatively, lower fluidity may result from limited opportunities
for wage growth through employer transitions. Regardless, Table 3-3 shows
that the gains from switching jobs have varied over time. The largest wage
gains from switching jobs were seen in the late 1990s, while wage gains from
switching jobs in the 2000s were much lower.15
Other consequences of lower fluidity are perhaps more speculative but
warrant careful observation nonetheless. Greater fluidity—or more precisely
the conditions and institutions that enable greater fluidity—may prevent
the share of long-term unemployed from rising, and may thereby reduce
the negative consequences of long-term unemployment. More fluid labor
15 Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak (2014) note that point estimates in both the PSID and NLSY
are similar when the recession years are excluded.

140  |  Chapter 3

Table 3-3
Wage and Earnings Gains Associated with Job Switching
Data
Source
LEED

18 to 34

PSID

Topel and Ward (1992)

Age
Group

22 to 29

Gain to Switching
Jobs

NLSY

LEHD

22 to 29

25 to 55

9%
4%

1995-2001

10%

1966-1981

7%

2003-2011

Molloy, Smith, and
Wozniak (2014)

Fallick, Haltiwanger, and
McEntarfer (2012)

Time Period
1957:Q1 1972:Q4
1983-1994

1979-1994
2002-2011
1995:Q2
1999:Q2
2001:Q2

2%
3%
4%
8%

14%
6%

Note: Topel and Ward (1992) and Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak (2014) are wage regression models,
while Fallick, Haltiwanger, and McEntarfer (2012) use sample earnings medians from job switchers.
All regression estimates are statistically significant, except for the Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak (2014)
estimates from the 2000s.

markets may also be more resistant to cyclical shocks, or, at minimum, may
experience faster recoveries after a recession (Blanchard and Wolfers 2000).
If this is the case, the slower recoveries in the shares of part-time for eco‑
nomic reasons and in long-term unemployment in recent recessions could
in fact be related to the long-run decline in fluidity.

Wage Growth and Job Quality
In 2014, average real wages for production and nonsupervisory work‑
ers increased 0.8 percent after increasing 0.7 percent in 2013. Although
not sufficient, these increases are a marked improvement from the 2000s,
including the pre-Great Recession years of 2001 to 2007, when real wage
growth averaged 0.5 percent a year, as shown in Figure 1-4 of Chapter 1.
While these recent wage gains are further evidence of a strengthening labor
market, there is more work to be done to ensure that middle-class families
fully share in the benefits of the recovery.
The evidence presented below shows that 2014 was a strong year for
growth across almost all sectors, but it was particularly strong in several that
have traditionally provided good, middle-class jobs. A longer-run perspec‑
tive, however, shows that over the past several decades the composition of
jobs has shifted toward both high- and low-skilled sectors while employment
in the middle of the skill distribution has declined.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  141

Job Growth in 2014
Not only was 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s,
but the pickup in growth between 2013 and 2014 occurred more strongly in
industries with higher average wages, as shown in Figure 3-24. For instance,
average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers are about $170 higher
than the average for all private-sector workers, and manufacturing job
growth almost doubled from 10,000 a month in 2013 to 19,000 a month in
2014. Similarly, employment in the construction sector, which has average
weekly earnings about $200 above the private-sector average, rose by an
average of 28,000 a month in 2014, up from 18,000 a month in 2013.16 It
is important to note, however, that this—like any estimate of job growth
by industry or occupation—does not necessarily tell the full story, which
depends not just on job growth across sectors, but also on what is happening
to job growth within sectors as well.

Patterns in Wage Growth since the 1980s
As discussed in Chapter 1 and shown in Table 3-4, for most workers,
earnings gains have not kept pace with productivity gains over the last sev‑
eral decades.17 The official estimate of labor productivity grew an average of
2.0 percent a year between 1980 and 2014. To make it comparable to the real
wage and compensation data used below, CEA adjusted labor productivity
using an index of consumer prices, the CPI-U-RS, yielding an estimate of
1.3 percent annual growth in productivity.18 Over this period, hourly com‑
pensation for the average worker rose 0.9 percent annually, indicating that
compensation did not keep up with productivity growth and that the share
of gross domestic income going to capital was rising. Average hourly wages
(calculated from wage and salary earnings in the CPS microdata) fell even
16 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics; CEA calculations.
17 All of the consumer price deflation in Table 3-4, and in this section, is done using the
CPI-U-RS, as is common in the labor literature. The CPI-U-RS is the Consumer Price
Index adjusted backwards to make a methodologically consistent historical series. Footnotes
in this subsection indicate results using an alternative index, the price index for Personal
Consumption Expenditure (PCE) from the National Income and Product Accounts. The PCE
price index has the property relative to the CPI of not covering the same consumer basket as
the one consumers purchase through their wages—for example, it includes Medicare costs
for the government and the costs facing nonprofits. However, the PCE deflator also has the
properties associated with using a chain-weighted index. As a result, PCE-adjustment implies
real wage increases over time that are about 0.3 percentage point per year higher than CPIbased adjustment.
18 The difference between the two estimates of productivity growth reflects slower growth in
prices of investment goods and the terms of trade, relative to consumption good prices. As a
result, the implicit price deflator used to deflate productivity rises more slowly than consumer
prices over this period. If the labor share was constant, productivity adjusted for consumer
prices should keep pace with wages adjusted for consumer prices.

142  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-24
Change in Job Growth vs. Average Earnings
by Industry, 2013–2014

Change in Percent Annual Employment Growth, 2014 vs. 2013 (Percentage Points)
3.0
Average Weekly
Mining and
Earnings for All
Private-Sector
Workers: $852.20

2.5
2.0
1.5

1.0
0.5
0.0
-0.5

-1.0
$200

Education and
Temporary Health Services
Help
Services
Other Services

Logging

Construction

Transportation and
Warehousing
Manufacturing
Wholesale
Trade

Utilities
Professional and
Business Services*
Financial Activities

Leisure and
Hospitality

$400

Information
Retail Trade

$600
$800
$1,000
$1,200
Average Weekly Earnings, December 2014

$1,400

$1,600

Note: *Excludes Temporary Help Services (shown separately). Average earnings for Temporary Help
Services are not seasonally adjusted.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics.

further short of productivity growth, rising only 0.6 percent a year, because
they do not include the faster-growing components of compensation like
employer-paid health insurance. Finally, median hourly wages grew only
0.3 percent per year—slower than average wages because the increase in
wage inequality meant larger increases in wages for workers near the top,
raising the average much more than the median. In total, the disconnect
between the 2.0 percent annual productivity growth and the 0.3 percent
annual growth in the median wage reflects the combination of these factors:
a methodological issue involving different price indices, the rapid rise of
benefit costs, and the increase in inequality.19
The slowdown in wage growth has been felt most in the middle and
bottom of the wage distribution. Aside from the late 1990s—a period that
saw rapid wage growth across the distribution—over most of the last three
decades, wages have been stagnant or deteriorating for all except the highest
earners. Figure 3-25 shows that these patterns have led to a widening in wage
inequality since the late 1970s (Juhn, Murphy, and Pierce 1993; Lemieux
2006; Autor, Katz, and Kearney 2008). Between 1979 and 2014, real wages
for the highest earners (the 90th percentile of the wage distribution) have
grown by around 35 percent. At the same time, median wages rose by 8
19 If Table 3-4 were produced using the PCE index, the average annual percent increase would
be 1.6 for labor productivity; 1.2 for compensation; 0.9 for mean wages; and 0.6 for the median
wage.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  143

Table 3-4
Average Annual Percent Change in Real Productivity,
Compensation, and Wages, 1980–2014
Real Labor Productivity

Labor Productivity*
Labor Compensation*
Mean Hourly Wage (CPS)*
Median Hourly Wage (CPS)*

2.0
1.3
0.9
0.6
0.3

Note: Series marked with (*) are adjusted for inflation using the CPI-U-RS. Wages are calculated using the
same method as Figure 3-25.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Productivity and Costs; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population
Survey (Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups); Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index; CEA
calculations.

percent while wages at the 10th percentile declined slightly.20 As a result, the
ratio between wages at the 90th and 10th percentiles widened by 37 percent
since 1979. The 90th-to-50th percentile ratio grew by 26 percent, and the
ratio between the 50th and 10th percentiles increased only slightly. As the
figure shows, inequality at the bottom of the wage distribution—that is,
between the 50th and 10th percentiles—grew rapidly during the 1980s and
has been relatively constant since, whereas inequality between the highest
earners and the rest of the distribution has grown since the late 1970s.
Figure 3-25 shows that the lack of wage growth in the lower half of
the wage distribution has been a continuing challenge for more than three
decades. Lee (1999) documents that an important factor explaining this
decline is the erosion of the real value of the minimum wage. Increasing
the value of the minimum wage in 2014 to its real average value in 1979
would have directly increased wages for the lowest 8 percent of wage earn‑
ers.21 Economists have found that the minimum wage can also “spill over”
to increase wages for those with wages above the new minimum, since
employers may adjust their compensation schedules to preserve relative pay
among their workers (Autor, Manning, and Smith 2014). Autor, Manning,
and Smith (2014) find that the effect of the minimum wage on inequality in
the lower part of the wage distribution can be quite substantial: an approxi‑
mately 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, relative to the median
wage, reduces the 50-10 ratio by about 1.5 percent.
20 Using the PCE deflator, 90th percentile wages would have grown by 50 percent, median
wages by 20 percent, and 10th percentile wages by 10 percent. While the levels would be
increased with this deflator, the evolution of inequality—the differences between the levels—is
unaffected by the deflator.
21 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups);
CEA calculations. Inflation-adjusted using the CPI-U-RS. This is the percentage of workers
making below the 1979 inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage.

144  |  Chapter 3

Figure 3-25
Wage Inequality, 1979–2014

Real Hourly Wage Index, 1979=100
150

2014

90th Percentile

140
130

50th Percentile

120
110
100

10th Percentile

90

80
70
60
1979

1984

1989

1994

1999

2004

2009

2014

Note: The figure depicts real hourly wage quantiles for workers age 18 to 64, excluding individuals
who are self-employed, who have real wages below $0.50 or greater than $100 (in 1989 dollars), or
whose wages are imputed. Top-coded earnings adjusted following Lemieux (2006). Inflation adjusted
using the CPI-U-RS.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups);
CEA calculations.

The Rise of the Skill Premium and Employment Growth in Highand Low-Skill Occupations
The rise in inequality shown in Figure 3-25 is also seen in earnings
differentials for workers with different levels of education. Since the 1980s,
the college income premium—the ratio of income among workers with at
least a college education to workers with only a high school diploma—has
increased. In 1963, men and women with college educations earned incomes
33 and 76 percent higher, respectively, than men and women with only
high school diplomas. Since about 1980, however, these income gaps have
widened so that by 2013, college-educated workers’ incomes were more than
twice the incomes of high school graduates.
Economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz (2010) explain this
phenomenon as a “race” between technological advancements that increase
the demand for highly-skilled workers and the supply of such workers.
In particular, they document a slowdown in the growth of the collegeeducated workforce around 1980. This slowdown has meant that growth in
the demand for skills (technology) outpaced growth in the supply of skills
(educational attainment of workers), leading the college earnings premium
to increase.
In spite of the long-term rise in demand for skill, employers appear
to be offering less training than in the 1990s (Figure 3-27). To some extent,

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  145

Figure 3-26
College Income Premium by Gender, 1963–2013

Ratio of College Income to High School Income
2.50

2013
Women

2.25
2.00
1.75
Men

1.50
1.25
1.00

1960

1965

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Income premia calculated using median annual income of persons 25 and older. Prior to 1991, "high
school graduates" refers to respondents with 4 years of high school, and "college graduates" refers to
respondents with at least 4 years of college.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (Annual Social and Economic Supplement);
CEA calculations.

these changes may reflect shifts in industry structure: historically, jobs with
high vocational requirements are most likely to offer on-site training and
financial assistance (Altonji and Spletzer 1991). Nevertheless, it appears that
fewer workers are able to acquire new skills either on the job or with the
support of their employer than in the past. Less access to training may con‑
tribute to inequality, since when employers invest in their workers’ human
capital by paying for training or offering training on the job site, workers
also benefit in the form of future wage increases (Bartel 1992; Lynch 1991).
At the same time that wages and employment have been growing
among high-skill workers, employment in middle-skill jobs has declined,
especially relative to higher- and lower-skill jobs. Economists use the term
polarization to describe this pattern: employment loss in the middle of the
wage or job skill distribution combined with relative job growth at the bot‑
tom and at the top. The concept of polarization has its roots in the large
literature on skill-biased technological change that developed to try to
understand changes in wage inequality since the 1970s (Bound and Johnson
1995; Katz and Murphy 1992; Juhn, Murphy, and Pierce 1993). In the
past decade, economists have refined the skill-biased technological change
model, arguing that technology is a substitute for some, but not all, types of
labor. For example, Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) and Acemoglu and
Autor (2011) develop a model in which technology can replace labor in
tasks that are easily automated, such as manual labor, and in which highly
146  |  Chapter 3

Percent
20

Figure 3-27
Percent of Workers Receiving Employer-Sponsored
or On-the-Job Training, 1996–2008
19.4

Employer Paid for Training
On-the-Job Training

16.7

15

13.1

11.7

10

12.4

11.2
8.6

8.4

5

0

1996

2001

2004

2008

Note: Fraction of workers ages 18-65 receiving training of any duration in the last year.
Source: Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation (Employment and Training Topical
Module); CEA calculations.

skilled managerial professions are complementary to labor. The tasks that
are most easily automated tend to be in the middle of the skills distribution,
so that over time employment moves to both the lower and higher ends of
the occupational ranking, as shown in Figure 3-28, where occupations are
ranked by average wage.
Figure 3-29 uses smoothed data from employment by occupations
harmonized over a longer time period to show this pattern more clearly:
since the late 1970s, employment growth has been greatest in the highest
and lowest earning occupations. The middle of the distribution has actually
experienced employment losses, with fewer workers employed in middlewage occupations in 2012 than in 1979.
As demand falls for manual tasks, wages and employment in these
positions also fall relative to highly-skilled workers, leading to greater
inequality. The results from this research show that, in theory, automation
can lead to both job and wage polarization (Acemoglu and Autor 2011;
Goos, Manning, and Salomon 2007) and some have demonstrated a link
between changing tasks and other forms of wage inequality (Black and SpitzOener 2010).
This stylized model, however, has not always matched the data.
Some economists argue that the automation hypothesis cannot explain the
timing of the trends in wage inequality and employment growth by real
wage level (Card and DiNardo 2002; Mishel, Shierholz, and Schmitt 2013).
Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  147

Figure 3-28
Change in Employment by Detailed Occupation, 1989–2014

Change in Total Employment, Thousands
7,000 Service Occupations,
Except Protective
and Household

6,000
5,000

Teachers, Except
Postsecondary

4,000
3,000

2,000

Technicians
and Related
Support
Occupations

Executive,
Administrative,
and Managerial
Occupations

Management
Related
Occupations

1,000
0
-1,000
-2,000
-3,000

$10

Secretaries,
Stenographers,
and Typists
Machine Operators

$14
$18
$22
$26
Average Hourly Wage, 1989 (in 2014 Dollars)

$30

Note: Excludes five occupational categories with outlying wages and relatively small changes in
employment (Farm Occupations, Except Managerial; Private Household Occupations; Engineers,
Architects, and Surveyors; Lawyers and Judges; and Health Diagnosing Occupations). Wages are calculated
using the method of Figure 3-25 and are adjusted for inflation using the CPI-U-RS.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

Figure 3-29
Changes in Employment by Occupational
Wage Percentile, 1979–2012

Change in Employment Share, Percentage Points
0.40
0.35
0.30
0.25
0.20
0.15
0.10
0.05

0.00

-0.05
-0.10
-0.15

-0.20

0

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
Percentile (Ranked by Occupational Mean Wage)

Source: Census Bureau, 1980 Census; Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey;
calculations by David Autor and Brendan Price.

148  |  Chapter 3

In particular, Mishel, Shierholz, and Schmitt (2013) find that changes in
employment across occupations explains little of the rise in inequality in the
overall wage distribution in contrast to what would be expected if occupa‑
tions accurately reflect differences in tasks for which technology may have
shifted demand.22

Broader Measures of Job Quality
Broader measures of compensation take into account the value of
nonwage features of jobs. Sometimes these are benefits, like employerprovided retirement plans, paid vacation days, and employer-sponsored
health insurance, but these can also be features like family-friendly schedul‑
ing practices and possibilities for advancement. Research has found that
trends in the combination of employer-provided benefits plus wages and
salary (called total compensation) broadly mirror those in wage compensa‑
tion — both have become substantially more unequal since the early 1980s,
though compensation inequality has generally grown more rapidly than
wage inequality (Pierce 2001, 2010).
Coverage of major employer benefits—specifically health insurance
and retirement plans—are tracked for long periods of time in surveys such
as the National Health Interview Survey and the Current Population Survey.
Changes in access to employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement
plans are shown separately in Figures 3-30 and 3-31. Access to these benefits
generally declined between 2000 and 2010, particularly for lower-skilled
workers. Recently, these trends have stabilized or begun to reverse: in 2013,
the share of employees with access to retirement plans increased, while
access to employer-sponsored health insurance held relatively steady from
2012.
Other important aspects of job quality are the number of hours a
worker is required to work, whether they are paid by salary, and whether
they are eligible for overtime pay for hours they work over 40 hours a week.
Figure 3-32 shows that since the mid-1990s, more full-time workers have
been earning salaries. Prior to the recession, the share of full-time workers
earning a salary was at or near its 1982 high. That share fell in the Great
Recession, as it did in the 1991 and 2001 recessions, but has recently started
to rise again. However, concern remains about the long hours of some sala‑
ried workers and whether they are properly compensated for those hours.
The value of the threshold at which salaried workers qualify for overtime pay
has eroded since it was last raised in 2004, and over this period the share of
22 Mishel, Shierholz and Schmitt (2013) show that occupations explain a small and decreasing
portion of the variance in wages.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  149

Percent
90

Figure 3-30
Share of Workers With an Offer of Employer-Sponsored
Insurance Coverage, by Education, 1997–2013
College
Graduate

80

2013

Some College

70
60

High School
Graduate

Less than High
School Diploma

50
40

30
1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

Source: National Health Interview Survey; CEA calculations.

Percent
70

2007

2009

2011

2013

Figure 3-31
Share of Workers Included in Employer-Provided
Retirement Plan, by Education, 1997–2013
College
Graduate

60

2013

50
Some College

40
30

Less than High
School Diploma

20
10
1997

High School
Graduate

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

2011

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (Annual Social and Economic
Supplement); CEA calculations.

150  |  Chapter 3

2013

Figure 3-32
Share of Full-Time Workers Paid a Salary, 1979–2013

Percent of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers
45
44
43

2013

42
41
40
39
38
37
36
35
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (Characteristics of Minimum Wage
Workers, 2013).

salaried workers afforded overtime protection has fallen from 45 percent to
39 percent.

The Agenda for a Stronger Labor Market
This chapter has documented strong progress in the labor market over
the past year. The headline unemployment rate is now 93 percent returned
to its 2001-07 average, and broader measures of labor underutilization
show a similar pattern. Despite this progress, however, the labor market
continues to face five related challenges. These challenges pre-date the Great
Recession, although a recovery may lessen these challenges going forward. 	
Nevertheless, policy is also needed to overcome the many obstacles to a
better functioning labor market.	 The challenges described in this chapter—
decreased labor force participation; more long-term unemployed workers;
more part-time workers, particularly among those who would like fulltime hours; lower labor market fluidity; and insufficient real wage growth
amidst a more polarized job market—are potentially all inter-connected.
For example, decreased labor force participation; longer unemployment
durations; and more people working, at least temporarily, in part-time jobs
when they want full-time jobs might all be related to decreased labor market
fluidity. If transitions among jobs, employers, and firms are less common,
it can take longer for people to find work, leading to longer unemployment
Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  151

durations. In addition, some of those workers may accept part-time work,
at least temporarily, and some workers may stay out of the labor market
because they are less likely to be aware of potential opportunities or find the
longer searches needed too discouraging.
One key element of a successful strategy to address these challenges
is providing workers with skills that help raise job security, earnings, and
job quality—and a highly-trained workforce can also contribute to further
long-term growth. The President’s plans to improve access to education and
training from birth through college are at the forefront of this strategy. The
President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget shows this commitment through a range
of proposals, from funding for early learning initiatives, including ensuring
that all 4-year-olds have access to pre-school, to proposing that two years
of high-quality community college be free for hard-working students. In
addition, he has proposed expanding apprenticeships and improving our
workforce training systems by expanding career counseling and training in
high-growth fields.
To further help workers access jobs that match their skills and quali‑
fications, the President has also proposed working with states to spread best
practices for occupational licensing systems and to reduce unnecessary
training or high fees that keep people from doing jobs that best utilize their
talents. This builds on the leadership that First Lady Michelle Obama and
Dr. Jill Biden have undertaken to reduce licensing barriers for military
spouses, through which 48 states have eased licensing requirements for cur‑
rent military spouses and veterans.
A second key aspect of the President’s proposals to support and help
build the middle class are policies that help working families stay in the
labor force, by supporting flexible workplace practices, access to paid leave
and paid sick days, and greater access to high quality child care. In addition
to the work-family policies discussed in Chapter 4, the Administration’s
proposal for a new secondary earner credit recognizes the additional costs
that families with two earners face and therefore would help dual-earning
couples make ends meet.
Moreover, these policies are intricately linked to the President’s early
childhood education proposals since ensuring that children are well-cared
for also supports their parents while they are at work. To this end, the
Administration has proposed a continuum of early learning opportunities
that could support working parents while benefiting children’s cognitive
and socio-emotional development. These initiatives include tripling the
existing child care tax credit for families with very young children and
expanding access to high-quality early education, including child care and
preschool. These steps can help parents enter the labor market knowing
152  |  Chapter 3

that their children are cared for in a safe and nurturing environment, while
also improving children’s academic performance and future outcomes in
adulthood.
Better skills and better employment supports are two key ingredients
for higher wages and higher incomes, but they are not sufficient. That is why
the President supports raising the minimum wage, a step that would help
tens of millions of workers and help ensure that no full-time worker raises
a family in poverty. Other institutional steps, like strengthening collective
bargaining, would further help ensure that everyone shares in the benefits
of growth.
Finally, the Administration continues to prioritize reducing long-term
unemployment. The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes $16 billion for
High-Growth Sector training grants, disbursed across states based on their
unemployment rates, to double the number of dislocated workers who can
receive the training necessary to transition to high-quality jobs. By making
more funds available during economic downturns to provide training for
those who face difficulties finding work in weak labor markets, this proposal
could also reduce increases in long-term unemployment during future
downturns. The President has also engaged businesses in hiring and recruit‑
ing the long-term unemployed.
The President’s FY 2016 Budget also proposes a package of reforms
to modernize the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, which provides
critical income support to those who are unemployed. These reforms will
improve the solvency of state programs, strengthen the program’s connec‑
tion to work, and reach more workers who lose a job through no fault of
their own. In addition, the proposal would make the UI program more tar‑
geted and responsive to economic downturns by implementing an Extended
Benefits program that provides added benefits as soon as a state experiences
a sharp rise in unemployment, even if a national increase in unemployment
has not yet occurred.
Taking steps to foster more growth and high-quality jobs, better pre‑
pare workers for these jobs, and ensure that all workers share in the benefits
of these jobs are the central tenets of the President’s approach to middle
class economics. All of these actions will help capitalize on the strengths of
the U.S. economy while moving to address the long-standing challenges in
the labor market.

Achievements and Challenges in the U.S. Labor Market  |  153

Box 3-4: Immigration Reform and Labor Markets
A large body of academic research finds that, on balance, immigra‑
tion has strong benefits for both the U.S. economy in general and U.S.
labor markets in particular. Immigrants increase the productivity of the
American workforce, both directly through increases in innovation and
indirectly through spillovers to U.S. workers. For example, not only do
high-skilled immigrants patent at a higher rate than their nonimmigrant
peers, but their innovation also has spillover effects on patenting by
native-born workers (Hunt and Gauthier-Loiselle 2010). At the same
time, lower-skilled immigration can have positive effects on worker
productivity by allowing for greater task specialization. While there is
ongoing discussion in the academic literature about the direct wage and
employment effects of immigration on native workers, it is important to
note that researchers have found positive effects of immigration on these
outcomes (for example, Peri, Shih, and Sparber 2014) as well as negative
(for example, Borjas et al. 1997). Nevertheless, a number of recent studies
suggest that complementarities between immigrant and nonimmigrant
workers—interactions that indirectly raise the productivity, and thus
wages, of both groups—may be substantial (e.g. Peri and Sparber 2009).
In addition to these benefits, immigration has the potential to raise the
overall labor force participation rate in the United States because immi‑
grants participate in the workforce at higher rates than the native-born
population (CBO 2015a). Researchers have shown that immigration is
associated with a range of characteristics that may be related to greater
labor force participation (Chiquiar and Hanson 2005; Butcher and Piehl
2007).
Despite these potential gains to the economy — and to American
workers — from immigration, the U.S. immigration system remains
badly broken. In November 2014, President Obama announced a series
of executive actions to begin moving our immigration system into
the 21st century. These provisions included actions designed to better
attract high-skilled immigrants and foreign entrepreneurs and to allow
advanced-degree holders in science, technology, engineering, and math‑
ematics (STEM) fields to extend on-the-job training. The actions will
also provide deferred action from removal to millions of undocumented
workers who have substantial ties to the United States, pass a criminal
background check, and pay payroll and income taxes. Drawing on a large
body of research examining the economic effects of previous immigra‑
tion reforms, the Council of Economic Advisers (2014a) estimated
that the actions announced by the President would raise U.S. GDP by
between 0.4 and 0.9 percent within ten years, equivalent to $90 to $210
billion in additional real GDP (in 2014 dollars) in 2024.

154 | 

While these gains are substantial, they are small when com‑
pared with the potential economic effects of Congressional action on
commonsense immigration reform. The Congressional Budget Office
(2013) found that the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and
Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) – the bipartisan immigration
reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013 – would increase real GDP
by 3.3 percent, or roughly $700 billion, over ten years and would raise
average wages for all workers by 0.5 percent in twenty years. In addition,
CEA estimates that the Senate’s commonsense immigration reform bill
would raise the overall labor force participation rate by approximately
0.3 percentage point in ten years.

 

|  155

C H A P T E R

4

THE ECONOMICS OF FAMILYFRIENDLY WORKPLACE POLICIES

W

omen greatly increased their participation in the labor force begin‑
ning in the 20th century, marking the start of a fundamental change
in our workforce and families. In 1920, only 24 percent of women worked
outside the home, a share that rose to 43 percent by 1970. Today the majority
of women—57 percent—work outside the home.1 A similar pattern is seen
in the participation rate of mothers with small children: 63 percent of whom
currently work outside the home, compared to only 31 percent in 1970.2
These gains in women’s labor force participation, as well as their
increased educational attainment, have translated into large income gains
for American families and have benefited the U.S. economy overall.
Essentially all of the income gains that middle-class American families have
experienced since 1970 are due to the rise in women’s earnings. By contrast,
wage growth for men over this same period has been flat. (For a broader
discussion of labor market trends, see Chapter 3.) For example, median fam‑
ily income in 2013 was nearly $11,000 higher than it was in 1970. If women
today still had the same labor force participation and working hours as they

1 Women’s labor force participation data for age 16 and over is calculated from the Decennial
Census in 1920 and taken from the published Bureau of Labor Statistics data series for 1970
and 2014.
2 Data are from the 1970 and 2014 Current Population Survey’s Annual Economic and Social
Supplement calculations that include women with their own children under age five living at
home in 1970 and 2014, using the share that are in the labor force during the survey reference
week.

157

did in 1970, median family income would be roughly $9,000 lower.3 More
generally, our economy is $2.0 trillion, or 13.5 percent, larger than it would
be without women’s increased participation in the labor force and hours
worked since 1970.4
While mothers have become important contributors to family income,
fathers have increasingly taken on caregiving responsibilities, shifting pat‑
terns in the organization of market work and non-market work within
families. Today men are doing a larger share of household duties than in the
past, though mothers still spend almost twice as much time on household
work as fathers. Mothers in 2013 dedicated more than 12 hours a week to
child care and related tasks, a slight increase from around 10 hours in 1965.5
By comparison, fathers spent almost 7 hours a week on child care and
related tasks in 2013, a nearly three-fold increase since 1965. Fathers are also
becoming more likely to assume significant child-care roles, and today about
15 percent of all stay-at-home parents are men (Livingston 2014). More gen‑
erally, caregiving responsibilities are shouldered by workers of both genders,
all ages, and in a variety of family situations. More than one-half of workers
provide care for others—including their children, elderly parents and rela‑
tives, spouses, adult children, and returning veterans with disabilities.6
Workplaces, however, have been slower to adapt to changing fam‑
ily dynamics. This has created greater conflicts between responsibilities at
3 This is based on an accounting exercise that compares the median family income in 2013
to the (counterfactual) median that would have been obtained in 2013 had the distribution
of women’s work hours been the same as it was in 1970. The counterfactual is constructed by
reweighting the 2013 family income distribution so that the reweighted distribution of family
hours worked by women is identical to that observed in 1970, using the technique introduced
by DiNardo, Fortin and Lemieux (1996; henceforth ‘DFL’). The procedure effectively gives
more weight to the family earnings of observations in 2013 that are more likely (based on
the hours worked by women) to have been observed in 1970—that is, families with lower
hours worked by women, and less weight to observations less likely to come from 1970. The
calculation is based on data on primary families only (families within households containing
the householder) from the 1971 and 2014 Current Population Survey ASEC. DFL weights are
based on a logistic regression of an indicator variable for whether an observation is from 2013
(rather than 1970) on a set of indicator variables for categories of total hours (in 100-hour
increments) worked by adult women in the family.
4 CEA calculated this using a growth account formula that relates the level of output to the
supply of labor. Using the Current Population Survey from 1970 to 2013, CEA calculated
the increase in hours worked by women and assumed that the average product of labor was
unchanged.
5 Data are from the American Time Use Survey. Child care and related tasks are measured
as any task identified under “caring for and helping household children.” Data from 1965
are analyzed by Bianchi, Robinson, and Milkie (2006). CEA used a similar methodology to
generate estimates for 2013.
6 From the BLS release “Unpaid Eldercare in the United States 2011-2012” and BLS Current
Population Survey, CEA calculated about 71 percent of workers have either elder care
responsibilities or dependent children.

158  |  Chapter 4

home and at work for men and women struggling to make ends meet and
to help their children succeed. This interaction between family lives and
work lives affects businesses and the economy. Many families deal with the
challenges of work-family conflict as they attempt to balance breadwinning
and caregiving responsibilities without the benefit of supportive familyfriendly workplace policies. Too often, this forces workers to make trade-offs
between the right job for their talents and the job that will allow them to best
meet the needs of their families, including the choice of whether to work at
all. Family-friendly workplace polices make it easier for people to make the
choices that are right for them and their families.
Because workers often favor companies with family-friendly policies,
the companies that adopt such policies are better able to attract and retain
talent. For example, nearly 50 percent of working parents report that they
have turned down a job offer because it would not have worked for their
families (Nielsen 2014). As more companies adopt such policies and as
public policies provide more of these benefits to all workers, people will have
more freedom to choose their jobs according to where they will be most pro‑
ductive. Thus, family-friendly policies are a key component of the economic
success of both families and businesses because they can help more workers
succeed, regardless of caregiving responsibilities.
This chapter examines changes in American family life and the
implications for work. The first section discusses how rising labor market
participation among women and changing patterns of caregiving for fathers
have helped grow household incomes and our economy, but has made the
need for family-friendly workplace policies more acute. The next few sec‑
tions examine access to important policies such as paid family leave, paid
sick leave, and workplace flexibility, including outlining policies at the State
and local level. The chapter then turns to analyzing the economics of familyfriendly workplace policies, including addressing why some companies have
implemented family-friendly workplace policies and others have not, and
analyzing the evidence on how these policies can benefit both businesses
and workers.

Recent Changes in American Family Life
and Their Implications for Work
Recent changes in American family life have altered the composition
of our workforce, daily routines, and how many of today’s workers navigate
dual roles as breadwinners and caregivers. These changes in the way that
families organize their work and family lives have created a greater need for
policies to help American workers better balance work and family needs.
The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  159

Attachment to the Labor Force and Educational Attainment Have
Increased Significantly Among American Women
One of the largest changes in work and family life occurred over the
last century as women became more-equal participants in the labor force by
increasing their participation in paid work, obtaining more education and
training, and widening the scope of occupation types they entered. Since
the beginning of the 1950s, women’s labor force participation has increased
by around 25 percentage points, while men’s labor force participation has
decreased by around 17 percentage points (Figure 4-1). While women on
average still tend to work fewer hours each week than men, the gender gap
in weekly hours worked has narrowed by around three hours since 1962.7 As
discussed in Chapter 1, prime-age women’s labor force participation grew
steadily between 1948 and 1973 at an average pace of 0.7 percentage point a
year, and then accelerated to 1.1 percentage point a year between 1973 and
1995.
However, women’s labor force participation and hours worked have
declined in recent years. As described in Chapter 3, more than one-half of
the decrease in labor force participation for both men and women since
2000 is due to the aging of the population, rather than changes in the choices
people are making. Much of the rest of the decline reflects other trends,
including a labor market still healing following the Great Recession.
In 2013, women accounted for 46.9 percent of all workers and 44.1
percent of all hours worked.8 Because labor force participation is a key driver
of economic growth, the greater attachment of women to the labor market
has implications for both families and the economy. However, sheer volume
is not the only, or even necessarily the most important, way that women’s
roles in the economy have changed. Women have also increased their labor
market skills over this period by acquiring more education and training,
receiving greater experience on the job, and moving into previously maledominated professions.
Women’s greater participation in the labor market has coincided
with a record number of women earning higher education degrees (Figure
4-2). These are related trends: as more women have stayed in the labor force
throughout their careers, chosen previously male-dominated occupations,
and sought career advancement, they have invested in more education to
7 CEA calculated this number using “hours worked last week” in the Current Population
Survey ASEC in 1962 and 2014, since “usual hours worked” is not available in earlier years.
8 Women’s share of employment was calculated using the monthly Current Population Survey
of workers ages 16 and older. Women’s hours as a share of all hours were calculated using the
Current Population Survey ASEC 2014. Aggregate hours were calculated by multiplying usual
weekly hours last year by weeks worked last year.

160  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-1
Labor Force Participation by Sex, 1948 –2014

Percent
100
90
80

Dec-2014

70

Men

60
50

Women

40
30
20
10
0
1948

1959

1970

1981

1992

2003

2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

Percent
45

Figure 4-2
Percent of Young Men and Women with
a Bachelor's Degree or Higher, 1964 –2014
2014

40
Women- At Least a Bachelor's Degree

35

Men- At Least a Bachelor's Degree

30
25

20

Women- At Least Some Graduate School

15
10
5
0

Men- At Least Some Graduate School
1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

Note: Data are for men and women ages 25-34.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  161

prepare themselves for these opportunities (Goldin and Katz 2002). As of
academic year 2009-10, women received 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees.9
In addition, women have increasingly enrolled in formerly male-dominated
professional and graduate degree programs. For example, today, women
receive 52 percent of doctoral degrees (which includes PhDs, MDs, and
law degrees), compared to 45 percent in academic year 1999-2000. If these
patterns continue, women will soon represent a growing majority of highly
educated workers.10
Rising educational attainment among women has opened up new
career opportunities, which may have contributed to the decrease in occu‑
pational segregation. Today, women comprise much larger shares of many
traditionally male occupations such as physicians, dentists, economists, and
lawyers than they did fifty years ago (Goldin and Katz 2002). About twothirds of occupations in 1970 were 80 percent or more male; today, about 40
percent of occupations fall into that category.11
Higher rates of labor force participation, combined with increased
educational investments and broader career choice among women, have
translated into earnings gains for women relative to men, and have mark‑
edly increased the importance of women’s income in the household. More
than 40 percent of mothers are now the sole or primary source of income
for the household, reflecting both an increase in female-headed households
and increased earnings among married women (Wang, Parker, and Taylor
2013). In 2013, employed married women’s earnings comprised 44 percent
of their family’s earnings, up from 37 percent in 1970 (Figure 4-3).12

Families Are Adjusting to New Caregiving Needs
As mothers increasingly participate in the labor force and patterns
of fathers’ caregiving change, conflict between work and caregiving has
grown. The result is ever more families trying to balance work and family
9 Unless otherwise specified, data in this paragraph comes from U.S. Department of Education,
National Center for Education Statistics (2012). “The Condition of Education 2012” (NCES
2012-045), Indicator 47.
10 Restricting to those age 25 to 64, and assuming that as many female and male workers with
college degrees enter the labor force at age 25 next year as entered this year, while those at age
64 leave, women would be 50.6 percent of workers with college degrees in 2015, while in 15
years women would be 53.9 percent of college-educated workers.
11 CEA calculations using the Current Population Survey Annual Economic and Social
Supplement in 1970 and 2014. Only those currently employed were included, and IPUMS 1950
occupational codes were used.
12 CEA used the Current Population Survey Annual Economic and Social Supplement in 1971
and 2014 to calculate the portion of husband and wife wage and salary income from married
women. Households where married women earned $0 or more than $2 million were omitted
from analysis.

162  |  Chapter 4

Percent
46

Figure 4-3
Employed Married Women's Contribution
to Family Earnings, 1970 –2013
2013

44
42
40
38
36
34

1970

1980

1990

2000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

obligations, and an increasing proportion of households in which all par‑
ents work. Today, all parents are working in more than 6 out of every 10
households with children, up from 4 out of 10 in 1968 (Figure 4-4).13 The
share of families with infants where all parents work has exhibited a similar
increase (Figure 4-4). These increases are due to two separate trends: the rise
in dual-earner families discussed previously and an increase in single-parent
families. As of 2013, 31.9 percent of families with children were headed by
a single parent, compared to 19.5 percent in 1980.14 Over three-quarters
of the single-parent families in 2013 were headed by women. Partners in
two-parent families are increasingly sharing caregiving responsibilities more
equally, meaning that both parents have responsibility for both caregiving
and work. However, the rise in single-parent families means that a growing
number of households with children have only one adult and, as such, that
one adult has primary responsibility for both caregiving and work. For these
households, family-friendly workplace policies are especially important,
since it can be more difficult for single parents to make alternative arrange‑
ments when work-family conflicts arise.
As mothers have entered the labor force in greater numbers, fathers
are increasingly taking on child-care responsibilities. The share of fathers
13 Including biological, step, and adoptive parents.
14 Census Table FM-1

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  163

Figure 4-4
Percent of Households with Children
in Which All Parents Work, 1968–2014

Percent
70

2014

Children of Any Age

60

Youngest Child
Under 12 Months

50
40
30
20

10
0

1965

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

who stay at home while a spouse works has doubled in the last 25 years.15
Today, around 15 percent of stay-at-home parents are fathers (Livingston
2014). The role of fathers is continuing to evolve and both employed and
non-employed fathers are spending more time on child care than they did
even a decade ago.16 As shown in Figure 4-5, fathers are more likely now
than a decade ago to help bathe and diaper, read to kids, and help with
homework.17
On average, fathers spent 4.0 fewer hours a week on paid work in 2013
than in 1965, and 4.2 more hours a week on child care and 5.3 hours a week
more on housework (Figure 4-6). So fathers are working more hours than
in the past when the work of child care and household tasks is included, but
a much larger share of their work is home production. Despite these shifts,
social science surveys show that the majority of men and women believe that
men should spend more time caring for children, possibly reflecting the fact
that fathers, on average, still spend less time on child care than mothers.18
15 Census Bureau Table MC-1
16 CEA calculations using American Time Use Survey, based on Bianchi, Robinson, and Milkie
(2006).
17 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Survey of Family Growth 2002-2010.
18 In 2013, mothers spent 12.1 hours per week on child care according to the ATUS data used
to calculate men’s time spent on child care in Figure 4-6. Data from the 2002 wave of the
General Social Survey show that 67 percent of men and 74 percent of women think that men
should spend more time caring for children.

164  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-5
Fathers Reporting Role in Child Care Activities for Selected Years
Percent
100

Help with Homework

Read to Kids

Bathe and Diaper
93

90

82

80
70

58

60

56

65

61

50
40

30
20
10

0

2002

2010

Note: Data show the percentage of resident fathers ages 15-44 who report they participate in the
activity at least several times per week.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Survey of Family Growth, 2002-2010;
CEA calculations.

Hours per Week
60
50

Figure 4-6
Fathers' Average Weekly Time Use

Child Care (2.5)
Housework (4.4)

40
30

Child Care (6.7)
Housework (9.7)

Paid work (42.0)

Paid work (38.0)

1965

2013

20
10
0

Note: Fathers are defined as adult men ages 18-64 with children under 18.
Source: Bianchi et al. (2006); Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2013; CEA
calculations.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  165

Greater longevity among older adults means that many workers also
act as caregivers for other adults, such as the elderly or people with dis‑
abilities. Each year, approximately 40 million Americans (16 percent of the
population aged 15 and older) provide unpaid care to an elderly relative or
friend.19 Most people providing eldercare are employed (63 percent), and
about one-half work full-time.20 Just as working parents must juggle caregiv‑
ing and work responsibilities, many eldercare providers face similar—if not
greater—competing demands.
While most eldercare providers are balancing work on top of their
caregiving responsibilities (Figure 4-7), one-fifth of eldercare providers are
also providing care for young children.21 Despite the increased potential for
work-family conflict, parents who provide eldercare have even higher rates
of employment than eldercare providers without dependent children: 78
percent are employed and 62 percent work full-time. Now that baby boom‑
ers are entering retirement, it is likely that the “sandwich generation”—those
caring for elderly relatives and young children—will continue to grow over
the next 30 years (Figure 4-8).

The Effects of Work-Family Conflict
As both men and women increasingly perform multiple roles, many
struggle to meet their work and family goals. Among dual-earning couples,
the likelihood of reporting work-family conflict has become especially
pronounced among fathers. In 2008, 60 percent of fathers in dual-earner
couples reported work-family conflict, compared to 35 percent in 1977—a
25 percentage-point increase in just one generation (Figure 4-9; Galinsky,
Aumann, and Bond 2011). Although in 1977 mothers in dual-earning cou‑
ples were more likely to report work-family conflict than fathers, this pattern
has since reversed; in 2008, fathers were more likely to report work-family
conflict, consistent with the rise in time spent on child care among fathers.
Conflicts between work and family may arise because work obliga‑
tions encroach on family responsibilities, but conflict can also arise when
family encroaches on work. Both genders increasingly perceive that their
work responsibilities interfere with their family obligations. In 2010, 46 per‑
cent of full-time working men and women reported that their job demands
interfered with their family life sometimes or often, up from 41 percent in
2002 (Figure 4-10). In contrast, a smaller share of full-time workers report
19 Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey 2011; CEA calculations.
20 Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey 2011, 2012; CEA calculations; BLS
release “Unpaid Eldercare in the United States 2011-2012.”
21 All data in this paragraph is from BLS release “Unpaid Eldercare in the United States
2011-2012.”

166  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-7
Percent of All Unpaid Eldercare Providers
Who Are Employed, 2011–2012

Percent
100

All

89

90
80

71

68

70

Parents

59

60
50
40
30
20
10

0

Men

Women

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011 and 2012; CEA calculations.

Figure 4-8
Share of Households with Children Under 18
and Adults Over 65, 1968–2014

Percent
6

2014
5
4
3
2

1
0

1965

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; CEA calculations.

2010

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  167

Figure 4-9
Percentage of Mothers and Fathers Reporting Work-Family Conflict
for Selected Years

Percent
65

60

60

Fathers in
Dual-Earner Couples

55
50

47

45
40
35

Mothers in
Dual-Earner Couples

41
35

30

1977

2008

Source: Family and Work Institute, National Study of the Changing Workforce, 2008; Employment
Standards Administration, Quality of Employment Survey, 1977, as analyzed in Galinsky, Aumann,
and Bond (2011).

Figure 4-10
Percentage of Full-Time Workers Who Report Work-Family Conflict
for Selected Years

Percent
50

Work Interferes with Family

45
40

46

41

35
30

29
Family Interferes with Work

25
20

2002

Source: General Social Survey, 2002, 2010; CEA calculations.

168  |  Chapter 4

28

2010

that family responsibilities interfere with work, about 28 to 29 percent in
both 2002 and 2010.22
Work and family conflict can also affect co-workers and employers
as conflicts lead to greater absenteeism, lower productivity, and greater
turnover.23 Lessening the constraints families face as they seek to balance
work and family can benefit more than just individual families, but also our
overall economy. By expanding family-friendly workplace policies, caregiv‑
ers have more options to make the right choice for them. For example, when
workers must choose between spending the first few months at home with
a new baby or keeping their job, families are put in a difficult position and
the economy potentially loses a worker who would prefer to stay in the labor
force if only they had time off. Similarly, policies that encourage workplace
flexibility can help more families meet both their family and professional
goals—something that is good for both them and our economy.
As discussed, the benefits of more flexible workplace policies will spill
over to other workers, employers, and the overall economy. This chapter
examines two major types of workplace policy, paid leave and the broader
category of workplace flexibility policies. It also documents where these
policies are found today, and what types of workers have access to them,
including through State and local efforts to expand access. The chapter then
turns to the economics of such policies, reviewing analysis that examines the
benefits of these policies for business and the economy.

Access to Family-Friendly Workplace Policies
Two of the most important policies that firms can offer to allow work‑
ers to better balance work and family are access to paid leave and workplace
flexibility. Paid leave includes access to family leave, sick leave, and other
leave that allow workers to take paid time off to care for themselves or a
family member.
Workplace flexibility generally refers to arrangements that allow
workers to shift the time or location of their work through flexible or
alternative hours, telecommuting policies, or alternative work locations.
It can also include partial employment options such as job sharing and
phased retirement of older workers. Flexibility can include shifts in arrival
and departure times, the schedule of breaks and overtime, and the number
of days or hours worked per week, such as a compressed workweek or the
ability to accrue and use comp time at the employee’s discretion. Scheduling
22 NORC at University of Chicago; General Social Survey 2002 and 2010; CEA calculations.
23 See e.g. Dalton and Mesch (1990); NACEW (2013); Gov. UK (2014); Ton (2012); Baughman,
DiNardi, and Holtz-Eakin (2003).

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  169

adjustments can be an important tool to address unexpected issues outside
of work. For instance, if a family member is sick, allowing workers to work
from home may be an alternative to the worker taking paid leave in some
jobs. Workplace flexibility is not a substitute for leave policies, however.
Instead, workplace flexibility can be a complement to leave policies, allowing
workers to cope with emergencies with the least disruption to their work.

Access and Use of Leave in the United States
The 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) significantly expanded
access to leave by requiring employers to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid
leave for qualifying reasons, including the birth of a child. The FMLA
increased unpaid leave use and coverage without reducing women’s employ‑
ment or wages (Waldfogel 1999). Many workers, however, are exempt from
the FMLA, including employees who have been with the firm for less than
12 months and have worked fewer than 1,250 hours, those at private busi‑
nesses with fewer than 50 employees, and those who work part-time.24 A
recent survey found that the FMLA covered only about 60 percent of work‑
ers (Klerman, Daley, and Pozniak 2014). As of 2011, almost one-third of
workers reported no access to unpaid leave (Table 4-1). Further, the FMLA
only guarantees access to unpaid leave for covered workers, not paid leave.
The distinction between paid and unpaid leave is important, espe‑
cially for low-wage workers. Although unpaid leave may provide some
flexibility, it is not a realistic option if workers cannot afford to take it. The
implementation of paid family leave in California illustrates this point. The
unpaid leave guaranteed by the FMLA enabled some mothers, mostly those
with more education in higher-paying fields, to take maternity leave prior
to California’s paid family leave policy. However, it was not until California
guaranteed access to paid family leave benefits through its State-based fam‑
ily leave plan that lower-income mothers began taking maternity leave in
greater numbers (Rossin-Slater, Ruhm, and Waldfogel 2013). Although the
expanded leave opportunities provided by FMLA made real progress for
American workers two decades ago, the United States today significantly
lags its international peers in leave provision, as discussed in Box 4-1.
Approximately 4 percent of workers reported in 2011 that they wanted to
take leave in a given week but could not do so, compared to 23 percent of

24 The FMLA also excludes some employees of otherwise eligible employers (such as those
with more than 50 employees in total); for example, those who work at a location where the
employer has fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles.

170  |  Chapter 4

Table 4-1
Access to Leave (ATUS), 2011
Percent Unpaid

Percent Paid

Vacation

Reason

60

56

Own Illness

73

53

Family

71

48

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

workers who did take leave.25 In addition, according to a recent FMLA sur‑
vey, 6.1 percent of female employees had an unmet need for leave (compared
to 3.2 percent of male employees), while 6.7 percent of workers of color
had an unmet need for leave (compared to 3.8 percent of White workers)
(Klerman, Daley, and Pozniak 2014).26
After vacation, sick leave is the most common type of paid leave
employees have access to: approximately 53 percent of workers report hav‑
ing access to some form of paid leave they could take in the event of their
own illness, but only 43 percent said they thought that they would be able
to use paid leave to take care of ill family members. Overall, less than onehalf of workers (48 percent) reported being able to take paid leave for any
family-related reason. Even when workers have access to some forms of paid
leave, it cannot always be used for all purposes. For instance, paid vacation
days may be impractical to use for illness because an employer might require
scheduling the time in advance.
Only a minority of workers–39 percent–report access to paid fam‑
ily leave for the birth of a child. Mothers are only slightly more likely than
fathers to be able to access leave upon the birth of a child: 38 percent of
working men say that they could take paid leave for the birth of a child, com‑
pared to 40 percent of working women. At the time of the American Time
Use Survey, only residents of California and New Jersey, covering about 15
percent of the U.S. population, had State-run paid leave policies.27 Since the
25 Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey 2011; CEA calculations and published
tables. The calculations in this paragraph and the ones following reflect responses to whether
workers believe that they can take leave, assuming they receive their employer’s approval,
as asked in the American Time Use Survey (unless otherwise specified). To the extent that
employers do not approve of leave, particularly unpaid leave, these statistics overstate the
availability of leave.
26 The study defined reasons for having an unmet need for leave as i) the individual is not
eligible for FMLA, ii) the reason for leave is not covered by the FMLA, and iii) the individual
has exhausted her available entitlement for the leave year. The study did not inquire about
conditions that would necessitate leave (Klerman, Daley and Pozniak 2013).
27 Since the American Time Use Survey paid leave module was conducted, Rhode Island has
also implemented a paid family leave program.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  171

Box 4-1: International Comparisons: Access
to Paid Leave in Other Countries
The United States is the only developed country in the world that
does not ensure paid maternity leave (International Labour Organization
2014). Even in the developing world, only Papua New Guinea does not
ensure paid maternity leave. In addition to guaranteeing paid maternity
leave, other countries have acted to extend the amount and type of
required parental leave. As of 2013, the majority of countries (53 percent
of all countries and territories, and 95 percent of developed countries)
surveyed by the International Labour Organization guaranteed paid
maternity leave for a period of at least 14 weeks, the minimum duration
recommended by the Maternity Protection Convention to ensure the
health of mother and child (International Labour Organization 2014).
Other countries have also moved toward offering paternity leave in
addition to maternity leave. As of 2013, 47 percent of countries and ter‑
ritories for which data are available provide both paternity and maternity
leave, and paternity leave is paid in 90 percent of these countries. In
contrast, just 28 percent of countries had statutory paternity leave provi‑
sions in 1994. Like maternity leave, the duration of paternity leave varies
across countries, from one day in Tunisia to 90 days in Iceland, Slovenia,
and Finland (International Labour Organization 2014).
Countries ensure paid maternity leave in different ways. The
International Labour Organization contends that maternity leave should
be provided through social insurance or public funds in order to
provide broad coverage and mitigate discrimination against women in
hiring that might arise if employers are fully responsible for financing
maternity leave. In 2013, the majority of countries (58 percent) provided
for maternity leave through social insurance programs, while a quarter
relied solely on employer mandates. Sixteen percent of countries com‑
bine employer mandates and social insurance programs. In developed
economies, 88 percent have programs financed exclusively through
social contributions, while 10 percent have programs that involve an
employer requirement. Since 1994, however, both developed and devel‑
oping countries have shifted from employer mandates to more collective
systems.

survey was conducted, Rhode Island has implemented a paid family leave
program. The remainder of those reporting access to paid leave in the
survey either had employers that voluntarily provided paid family leave, or
could utilize other forms of paid leave, such as vacation time or compensa‑
tion time, for the birth of a child. These responses also do not indicate the

172  |  Chapter 4

Table 4-2
Access to Leave (NCS), 2014
Percent Paid Sick
Leave

Percent Paid Vacation

Percent Paid Holidays

Civilian

65

74

75

Private Industry

61

77

76

State and Local Gov't

89

59

67

Leave Type

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey, Employee Benefits Survey, March 2014.

duration of leave; some of those who have access to paid family leave can
take only a few paid days off work.
Access to paid leave varies by hours worked, firm size, and sector of
employment. According to a nationally representative employer survey,
65 percent of employees have access to paid sick leave. Private employers,
however, are much less likely to offer paid sick leave than public-sector
employers (Table 4-2): 61 percent of private-sector employees have access to
paid sick leave, compared to 89 percent among public-sector employees. In
contrast, private employers were more likely than public-sector employers
to offer either paid vacation or holiday time.28
However, employer surveys suggest that the availability of formal paid
leave programs to workers is much lower than employee surveys indicate.
According to an employer survey, only 11 percent of private-sector workers
have access to a formal paid family leave policy, including only 4 percent
of part-time workers (Van Giezen 2013). Workers at smaller firms also
have less access to paid leave—only 8 percent of those at establishments
with fewer than 100 workers (Van Giezen 2013). Although employer and
employee surveys often give different impressions of benefits availability
(Box 4-2), the discrepancy in this case may be due to workers reporting that
they can use some paid time for caregiving—for example, paid sick days
or accrued vacation time—but not necessarily that they have coverage by a
formal paid leave program.
Even when workers have access to leave, they may not be able to use
it. Some workers, especially lower-income workers and those who are their
family’s primary breadwinner, cannot forego wages by taking unpaid leave.
Other workers may be pressured by their employer not to take leave. For
these reasons, it is important to also examine the actual use of leave. As
shown in Table 4-3, approximately 23 percent of workers took either paid
or unpaid leave during a typical week.
28 Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey 2014.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  173

Box 4-2: Why is There Such a Large Difference in Reported
Prevalence Between the American Time Use Survey, the National
Compensation Survey, and the National Study of Employers?
One important reason for the difference between the three surveys
is that employers report in the employer-based surveys that they provide
flexibility for “some” or “most” workers, but do not otherwise indicate
the prevalence. If many employers only provide a benefit to a minority of
their workers, the percent of workers with a benefit will be smaller than
the percent of firms offering the same benefit. In addition, there may be
a difference between an organization’s policies and their implementa‑
tion. The National Study of Employers attempted to address this issue
by asking if the organization “allows employees to…” or “provides the
following benefits or programs…” rather than if it has “written policies.”
However, if workers are unaware that their managers would be willing to
implement such practices, are unaware of such policies, or fear negative
consequences from exercising such options, they will report less avail‑
ability of such arrangements than will their employers.
Second, the National Study of Employers is a survey of employers
in which the respondent is an organization rather than an individual.
As a result, the data describe the formal benefits provided by a typical
employer or how they are interpreted at the organizational level, rather
than how they are experienced by a typical employee. Given that, by
definition, larger employers represent more workers than do smaller
firms, statistics about the average employer may not be representative of
the experiences of the average worker.
The National Compensation Survey is also an employer survey, but
unlike the National Study of Employers, it is weighted by the number of
employees in a firm, so larger firms are given more weight. As such, the
study reports statistics about the share of employees who are covered
by a policy, not the share of employers who offer one. Also unlike the
National Study of Employers, it only inquires about formal leave policies.
The American Time Use Survey (ATUS), in contrast, is based on
employee responses to whether they are able to access leave and flexible
work arrangements, and therefore captures informal policies and fungi‑
bility across different types of benefits. This survey also captures worker
perceptions about having access to leave. But to the extent employers do
not approve of leave, these statistics overstate the availability of leave.
However, if workers are not informed of their company’s policies, the
ATUS may understate access to leave. Finally, the ATUS data on work‑
ers are from 2011 while those from the employers are from 2014. The
prevalence of such practices may have grown in the interim.

174  |  Chapter 4

Table 4-3
Leave Use and Hours, 2011
Percent Who Used Leave in
Last Week

Hours of Leave Taken
Among Those
Who Used Leave

Access to Paid or Unpaid Leave

23

15.1

Access to Paid Leave

25

15.8

Access to Unpaid Leave

23

15.3

Access to Schedule/Location Changes

21

–

Utilization

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

The most common reasons workers cited for not being able to take
leave included “too much work” (26 percent) and “could not afford loss in
income” (19 percent). An additional 12 percent reported not taking leave
because they feared losing their job (Figure 4-11). Lower-wage workers were
much more likely to cite “could not afford loss of income” as a reason they
did not take desired leave while higher-wage workers were more likely to
cite “too much work.”29 These responses demonstrate that there is unmet
demand for leave policies, especially paid leave for low-income workers.

Workplace Flexibility Access in the United States
Workplace flexibility encompasses a range of policies that, broadly
speaking, enable workers to adjust aspects of work as needed, including
starting and ending time, days of work, and location. Many workplaces are
able to accommodate some flexibility in scheduling, particularly when it
concerns occasional changes in starting and quitting times. As shown below,
81 percent of employers report allowing at least some workers to periodically
change their starting and quitting times, within some range of hours, in
2013. This is a slight increase from 2008 and a larger increase from 2005.30
However, only 27 percent of employers allowed most or all employees to do
so, indicating that this is often a benefit for only a few employees. Less than
one-half of employers (41 percent) allowed at least some workers to change
starting and quitting times on a daily basis and only 10 percent said that they
allowed most or all of their workers to do so (Figure 4-12). Only 10 percent
of firms report allowing workers to change their work times essentially at
will or to alter the days on which they work (Figure 4-12).
As with paid leave, there are some differences across employer and
worker responses on this issue. Around 53 percent of employees report that
they have flexibility in when they work, but only 22 percent report flexibility
29 Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey 2011; CEA calculations.
30 Families and Work Institute, National Study of Employers 2005, 2008, and 2014.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  175

Figure 4-11
Reason for Not Taking Needed Leave, 2011

Percent
30

26
25
19

20
15

12

10
5
0

Too Much Work

Fear Loss of Job

Couldn't Afford It

Note: Among workers who reported needing to take leave.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

Percent
90
80

Figure 4-12
Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility
in the Scheduling of Hours, 2014
Some Employees
Most or All Employees

81

70
60
50

27

30

20

10

10
0

43

41

40

10

Periodically Change
Change Starting and
Compress Workweek by
Starting and Quitting Times Quitting Times on a Daily Working Longer Hours on
within Some Range of
Basis
Fewer Days for At Least
Hours
Part of the Year

Note: Survey includes firms with over 50 employees.
Source: Families and Work Institute, National Study of Employers, 2014.

176  |  Chapter 4

Percent
60

Figure 4-13
Percent of Workers with Access to
Flexible Work Arrangements, 2011
56

53

50

40
30

22

20
10
0

Scheduling

Location

Scheduling or Location

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

in where they work (Figure 4-13). Flexibility in hours worked is more com‑
mon for part-time workers at 56 percent (Bond, Galinsky, and Sakai 2008).
In addition, though there is little data on the issue, there are anecdotal
reports that low-wage workers face unpredictable schedules that they have
little control over (Kantor 2014).
Flexibility in work location is less common than flexibility in either
work days or hours, and there is substantial variation across industries and
occupations. At least some of this difference is likely attributable to the
fact that many jobs practically require an individual to be physically pres‑
ent at the worksite. For example, teachers, sales clerks, and assembly-line
workers cannot fulfill many of their obligations from an off-site location.
Managers and members of teams may need face-to-face contact. For other
workers, however, a substantial fraction of their work could, in principle, be
conducted from home or a satellite office. As a likely result of these factors,
about 9 percent of workers in mining occupations report access to location
flexibility, compared to over 40 percent of workers in information services.31
One study estimated that, in 2000, more than one-half of all jobs were ame‑
nable to telecommuting, at least on a part-time basis (Potter 2003), and that
fraction has likely increased since then as a result of the spread of high-speed
Internet and mobile technology (Smith 2002).
31 Statistics in this section are from Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey
2011; CEA calculations, unless otherwise specified.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  177

While many employers allow some workers to telecommute, the vast
majority of employers limit which employees have access to this option.
As shown in Figure 4-14, 67 percent of employers reported allowing some
workers to work at home occasionally, while only 8 percent of employers
allowed most or all of their employees to do so (Figure 4-14). Similarly, 38
percent reported having some workers who worked from home on a regular
basis, but only 3 percent had all or most of their employees based out of their
home (Bond, Galinksy, and Sakai 2008).
In 2011, about 12 percent of workers who had access to flexible work
arrangements changed either their schedule or location in the previous week.
Of those who utilized workplace flexibility, about 22 percent changed their
location. College-educated workers who used flexibility were more likely
than less-educated workers to change their location (31 percent compared
to 12 percent), and men were slightly more likely to change their location
than were women. Men’s greater access to flexibility in workplace location is
partially due to differences in the industries and occupations in which men
and women work.32 About 6 percent of workers who used flexible arrange‑
ments combined location flexibility with scheduling flexibility.
Flexibility can also be used to help workers reduce the hours they need
to work to stay in their jobs; for example, through job sharing. In 2014, 29
percent of employers reported allowing some workers to share jobs, and 36
percent reported allowing at least some individuals to move from full-time
to part-time work, and back again, while remaining at the same position or
level (Figure 4-15). Few firms allowed most or all employees to take advan‑
tage of these forms of flexibility (Matos and Galinsky 2014).

Disparities in Access to Paid Leave and Flexible Work
Arrangements
Lack of access to paid leave or flexible work arrangements may, as
has been suggested, relate to industry-specific practices or job requirements.
However, this translates into uneven access across demographic and other
worker characteristics, since those factors often correlate with job and sector
choice. Family-friendly workplace policies are often a form of compensa‑
tion, and groups that are more likely to be highly compensated are also more
likely to have access to these policies. Evaluations have found that total com‑
pensation inequality (for example, access to health benefits and paid leave)
was about 10 percent higher than wage inequality alone, and unequal leave
access accounted for over one-third of this additional gap (Pierce 2010).
32 In order to see if differences in industry and occupation explained men being more likely to
change their location, CEA regressed likelihood to switch on gender, industry, and occupation.

178  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-14
Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility in the Location of Work, 2014

Percent
80

Some Employees
Most or All Employees

67

70
60
50

38

40
30
20

8

10
0

3

Work Some Regular Paid Hours at Home Work Some Regular Paid Hours at Home
Occasionally
on a Regular Basis

Note: Survey includes firms with over 50 employees.
Source: Families and Work Institute, National Study of Employers, 2014.

Figure 4-15
Percent of Firms Offering Flexibility in the
Number of Hours of Work, 2014

Percent
90

Some Employees
Most or All Employees

74

80
70
60
50
40

47
36

29

30
20
10

0

54

18
6
Move Between Fulland Part-Time Work
While Remaining in
the Same Position or
Level

1
Share Jobs

Return to Work
Gradually After
Childbirth or
Adoption

Phase into
Retirement by
Working Reduced
Hours Prior to Full
Retirement

Note: Survey includes firms with over 50 employees.
Source: Families and Work Institute, National Study of Employers, 2014, as analyzed in Matos and
Galinsky (2014).

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  179

Box 4-3: Small Business and Manufacturing
Small Businesses. Some argue that while flexible scheduling may
work in large firms, each member of a small business team can be critical
to business operations, making it too costly to implement such practices
in small firms. However, flexibility can be a great advantage to small
firms which may be better able to understand the flexibility needs of each
of their employees and come up with a solution that benefits both the
business and workers. Moreover, since flexibility can increase retention
it may be particularly helpful for small businesses as losing members
of a small business team can be particularly costly. In fact, data shows
that small firms (50 to 99 employees) provide more flexibility to their
employees than do large firms (1,000 and more employees) across five
dimensions of flexibility: changing starting and quitting times, working
some regular hours at home occasionally, having control over when to
take breaks, returning to work gradually after childbirth or adoption,
and taking time off during the workday to attend to important family or
personal needs without loss of pay. (Matos and Galinsky 2014).
Manufacturing. Manufacturing workers are less likely to have
flexible work arrangements. This difference may be due to technological
difficulties that limit the amount of flexibility manufacturing firms can
give their workers. For firms that rely on formal shifts, employees may
not be able to leave at non-standard times without disrupting their col‑
leagues. In addition, the on-site physical nature of many manufacturing
jobs may make telecommuting impossible. Despite these challenges,
there are strategies that some manufacturing companies have used to
increase workplace flexibility. Increasing the breadth of training can help
ensure that workers can more effectively fill in or otherwise compensate
for one another in case a worker cannot be present at a particular time.

Data do show substantial cross-industry differences in access to flex‑
ible scheduling. As shown in Figure 4-16, less than 40 percent of workers in
construction and transportation and utilities have flexibility to change their
hours or location, compared to about 70 percent in information and leisure
and hospitality.
Paid leave access appears to be strongly related to the pay level of the
industry, with high-wage industries offering more benefits. For example,
in the leisure and hospitality sector where the average hourly wage is about
$14, less than 25 percent of workers report having some form of paid leave,
compared to almost 80 percent of workers in the financial-activities sector
(Figure 4-17). In some industries, corporate culture may affect workers’
willingness to take significant leave, suggesting that factors other than
180  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-16
Access to Scheduling and Location Flexibility by Industry, 2011
Leisure and Hospitality

Information

Wholesale and Retail Trade

Professional and Business Services
Financial Activities
Other Services

Public Administration

Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting

Manufacturing

Mining

Educational and Health Services
Transportation and Utilities

Construction
0

20

40
Percent

60

80

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

Figure 4-17
Access to Paid and Unpaid Leave by Industry, 2011
Access to Unpaid Leave

Access to Paid Leave

Leisure and Hospitality
Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting
Construction
Other Services
Wholesale and Retail Trade
Mining
Professional and Business Services
Information
Educational and Health Services
Transportation and Utilities
Manufacturing
Financial Activities
Public Administration
0

20

40

60
Percent

80

100

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  181

Table 4-4
Access to Leave and Workplace Flexibility by Demographic, Educational, and
Worker Characteristics, 2011

Policy Type
Total

Percent
Percent Flexibility in
Percent
Percent Access to
Percent
Flexibility in
Percent
the
Access to
Unpaid Scheduling of Flexibility in the Location
Any
Paid Leave Leave
Hours
Days Worked
of Work
Flexibility
59

77

49

40

22

54

Demographic Characteristics
Male

60

75

49

38

23

53

Female

57

78

48

42

21

55

White, Non-Hispanic

62

78

51

41

24

56

Black, Non-Hispanic

61

77

43

38

18

49

Asian, Non-Hispanic

62

72

54

44

31

60

43

71

39

34

15

45

Hispanic

Educational Attainment (Workers 25 and Older)
Less than High School

35

70

27

28

12

32

High School

61

76

39

32

13

45

Some College
Bachelor's Degree or
Higher

66

78

50

40

19

55

71

75

56

40

35

60

$0-$540

49

76

39

36

13

45

$541-$830

76

78

43

30

14

47

$831-$1,230

80

73

45

31

23

49

$1,230+

81

75

56

37

39

60

Weekly Earnings (Quartiles, 2011$)

Hours Worked
Full-Time

70

75

47

35

23

51

Part-Time

22

81

56

59

20

64

Note: Sample excludes self-employed workers. Weekly earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers with one job.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2011; CEA calculations.

compensation level alone are relevant for leave access and use (Bernard
2013).
Table 4-4 shows differences in reported workplace flexibility by
worker characteristics and type of flexibility. The 2011 American Time
Use Survey inquired about specific types of workplace flexibility workers
can access. In general, workers who are likely to report flexibility in their
schedule are also more likely to report having access to flexibility in where
they do their work.
There are modest disparities in access to unpaid leave across demo‑
graphic groups, likely because not all workers are covered under the Federal
182  |  Chapter 4

Box 4-4: January 2015 Presidential Initiatives to
Expand Leave Access for Federal Employees
While most Federal employees have access to paid sick leave
and vacation time, the government has fallen behind industry-leading
companies and offers no paid family or parental leave. Often Federal
employees have not been on the job long enough to have accrued enough
leave upon the introduction of a new child into the home. In order to
recruit and retain the best possible workforce, the President announced
in January 2015 several initiatives he is taking to help expand access to
paid parental leave for Federal employees.
Presidential Memorandum Modernizing Federal Leave Policies
for Childbirth, Adoption, or Foster Placement. The President issued a
Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to update their policies to
allow for the advance of six weeks of paid sick leave for parents or those
caring for ill family members and other sick leave eligible uses. This will
allow mothers, spouses, and partners with a new child the opportunity
to take paid time off, even if they have not yet accrued enough sick
leave. It will also allow both parents to attend proceedings relating to
the adoption of a child. Advanced annual leave is to be made available
to employees for placement of a foster child in their home. Finally, it
directs agencies to consider providing access to affordable emergency
backup dependent care services for up to five days a year, consistent with
available resources.
Parental Leave Proposal for Federal Employees. The President’s
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget includes a legislative proposal that would
expand access to paid parental leave for Federal employees by offering
six weeks of paid administrative leave for the birth, adoption, or foster
placement of a child. In addition, the proposal would clarify that new
parents can use sick days to care for a healthy newborn or newly adopted
or fostered child. (Adoptive parents are already entitled to use sick days
for other purposes related to the adoption of a child under the Federal
Employees Family Friendly Leave Act).

Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees access to unpaid leave for
workers that are covered by the law. Disparities in access to paid leave are
typically more substantial. The largest differences in access to paid leave and
workplace flexibility occur across Hispanics and non-Hispanics, with only
43 percent of Hispanics having access to paid leave compared to 62 percent
among non-Hispanic Whites. This disparity is not fully explained by differ‑
ences in the industries and occupations that Hispanics and non-Hispanics
work in, nor is it fully explained by differences in wages and education.
Accounting for differences in industry, occupation, wages, and education
The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  183

accounts for less than half of the difference in paid leave access between
Hispanics and non-Hispanics.33
Higher-wage workers are significantly more likely to have access to
paid leave compared to lower-wage workers, consistent with the finding
above that higher-paying industries also offer more paid leave (Table 4-4).
Employee surveys suggest that college-educated workers are twice as likely
to have access to paid leave as workers without a high school degree (71
percent versus 35 percent). Comparing wage levels, full-time workers in the
top income quartile are 1.7 times as likely to have access to paid leave as the
workers in the bottom quartile (81 percent versus 49 percent). Therefore,
the unequal availability of paid leave can exacerbate not only compensation
inequality, but also inequality in well-being, since the highest-income work‑
ers are most likely to have access to policies that enable them to balance work
and family.

State and Local Initiatives to Expand
Access to Work-Family Friendly Policies
Beyond employers voluntarily providing access to paid leave for
employees, some State and local governments have moved to expand
access to family-friendly policies to all workers, spurred in part by worker
demand for these policies, but also because some businesses recognize the
value in a set of consistent policies for all workers. In fact, the vast majority
of businesses see either positive or no effect from State paid leave policies
(Appelbaum and Milkman 2011).

State Paid Family Leave
Currently three states have implemented paid family leave programs
(Table 4-5). In addition, Washington State has passed paid leave legisla‑
tion, but has not yet implemented the program. A number of states are
also considering the feasibility of similar programs.34 For example, in 2014
the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $500,000 in competitive Paid Leave
Analysis Grants to the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Montana, and
Rhode Island to study the feasibility of state-wide paid leave programs. The
grantees were selected from a larger pool of applicants. The Department of
Labor announced in January 2015 that it will offer $1 million in new funding
33 To conduct this analysis, CEA examined the relationship between access to leave and
worker characteristics. After controlling for wages, education, industries, and occupations, 53
percent of the difference in access to leave between Hispanics and non-Hispanics remained
unexplained.
34 According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, around 20 states have
pending legislation on some kind of paid leave program.

184  |  Chapter 4

Table 4-5
State Leave Policies as of January 2015
State

Type

Year Effective

Duration

Implementation

Approximately 55
percent, maximum
of $1,104 per
week

Replacement Rate

California

Family Leave

2004

6 weeks

Temporary
Disability
Insurance

New Jersey

Family Leave

2009

6 weeks

Temporary
Disability
Insurance

66 percent,
maximum of $604
per week

Rhode Island

Family Leave

2014

4 weeks

Temporary
Disability
Insurance

Around 60
percent, maximum
of $770 per week

Sick Leave

2012

5 days

Paid by employers

100 percent

Connecticut

Paid by employers

100 percent

Massachusetts
District of
Columbia

Sick Leave

2015

40 hours

Paid by employers

100 percent

Sick Leave

2008

3-7 days

Paid by employers

100 percent

California

Sick Leave

2015

3 days

Source: California Employment Department; New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Rhode Island
Department of Labor and Training; California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (2014); Connecticut
Department of Labor (2014); Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; District of Columbia (2008, 2013).

for the program, which could provide competitive grants to an additional 6
to 10 states or municipalities.
California implemented paid family leave in 2004. Under California
law, paid family leave benefits are available to almost all workers. The pro‑
gram provides six weeks of paid family leave at approximately 55 percent of
usual weekly earnings with a maximum weekly benefit of $1,104 as of 2015,
which is indexed to the State’s average weekly wage. The paid family leave
program was developed as a component of the existing temporary disability
insurance system. The system is funded through a payroll tax which is 0.9
percent of the first $104,378 of an employee’s State Disability Insurance (SDI)
taxable wages in 2015 (California Employment Development Department).
This tax funds both the temporary disability insurance system and the paid
leave system. By implementing paid leave through the existing disability
insurance system, California was able to capitalize on their existing admin‑
istrative and revenue collection institutions. Businesses may alternatively
choose to cover employees through a voluntary plan that provides coverage,
rights, and benefits that are at least as good as the state-mandated plan,
with at least one greater right or benefit than provided by the State plan.
Businesses choosing voluntary plans must also get the agreement of the
majority of their employees.
Pew estimates that 1.5 million workers have used the California Paid
Family Leave program since its inception (Pew Charitable Trusts 2014).
The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  185

Because California enacted its policy a decade ago, some evidence on the
policy’s impacts in that state is available. Following implementation of the
program, most businesses reported no negative effect on profitability. A
survey of 253 employers affected by California’s paid family leave initiative
found that the vast majority—over 90 percent—reported no negative effect
on profitability, turnover, or morale (Appelbaum and Milkman 2011).
Empirical research also found that California’s leave policy increased hours
worked and earnings among mothers with one- to three-year-old children
by up to 10 percent, particularly among lower-wage mothers who were
unlikely to be able to afford to take unpaid leave (Rossin-Slater, Ruhm, and
Waldfogel 2013).
New Jersey became the second state to provide its workers with access
to paid family leave in 2009. The New Jersey program also piggybacks off of
the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance program to create Family Leave
Insurance. All employees in New Jersey whose employers are subject to
the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation law are covered regardless
of the number of employees. Workers contribute 0.09 percent of their first
$32,000 in earnings. Unlike California and Rhode Island, the revenue for
the family leave insurance program is collected through a separate tax rate
from the Temporary Disability Insurance program, although the wage base
is the same as that that is used for both unemployment compensation and
temporary disability insurance. Family Leave Insurance is available to work‑
ers with at least 20 calendar weeks of covered employment and at least $165
a week (or $8,300 annually) in earnings in the 52 weeks preceding leave.
Covered workers are eligible for six weeks of partial wage replacement in
the 12 months after becoming a parent or any time for the care of an ailing
family member. The wage replacement is paid at two-thirds of the worker’s
average weekly wage, up to $604 a week. Employers can also choose to
provide coverage through an approved Family Leave Insurance private plan
and opt-out of the State plan. Private plans must, however, provide benefits
that are at least as generous as the State plan and the cost to the worker can‑
not exceed the payroll tax they would face under the State plan (New Jersey
Department of Labor and Workforce Development).
Rhode Island was the third State to enact paid family leave by extend‑
ing its Temporary Disability Insurance program (which has been in place
since 1942) to create a Temporary Caregiver Insurance program (TCI)
and markedly expand access to paid leave among Rhode Island workers.
TCI became effective at the start of 2014 and provides covered workers
with income support when they take up to four weeks of paid time away
from work to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member. Weekly
Temporary Caregiver Insurance benefits total approximately 60 percent
186  |  Chapter 4

of an employee’s weekly wage up to a maximum of $770.35 Temporary
Caregiver Insurance leverages the benefits of extending the Temporary
Disability Insurance (TDI) program to incorporate new benefits for caregiv‑
ing. Rhode Island covers the additional benefits under the previous payroll
Temporary Disability Insurance Tax of 1.2 percent of a workers’ first $64,200
in earnings. This employee paid tax covers both the TDI program and the
TCI program. Additional benefits may be available to workers with children
under the age of 18 and disabled children over 18. This weekly “dependency
allowance” is paid as the greater of $10 or 7 percent of the standard benefit
rate (Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training).
New York, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico also have temporary disability
insurance systems and could easily implement programs similar to those in
California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Washington was the first state to
pass a paid leave law not administered through a disability insurance pro‑
gram, though it has not yet been implemented due to the lack of a financing
mechanism.

State Paid Sick Leave
At the start of 2014, Connecticut was the only state, along with a few
cities, that guaranteed workers the right to earn paid sick leave. But momen‑
tum was building at both the State and city level. By the end of the year, both
California and Massachusetts had enacted paid sick leave policies, along
with cities such as Eugene, Oregon, San Diego, and Oakland.
In 2008, the District of Columbia passed a paid sick leave law that
provides paid sick leave to workers in most industries who have been with
their employer for at least 90 days. Workers can use sick leave for illness,
preventative care, or services related to domestic violence for themselves or
a family member. The rate of sick leave accrual is based on employer size:
employers with 100 or more employees are required to provide an hour of
paid leave for every 37 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 days, while
employers with fewer than 25 employees must provide an hour of paid sick
leave for every 87 hours worked, to a maximum of 3 days a year (District of
Columbia 2008, 2013).
In 2012, Connecticut implemented legislation that required certain
employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers. The law covers hourly
(non-exempt) workers in the service sector employed by firms with at least
50 employees. Manufacturers and nationally chartered non-profits that
provide recreation, child care, and education are not required to provide
35 Benefits are 4.62 percent of the wages earned in the highest quarter of the base period. For
workers who are earning a steady salary over the quarter this is approximately 60 percent of
their weekly wages.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  187

paid leave, and per diem and temporary workers are also not covered
(Connecticut Department of Labor 2014). While only about 12 to 24 percent
of Connecticut’s workers are covered due to the many exceptions, most
part-time workers were covered (Appelbaum et al. 2014). Covered workers
in Connecticut earn an hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to
a total of 40 hours of paid leave (5 days) in a calendar year. In addition to
personal illness, workers are able to use this leave to care for a sick spouse, a
sick child, or if they are a victim of family violence or sexual assault.
The California legislature passed paid sick leave legislation in
September 2014. After July 1, 2015, all employers will be required to provide
paid sick leave. Employees are eligible after working 30 days for an employer
in California. Employees accrue at least an hour of sick leave for every 30
hours worked, which employers may limit to 3 days a year. In contrast to the
laws in the District of Columbia and Connecticut, the California legislation
extends to both small- and large-employers, but exempts some in-home
service providers and some employees who are covered by collective bar‑
gaining arrangements. Like both the District of Columbia and Connecticut,
California employees will be able to use paid sick leave to care for themselves
or family members (California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic
Development 2014; Kalt 2014).
In November 2014, Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative requir‑
ing employers with at least 11 employees to offer paid sick leave (workers
at smaller employers can take unpaid leave as provided for in the law).
Workers earn at least an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a
maximum of 40 hours a year. Workers can use this earned leave for illness or
injury affecting the employee or his or her child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s
parent (or to attend routine medical appointments for the same group), or
to address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or his or her
dependent child. CEA estimates that, as of May 2015 when it becomes effec‑
tive, approximately 90 percent of Massachusetts employees will have access
to paid sick leave (Longitudinal Business Database 2012).36
Cities across the country have also enacted statutes providing covered
employees with the opportunity to accrue paid sick leave. These include San
Francisco; Oakland; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New York City; Jersey City;
and Newark. In addition, there are active campaigns in around 20 other
States and cities to make paid sick leave mandatory. However, at least 10
States have legislation barring cities and counties from passing their own
paid sick leave legislation.
36 According to the Business Dynamics Survey, approximately 10.0 percent of employees in
Massachusetts were employed at firms with 1-9 workers in 2012.

188  |  Chapter 4

Right-to-Request Provisions
One way to help workers gain access to flexibility in the workplace is
to make it easier for workers to simply ask for these benefits. This practice
is spelled out in “right-to-request” policies, which lay out the circumstances
and procedures by which workers can ask their supervisors to consider alter‑
native work arrangements to meet their needs for flexibility. Workers may
be hesitant to enquire about their employer’s flexible scheduling policies
because they fear this request will reflect poorly upon them or cause them
to lose their job. One-fifth of American adults, and more than one-third
of working parents and caregivers, report that they believe they have been
denied a promotion, raise, or new job because they need a flexible work
schedule (Nielsen 2014). In addition, anecdotal evidence—particularly from
the service and retail sectors—suggest that even part-time employees can
be penalized for requesting limits on their availability (Greenhouse 2014).
Right-to-request laws attempt to reduce punitive behavior by employers
when workers make a scheduling request. Under right-to-request laws,
employers cannot retaliate against an employee who requests a flexible work
arrangement. In addition, the laws create an incentive for employers to
consider implementing flexible workplace policies.
Some local and State governments in the United States have already
implemented right-to-request laws (Table 4-6). In 2013, San Francisco
passed the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, which allows some work‑
ers to request flexible or predictable working arrangement to help meet their
responsibilities in caring for children, elderly parents, or relatives with seri‑
ous health conditions (City and County of San Francisco 2013). Vermont
passed similar legislation that allows workers to request workplace flexibility
for any reason (Vermont State Legislature 2013). These laws do not require
the employer to accept the request; they only require employers to consider
the requests, provide a written response, and not retaliate against workers
for making such requests. Employers are able to deny requests that would
negatively affect business performance or impose high business costs (City
and County of San Francisco 2013; Vermont State Legislature 2013). As
these policies were implemented recently, there is not yet empirical data on
how businesses and employees have responded.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and
Australia, have also adopted right-to-request laws.37 Most requests are
submitted by those with child care responsibilities and, in its early years of
37 Under the “Act of Part-Time and Fixed-Term Contracts” (§ 8 TzBfG), employees in
Germany who have been working for more than 6 months at a company with more than 15
employees can request to switch to part-time work. This request can only be declined for
“business reasons.” See Foster and Sule (2010).

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  189

Box 4-5: Japan’s Strategy to Grow the Economy
by Increasing Women’s Involvement
Japan has experienced decades of low growth. In response, Prime
Minister Shinzō Abe has developed a strategy to put Japan back on a
path to sustained growth. An important part of this strategy is creating a
society in which women are supported in taking a more substantial role
in work and decision making. Currently, many Japanese women must
choose between career and family. As a result, the labor force participa‑
tion rate among prime-age Japanese women has recently been well below
that of other developed countries. It is currently around 74 percent,
about 22 percentage points below that of Japanese men and about 2
percentage points above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD) average. However, female labor force par‑
ticipation in Japan has risen about 7 percentage points since 2000. The
focus on women’s participation in Japan began in earnest in the last
three years, and since 2011 there has been a notable uptick in female
labor force participation.
The Abe policies are focused on creating a more broadly inclusive
professional environment for women in Japan, with the goal of increas‑
ing economic growth by taking greater advantage of the talents of women
in the labor market and government. The International Monetary Fund
(IMF) estimates that increasing female labor force participation in Japan
could add another 0.25 percent to growth each year and raise income per
capita by 4 percent.
One avenue that the government is pursuing to raise female labor
force participation is child care. Under Abe, the government is creating
400,000 new spaces in nursery schools to eliminate child care waiting
lists and provide more high quality care and thereby enable women who
want to continue to work after starting a family to do so. Currently,
60 percent of Japanese women leave work when they have their first
child. Other policies include initiatives to increase the representation of
women in leadership positions to 30 percent by 2020 and to encourage
private businesses to add at least one woman to their boards. Japan
provides 14 weeks of paid maternity leave at roughly two-thirds of pay
and an additional 44 weeks of paid parental leave which makes it around
average in the OECD for total leave available to mothers (OECD 2014).
Japan also provides protections for pregnant workers: pregnant workers
or workers who just had a baby cannot be assigned to work injurious to
pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and related matters (ILO 2014). These
policies can provide important lessons for U.S. policy makers, in consid‑
ering how to raise female labor force participation.

190  |  Chapter 4

Table 4-6
Local Right to Request Laws
Locality

Date Effective

Covered Workers

Flexibility Uses

San Francisco
(City and
January 1, 2014
County)

Workers who have
worked for their
current employer for
at least 6 months and
who work at least 8
hours per week on a
regular basis.
Employers with fewer
than 20 employees are
exempt.

Caring for a child
under the age of 18,
a relative with a
serious health
condition, and/or a
parent older than
65.

Vermont

Workers can
request flexible
All public and private work arrangements
sector workers.
or predictable
schedules for any
reason.

January 1, 2014

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must meet with
the employee and respond
to the request within 21
days of the meeting. Any
denial must be in writing
and describe the business
reason for the denial.

Employers must consider
requests at least twice a
year. Employers may deny
if the request poses costs to
the business.

Source: City and County of San Francisco (2013); Vermont State Legislature (2013).

implementation, employers fully or partially accepted more than 80 percent
of these requests for flexibility (Georgetown University Federal Legislation
Clinic 2006). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the percentage of employers offering
workplace flexibility increased after the implementation of these laws. In
the United Kingdom, for example, more than 90 percent of employers have
flexible work arrangements in the workplace; only 50 percent of employers
reported such arrangements in 1999 (NACEW 2013).
U.K. employers have realized business benefits from flexible work
arrangements, including improved employee relations, better recruitment
and retention, lower absenteeism, and increased productivity (NACEW
2013). The right-to-request law there was recently expanded to cover all
workers, regardless of parent or caregiver status (Gov. UK 2014). The evi‑
dence suggests that right-to-request laws make it easier and more likely for
employees to ask for and obtain flexible work arrangements. Flexible work
arrangements can also lead to working environments better matched to
employees’ needs and a more productive workforce for employers.
The Administration recognizes that the benefits of workplace flexibil‑
ity programs can only be realized if workers feel comfortable asking for them.
With that understanding, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum
in June 2014 encouraging every agency in the Federal Government to
expand flexible workplace policies as much as possible. The memorandum
also makes it clear that Federal workers have the right-to-request a flexible
The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  191

work arrangement without fear of retaliation. As a result, Federal agencies
will periodically make their employees aware of the workplace flexibilities
available to them and remind them that they may request any of those flex‑
ibilities without fear of retaliation. Supervisors must consider these requests
carefully, confer with requesting employees, and render decisions in a timely
fashion. Since workers may be unaware of their options with respect to
workplace flexibility or the circumstances under which they are permitted
to use them, this step will enable Federal employees to better balance their
personal and professional obligations by providing clarity on those issues.
By instructing agencies to extend their flexibility policies and encour‑
aging workers to request schedules that fit their needs, this memorandum
builds on previous efforts to promote workplace flexibility in the Federal
government. For example, increased telecommunication capacities devel‑
oped in part under President Bill Clinton’s direction have enabled Federal
employees to work remotely through adverse weather situations. Workers’
ability to change their work location has resulted in significant cost savings.
For example, during the winter of 2009-10, telecommuting capabilities saved
over $30 million for every day the Federal government was closed due to
heavy snow, for a total savings of more than $150 million (CEA 2010).

The Economic Case for FamilyFriendly Workplace Policies
Paid leave and workplace flexibility hold great potential to benefit
businesses as well as our economy overall through improved economic pro‑
ductivity. A body of research finds that these practices can benefit employers
by improving their ability to recruit and retain talent, lowering costly worker
turnover, and minimizing loss of firm-specific skills and human capital, as
well as by boosting morale and worker productivity. The following subsec‑
tions present evidence on the impacts of paid leave and workplace flexibility
on absenteeism and worker health, two dimensions of workforce quality
performance about which there is a great deal of information, and then
turn to the broader literature on other aspects of workforce performance,
including turnover. Taken together, these two strands of research suggest
that work-family friendly policies have significantly improved worker per‑
formance in firms and industries that have tried them.
While many companies do offer these benefits, many other companies
do not: as previously shown, fewer than one-third of full-time workers have
flexibility in their hours worked and less than one-half of workers have
access to any kind of paid leave. The question of why these policies have not

192  |  Chapter 4

reached more workers is an important one, and the literature offers several
explanations, reviewed in the sections below.

Impact of Leave and Flexibility on Worker Health and
Absenteeism
Both paid leave and workplace flexibility policies can improve worker
health, and workplace flexibility can reduce absenteeism. Improved worker
health may indirectly improve productivity and morale, as healthy workers
are able to work to their full potential.
Paid sick leave creates a healthier work environment by encouraging
workers to stay home when they are sick, making them less likely to infect
others and cause further productivity losses. For example, a study showed
that employee absences fell more rapidly after the peak of the 2009 H1N1
pandemic among public sector workers (who had much higher access to
paid sick leave) compared to private sector workers who were much less
likely to have paid sick leave (Drago and Miller 2010).
Evidence suggests that, on net, paid sick days do not lower business
profits. A survey of 253 employers affected by California’s paid leave initia‑
tive found that around 90 percent reported no negative effect on profitability
(Appelbaum and Milkman 2011). Another study examining the implemen‑
tation of San Francisco’s paid sick leave law in 2007 found no evidence of
a negative economic effect. Relative to surrounding areas that did not have
a paid sick leave law, total employment and the total number of businesses
increased in San Francisco after the law’s implementation (Petro 2010). In
addition, a study of 251 employers in Connecticut after that State imple‑
mented a paid sick leave program found that employees did not abuse the
policy by taking unnecessary sick days (Appelbaum 2014).
Research suggests that paid parental leave policies can provide health
benefits that extend to children, such as higher birth weight and lower infant
mortality. There are several channels through which improved health can
occur. With paid leave, parents can better monitor their children’s health
(Ruhm 2000). In particular, Rossin-Slater (2011) found that, among collegeeducated mothers, an expansion of unpaid leave increased birth weight and
decreased premature births and infant mortality. The existing evidence on
child development emphasizes the importance of the early childhood and
prenatal environment, so benefits of better health in infanthood are likely
to persist as children age (Almond and Currie 2011). In support of this
hypothesis, a study of Norway’s maternity leave reform found children
whose mothers were eligible for extended maternity leave had higher educa‑
tional attainment, lower teen pregnancy rates, higher IQ scores, and higher
adulthood earnings (Carneiro, Loken, and Salvanes 2011). In addition, more
The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  193

paternity leave taken at birth is associated with fathers being more involved
in child care nine months later, which has benefits for both the child and the
mother (Nepmonyaschy and Waldfogel 2007).
Flexible work arrangements can also improve worker health. A work‑
place intervention conducted at 12 Midwestern grocery stores found that
workers supervised by family supportive managers reported improved phys‑
ical and mental health (Work, Family, and Health Network 2008a). Another
study found that a workplace intervention at a retail company to allow
employees greater control over their work schedule resulted in employees
being less likely to report feeling obligated to come to work, or not see a
doctor, when they were sick. The intervention also improved sleep quality
and energy and reduced psychological stress (Work, Family, and Health
Network 2008b).
Workplace flexibility can also help reduce absenteeism, which can be
costly to a firm by creating uncertainty over the workforce size and com‑
position that a manager can expect on any given day. In companies where
multiple workers perform similar tasks, workers can help compensate for
missing colleagues. In smaller firms or firms where each worker’s job is
different and critical to a company’s mission, however, unplanned absences
may be especially costly. Studies that follow workers as they switch between
firms that offer a flexible work schedule (such as work-at-home options)
to those that did not found that workers tended to miss work more often
in firms without flexible arrangements (Dionne and Dostie 2007; Yasbek
2004; Comfort, Johnson, and Wallace 2003; Akyeampong 2001). Perhaps the
most compelling study of the impact of workplace flexibility on absenteeism
comes from within a large public utility that temporarily allowed workers
in one of its sub-units to choose their working hours without changing the
total number of hours worked. The other sub-units retained the standard
scheduling. The sub-unit with a flexible schedule reported a reduction
in absences of more than 20 percent, while the absenteeism rate in other
sub-units essentially remained unchanged (Figure 4-18; Dalton and Mesch
1990). When the company reverted back to standard scheduling for all of
the sub-units after a one-year trial, the absenteeism rates of the two sub-unit
groups became, once again, similar.
A recent Gallup Poll (2013) estimates that the annual cost of work‑
force absences due to poor health was $84 billion. If the findings in Dalton
and Mesch (1990) generalize across industries, and if all of this reduction

194  |  Chapter 4

Figure 4-18
Average Absence Rates With and Without
Flexible Work Scheduling, 1990

Absence Rate
12
Offered a Flexible Work Schedule
10.1
9.7
10

Not Offered a Flexible Work Schedule
10.3
9.9
9.8

7.8

8
6
4
2

0

Before the Program

During the Program

After the Program

Source: Dalton and Mesch (1990).

translates into lower costs for employers, then the implied savings due to
offering flexibility could be around $17 billion a year.38

The Role of Family-Friendly Policies in Worker Recruitment,
Retention, and Productivity
Paid leave and flexible work arrangements are forms of compensa‑
tion, similar to wages or health and retirement benefits. Employers have
discretion over which benefits to provide to their employees, resulting in
differing compensation “packages.” Economists have long considered the
total wage and benefits “bundle” to be important to workers in selecting
jobs (Bauman 1970; Woodbury 1983; Eberts and Stone 1985; Summers 1989;
Gruber and Krueger 1991; Sheiner 1999; Olson 2002). There is evidence
that workers take into account the entire compensation package—not only
wages—when considering job offers. For example, workers must be paid
higher wages to accept jobs without health insurance, partly to help pay for
their health expenses (CEA 2010). Similarly, analysis of data on 120 employ‑
ers found that, when offered little workplace flexibility, workers require
higher wages to help pay for services such as emergency child care and
38 As discussed earlier, Dalton and Mesch (1990) find that a flexible schedule reduced absences
by more than 20 percent. Applying that percentage to $84 billion translates to savings of about
$17 billion a year.

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  195

eldercare (Baughman, DiNardi, and Holtz-Eakin 2003). These studies show
clearly that workers value family-friendly benefits and that offering these
benefits is a form of compensation. Research shows that higher compensa‑
tion improves business’ ability to attract and retain talent as well as generally
improving worker performance (Dal Bo, Finan, and Rossi 2013; Cappelli
and Chauvin 1991; Akerlof and Yellen 1986; Bewley 1999). Therefore it
is not surprising that firms that offer these benefits have been shown to be
more productive (Bloom, Krestchmer, and Van Reenen 2006; Bloom et al.
2013; A Better Balance 2008; Corporate Voices for Working Families 2005;
NACEW 2013).
In addition to the academic analyses cited above, survey evidence also
indicates that employees highly value access to leave and flexibility. Nearly
one-half of working parents say they have chosen to pass up a job they felt
would conflict with family obligations (Nielsen 2014). As shown in Figure
4-19, a very high share of Americans support such policies, and more than
one-half of workers feel they could do their job better if allowed a more
flexible schedule (Nielsen 2014). In another survey of 200 human resource
managers, two-thirds cited family-supportive policies such as flexible hours
as the single most important factor in attracting and retaining employees
(Williams 2001). Employers that have adopted these practices cite many
economic benefits, such as reduced worker absenteeism and turnover,
improvements in their ability to attract and retain workers, and other
positive changes that translate into increased worker productivity (A Better
Balance 2008; Corporate Voices for Working Families 2005).
Research by Claudia Goldin has focused on a new reason for gender
segregation, particularly in high-skill occupations: highly educated women
are more often choosing career paths in which the wage penalties for flex‑
ibility are smaller—such as dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, and
pharmacy—and where the slowdown in wage growth for small periods of
time out of the labor force is less (Goldin 2014). However, survey evidence
suggests that both men and women value family-friendly workplace policies
and men are increasingly also prioritizing jobs that allow more flexibility or
include paid parental leave. For example, a 2014 survey of high-skilled work‑
ing fathers conducted by researchers at Boston College found that 89 percent
said that the availability of paid paternity leave was an important consider‑
ation in seeking a new job if they planned to have another child. Likewise, 95
percent reported that workplace flexibility policies allowing them to actively
engage with their children were an important job characteristic (Harrington
et al. 2014).
Recruitment and retention are particularly important channels
through which work-family friendly policies can improve productivity and
196  |  Chapter 4

the bottom line for businesses. More successful recruiting means firms can
get the employees they want faster, and improved retention saves the direct
and indirect costs of turnover. These costs can be considerable: for example,
one study found that hiring costs account for more than $2,500 per hire
in large firms, or approximately 3 percent of total annual labor costs for a
full-time equivalent worker.39 Low retention is particularly costly for firms
that extensively train their workers with skills specific to their workplace
(Becker 1964; Mincer 1974; Lazear 2003). One study notes that “visible”
costs such as advertising and orientation costs account for only 10 to 15
percent of total turnover costs (Baughman, DiNardi, and Holtz-Eakin 2003).
But after including costs such as productivity losses related to training new
employees, another study estimates that the median cost of turnover was 21
percent of an employee’s annual salary (Boushey and Glynn 2012). It is not
surprising, therefore, that firms have strong incentives to reduce voluntary
turnovers (Pencavel 1972). Research has shown that firms that invest in

39 The study included more than 300 large organizations. Data referred to the 2007 calendar year.
The average size of the company in the report has annual revenue of $5.7 billion and roughly
17,000 employees. See PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (2009).

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  197

their workforce with higher pay, fuller training, better benefits, and more
convenient schedules outperform their competitors (Ton 2012).
There are several ways that paid leave and flexible work arrange‑
ments can help reduce turnover. A 2011 Gallup Poll found that access
to flexible work arrangements was highly correlated with greater worker
engagement and higher well-being (Harter and Agrawal 2012). In a survey
of 120 randomly selected employers in New York, employers that offered
sick leave and child care assistance had significantly lower rates of turnover
(Baughman, DiNardi and Holtz-Eakin 2003). Other studies report that firms
with more flexible telecommuting practices had lower turnover (Yasbek
2004; Computer Economics 2008). Case studies of firms, highlighted in Box
4-6, also provide qualitative insights into perceived benefits.
Paid parental leave in particular can help businesses retain talented
workers after childbirth. Studies show that paid maternity leave increases
the likelihood that mothers return to their employer following the birth
of a child, and particularly when combined with statutory job protection,
paid maternity leave can increase mothers’ wages and employment in the
long run (Rossin-Slater, Ruhm, and Waldfogel 2013; Waldfogel, Higuchi,
and Abe 1999). At a macroeconomic level, paid leave could contribute to
higher labor force participation and a stronger economy, and can also raise
business profits if the costs of providing paid leave are lower than the costs
of turnover costs.
In addition to the evidence on recruitment and retention, several
studies document a positive relationship between workplace flexibility and
worker productivity. For example, a study of over 700 firms in the United
States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany found a significant positive
relationship between work-life balance practices and total factor productiv‑
ity (Bloom, Krestchmer, and Van Reenen 2006). The authors argue that this
correlation could be driven by a third factor—good management. Wellmanaged firms both have higher productivity and often embrace flexible
workplace practices. But importantly, the study finds no evidence that work‑
place flexibility harms productivity. In a randomized evaluation designed to
eliminate a role for management in affecting worker productivity, call center
employees at a travel agency in China found productivity increased when
workers chose where they worked. When workers were allowed to choose
the optimal place to work based on their preferences and circumstances—
whether from home or the office—productivity increased 22 percent (Bloom
et al. 2013).

198  |  Chapter 4

Box 4-6: Reimagining the Structure of Work at JetBlue
Since the airline’s founding in 2000, JetBlue has followed a flexible,
work-from-home model for nearly all of its 2,000+ customer service
representatives. After initial training, JetBlue crewmembers work from
home and regularly attend monthly and quarterly training sessions
and team meetings at their local Support Center (Salt Lake City or in
Orlando). JetBlue cites the business case for improving workplace flex‑
ibility for its crewmembers, stating that when they can “better attend to
their home life,” it leads to happier and more productive crewmembers
and lower overhead, which leads to lower ticket prices for their custom‑
ers and higher profits and profit sharing for its crewmembers.

The Business Case for Wider Adoption of Flexible Workplace
Practices and Policies
The evidence cited above suggests that paid leave and flexible
work arrangements benefit workers and employers. Workers are happier,
healthier, and more likely to remain with the more flexible firm; for firms,
this means lower turnover, less absenteeism, easier recruiting of talent, and
more productive workers. Yet despite these benefits, many firms have still
not adopted such practices. If these practices generate such large economic
benefits for both workers and firms, why do more workers not already have
access to them?
Researchers have put forth two explanations for this puzzle. One
broad explanation is that managers either are unaware that these policies
can benefit them, or they simply do not have the capacity to implement
these policies. A second explanation posits that firms differ in the benefits
that family-friendly policies can provide, with some firms benefiting greatly
and others much less so. Under this explanation, managers are aware of the
benefits of such practices to their firms, and implementation rates reflect the
fact that only some managers will find it worthwhile to enact these policies.
Research has found considerable evidence for the first of these expla‑
nations. Economists find that lack of information is one factor that may
contribute to the incomplete adoption of the best management practices
(Bloom and Van Reenen 2010). For example, even in manufacturing where
productivity is relatively easily quantified, managers sometimes appear
to fail to make profit-maximizing choices (Romer 2006; Bloom and Van
Reenen 2010; Levitt 2006; Cho and Rust 2010; Bloom, Kretschmer, and Van
Reenen 2006; Yasbek 2004). This may be because it takes time for managers
to learn and incorporate new techniques and policies, or because firms can

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  199

be persuaded to adopt such policies under only intense outside pressure. In
addition, as the labor force changes, the best practices from previous years
may not be best-suited to today’s workforce (Griliches 1957; Cohen and
Levinthal 1990; Levitt and March 1988; Nelson and Winter 1985). If imple‑
menting new work-family policies is costly for firms, adoption may lag, leav‑
ing firms with outdated human resources practices until either labor-market
competition forces a change or until new management arrives.
The second possible explanation holds that costs and benefits of
family-friendly practices may differ across firms. For example, it might be
possible for financial services employees to occasionally work from home,
while it is often infeasible for food service employees. Theory then predicts
that firms and industries with the greatest potential net gains from adopting
flexible practices should be among the first to embrace them. Since existing
studies of the effect of flexible arrangements come from firms that have
already adopted these practices, the evidence presented above may overstate
the economic benefits that some firms without flexible arrangements would
enjoy if such flexibility were widely adopted. On the other hand, if flexible
arrangements were coordinated across firms or part of a Federal program,
costs would be spread out among employers, making such offerings more
beneficial for them. In addition, it would prevent employers who refuse to
provide flexibility to their workers from pricing their goods and services
lower than competitors who do provide flexibility.
However, there is still an economic rationale for why employers and
the U.S. economy could benefit from wider adoption of flexible workplace
practices. Promoting work-life balance may help society in ways that are
not taken into account by either employers or employees (what economists
call social benefits or positive externalities). For example, some economic
models have emphasized that firms may be reluctant to offer benefits pack‑
ages that are particularly attractive to workers for whom the benefits are
most costly to provide. The classic example is health insurance, which may
attract the sickest workers. If a similar dynamic operates with flexible work‑
place arrangements, then too few employers may offer such arrangements
and those that do will pay a higher cost. Summers (1989) explains this as
an example of asymmetric information. Suppose that providing the benefit
is costly and that a firm does not have accurate information about an indi‑
vidual’s probability of using the benefit. A firm-offered benefit attracts the
workers who value it most. If the benefit is most costly to provide to these
workers, the firm’s cost of offering the benefit will increase. The cost would
be lower if all firms offered the same benefit, allowing more workers to ben‑
efit from the increased flexibility (Levine 1991 provides a related argument).
In addition, on average, adopting flexible practices likely encourages labor
200  |  Chapter 4

force participation among those workers that would otherwise find it too
“costly” to work or invest in workplace skills. For example, Goldin (2006)
documents that as women perceived more options for long-term future
careers, their educational attainment increased. In this way, when potential
workers are better able to envision a long-term attachment to the labor force,
their skill development may increase.
Family-friendly practices can also help encourage better bonding
between parents and children, which has been shown to lead to better out‑
comes for children in adulthood. For instance, researchers have shown that
children of women who receive paid maternity leave earn 5 percent higher
wages at age 30 (Carneiro, Loken, and Salvanes 2011). Enabling workers
who are sick, or who have sick children, to stay home can also benefit others
as illness is more quickly curtailed in schools and the workplace.
In decision making, firms may be best persuaded by evidence of
impacts on other firms’ bottom lines. An innovative paper studying the
impact on firm profits tracked the announcements of new work-life balance
policies (such as dependent care or flexible work arrangements) by Fortune
500 companies in The Wall Street Journal. The paper found that, on average,
firms’ stock prices rose in the days following announcements of work-life
balance initiatives (Arthur 2003). Such evidence indicates that flexible prac‑
tices boost investors’ perceptions of the value of a firm, which may derive
from their beliefs about the impact of the policies on worker productivity.
It may also be due to a perception about the value of working parents and
caregivers in the company and the effect of work-life balance initiatives
on these employees. Greater representation of women in top management
positions is associated with better firm performance on several dimensions
(Catalyst 2004), and research also finds that women can help drive innova‑
tion and better target female customers and employees (Hewlett, Marshall,
and Sherbin 2013).

Conclusion
With women and men increasingly sharing breadwinning and care‑
giving responsibilities, today’s working families need a modern work‑
place—one with workplace flexibility, paid family and sick leave, access to
family-supporting and work-supporting policies like quality child care and
eldercare to allow them to make the choices that best fit their needs. Such
policies lead to higher labor force participation, greater labor productivity
and work engagement, and better allocation of talent across the economy.
The International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development have both identified child care policies and

The Economics of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies  |  201

paid leave as important drivers of female labor force participation (ElborghWoytek et al. 2013). Caregivers will continue to face complex decisions
about whether to combine their caregiving duties with participation in the
labor force, and many will choose to stay out of the labor force or reduce
their work hours in order to best meet the needs of their families. However,
policies should make it easier for those who, by choice or necessity, are
combining caregiving with paid work. Not only are such policies helpful
to parents, but access to policies like paid leave better facilitate children’s
development and therefore their long-run outcomes including higher wages
as adults.
While many employers have already adapted to the changing realities
of the American workforce, there is still a long way to go. More than one-half
of workers believe they could do their jobs better with more flexibility, and
almost one-half of parents say they have passed up a job because of its con‑
flict with family obligations. An increasing share of parents in dual-earner
families report that work interferes with their home life. More than onequarter of workers report that they have no access to any form of leave, even
unpaid; less than one-half of workers have access to paid leave for the birth
or adoption of a child. These numbers also contain important disparities by
ethnicity, income, education, and sector of employment.
As in all business decisions, the critical factors that determine adop‑
tion of a new management strategy are the costs and benefits of a program.
Almost one-third of firms cite costs or limited funds as obstacles to imple‑
menting workplace flexibility arrangements. Yet there is evidence that
adopting workplace flexibility arrangements leads to significant benefits
for employers, in the form of reduced turnover, improved recruitment, and
increased productivity. Implementing these practices may also reduce costs
for employers by improving employee health and decreasing absenteeism.
The wider adoption of such practices would result in benefits to
society (in the form of improved employment outcomes and more efficient
allocation of workers to employers) that may be even greater than the gains
to individual firms and workers. The best available evidence suggests that
encouraging more firms to consider adopting flexible practices can poten‑
tially boost productivity, improve morale, and benefit the U.S. economy as a
whole. To put a number on it, if women’s employment increased enough to
close the male-female employment gap, that would raise GDP by 9 percent.40

40 CEA calculated this number by raising the employment-to-population ratio and work week
for women to the average level for men and applying this to a growth-accounting model that
holds the average product of labor constant. For a similar calculation, see Goldman Sachs
(2007), which estimates an increase of up to 9 percent.

202  |  Chapter 4

C H A P T E R

5

BUSINESS TAX REFORM AND
ECONOMIC GROWTH

T

he U.S. tax system, for both individuals and businesses, is overdue for
reform. On the individual side, the system should do more to encourage
and reward work, increase the accumulation of human capital, and ensure
that economic gains are widely shared. The necessary reforms should also
make the system simpler and more efficient and should reduce the deficit.
Business tax reform should increase productivity, output, and living stan‑
dards—complementing other efforts to improve the productivity of the U.S.
economy, like additional investments in infrastructure. The focus of this
chapter is business tax reform; individual reforms are discussed in Box 5-3.
The U.S. corporate income tax combines the highest statutory rate
among advanced economies with a base narrowed by loopholes, tax expen‑
ditures, and tax planning strategies. In addition to the corporate income tax,
the United States operates a second, parallel system of business taxation for
pass-through entities—businesses whose earnings are taxed on the own‑
ers’ income tax returns rather than a separate entity-level return. The U.S.
system of business taxation allows some companies to avoid significant tax
liability, while others pay tax at a high rate. It distorts important economic
decisions about where to produce, how to finance investments, and what
industries and assets to invest in. The system is also too complicated, and
that complexity hurts America’s small businesses and allows large corpora‑
tions to reduce their tax liability by shifting profits around the globe.
The current system of business taxation reduces productivity, output,
and wages through its impact on the quantity of investment, the location of
production and profits, the means of financing new investments, and the
allocation of investment across assets and industries. The high statutory rate
and complicated rules for taxing income in different countries discourage
locating highly profitable investments in the United States. Reduced invest‑
ment in turn reduces U.S. productivity and output. Loopholes that allow
multinational firms to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions abroad require
203

higher taxes on domestic businesses and families. The significant tax prefer‑
ence for debt encourages excessive borrowing, which in turn increases bank‑
ruptcy costs and financial fragility, and thus reduces macroeconomic stabil‑
ity. Tax expenditures that privilege certain industries and assets encourage
investment in low-return, lightly taxed projects while high-return, heavily
taxed projects are ignored.
Business tax reform can increase the quantity and quality of invest‑
ment in the United States by reducing the economic distortions caused by
disparities in tax rates across jurisdictions, across industries, across assets,
across means of financing, and across different forms of business. The qual‑
ity of investment refers, not to the dollar value of investment expenditure,
but to the kinds of investments American firms make. The quality of invest‑
ment increases when high-return projects are prioritized over low-return
projects. Quality increases when businesses choose to finance their invest‑
ments using the financial products that best share risk, and not those that
generate the largest tax savings. And the quality of investment increases
when firms make decisions to invest in one country instead of another
based on considerations such as the quality of the workforce, the strength of
economic institutions, and the location of customers, rather than where the
tax rates are lowest.
Tax reform is not just about removing policy-induced distortions that
lead to inefficient decisions by businesses. In some carefully delineated cases,
tax policy can play a role in remedying distortions fundamental to private
markets that lead firms to, for example, underinvest in research or clean
energy because the firm does not capture the full economy-wide benefits of
their expenditures. The quality of investment also increases when businesses
recognize the benefits and costs their investments create for others, such as
the spillovers associated with new research insights or the harm associated
with polluting activities.
Improvements in both the quantity and quality of investment increase
productivity and, in doing so, increase American living standards. Since
1948, increases in productivity have more than quadrupled the amount of
output each American worker generates per hour worked. If a worker has
access to the most useful equipment, not the equipment that receives the
best tax treatment, she or he will be able to produce more per hour worked.
If firms pursue all research for which the benefits exceed the costs, workers
will then be able to leverage those new innovations to increase output.
The President’s approach to business tax reform reduces dispari‑
ties in tax rates across jurisdictions, across industries, across assets, across
means of financing, and across different forms of business. In doing so, it
encourages domestic investment and increases the quality of investment
204  |  Chapter 5

and productivity. Specifically, the approach broadens the tax base, lowers
the top corporate rate, and reforms the taxation of income earned abroad. It
moderates the incentives to shift profits to tax havens and encourages highreturn domestic investment. This approach significantly simplifies the tax
system for small businesses and corrects for externalities—benefits and costs
that firms’ actions have on unrelated individuals. In addition, the one-time
revenue that is generated by reform is used to fund a substantial, six-year
increase in public infrastructure investment.
This chapter reviews the role of productivity in long-run growth
and summarizes the international context for business tax reform. It then
describes the President’s approach to business tax reform and examines how
that approach can increase productivity and output. The chapter concludes
with a consideration of alternative approaches to reform.

The Sources of Productivity Growth
Long-term growth in output comes from two sources: increases in
the number of hours worked and increases in the output per hour worked,
otherwise known as labor productivity. Large changes in the quantity of
labor are typically driven by demographic forces such as births, deaths, and
immigration. For example, the movement of the baby boom generation
into retirement will be a major driver of changes in the quantity of labor
in the next decade (Council of Economic Advisers 2014). However, the
longer-term trend in participation will also be affected by Americans’ per‑
sonal choices about family, work, and retirement. Chapter 3 analyzes trend
changes in participation as well as other labor market challenges that may
affect participation decisions. Chapter 4 examines policies affecting partici‑
pation among working families in particular, including paid leave and access
to more flexible work environments.
Labor productivity depends on three factors: labor quality, the
amount of capital workers have at their disposal, and total factor productiv‑
ity (TFP). Labor quality reflects worker characteristics such as education
and experience, which generally allow workers to produce more output per
hour worked. The capital stock is the land, buildings, machinery, and equip‑
ment workers have at their disposal. Increases in the quantity of capital each
worker has at his or her disposal, referred to as capital deepening, also boost
output per hour worked. Lastly, TFP determines the amount of output that
can be produced from a given amount of capital and labor. TFP includes
things like the quality of technology, which allows workers to produce more
with less, as well as other difficult to measure aspects of productivity such as
the quality of the match between a worker and his or her job and workers’

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  205

ability to focus on their work. Put differently, growth in TFP is any increase
in output not accounted for by an increase in inputs. TFP increases with sci‑
entific breakthroughs, organizational innovations, the development of new
applications for existing technologies, and any efficiency improvements not
uniquely associated with a single input. Figure 5-1 shows how each of these
three factors has contributed to productivity growth over the last 60 years,
splitting that growth into the three broad periods discussed in Chapter 1.1
Figure 5-1 contains three important lessons:
Productivity has increased tremendously. On average, workers in
2013 could produce more than four times as much as their counterparts
more than 60 years ago. This four-fold improvement reflects the cumulative
effect of annual productivity growth averaging 2.3 percent each year since
1948. Roughly one-half of the increase in productivity is due to higher TFP,
about 40 percent to workers today having more capital at their disposal, and
about 10 percent to increased education and training.
Annual productivity growth varied substantially over the last 60
years. Productivity growth was especially rapid in the post-war decades,
slowed in the 1970s, and sped up again in the 1990s. As noted in Chapter
1, slower productivity growth since 1973 has had a very large impact on
household incomes—in fact, if the 1948 to 1973 productivity growth rate
had continued, incomes would have been 58 percent higher in 2013.
Variation in the growth rate of productivity is almost entirely due
to variation in the growth rate of TFP. The increase in productivity due to
capital deepening and improvements in labor quality varied only modestly
across the three periods shown in Figure 5-1. However, variations in the
growth rate of TFP were large and economically meaningful. The growth
rate of TFP between 1948 and 1973, at its highest, was more than four times
the growth rate of TFP between 1973 and 1995, at its lowest.

The Historical and International
Context for Business Tax Reform
Since the last major reform of the U.S. system of business taxation in
1986, the international environment has changed significantly. In the early
1980s, the top U.S. statutory corporate income tax rate was close to the
average for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD), an association of developed, market economies (Figure 5-2). The
United States cut the corporate tax rate well below the OECD average in
1 The estimates presented in Figure 5-1 differ slightly from those presented in Chapter 1 as
they rely on a different data series produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

206  |  Chapter 5

Figure 5-1
Sources of Productivity Growth Over Selected Periods, 1948–2013

Percentage Points, Annual Rate
3.5
Total Factor Productivity Growth
Capital Deepening
2.9
3.0
Improved Labor Quality
2.5

Overall

2.4

2.0

1.9

1.1

1.5

1.5

2.3

1.1

0.4

1.0

0.3

0.2
1948-1973

0.0

1.0

0.8

0.9

0.5

1973-1995

0.3

1995-2013

0.9
0.2

1948-2013

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Multifactor Productivity; CEA Calculations.

Figure 5-2
Statutory Corporate Tax Rates in the U.S. and OECD, 1981–2013

Percent
55
50

OECD Weighted Average
(excluding United States)

45
40
United States

2013

35
30
25
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

Source: OECD StatExtracts and World Tax Database; CEA Calculations.

2005

2010

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  207

1986, but other countries soon followed suit and, by 2014, the U.S. rate was
roughly 10 percentage points above the OECD average (Figure 5-3).
This section focuses on international comparisons of corporate
income taxes, as the share of large businesses accounted for by pass-through
entities in the United States is unusually high relative to the share in other
countries; also, the U.S. pass-through regime itself is somewhat atypical
(Treasury 2007). The rates presented reflect corporate income taxes imposed
by both the central government and sub-central government. In the United
States, the Federal statutory corporate tax rate is 35 percent and, after
accounting for their deductibility from Federal taxes, State corporate taxes
increase the rate by 4 percent.
While the top U.S. statutory corporate income tax rate is the highest
among OECD economies, other measures of corporate tax rates show a
different picture. The effective tax rate, which accounts for differences in
the definition of the taxable income across countries, is slightly below the
average for the other large, advanced economies of the G-7 (Figure 5-4).
The effective tax rate is the ratio of corporate taxes paid to pre-tax income.
On average, for the years 2006 to 2009, corporations headquartered in the
United States paid an effective tax rate, aggregated across all countries, of
27.7 percent. The average rate for the G-7 over this period was 29.2 percent.

Percent
40
35
30

Figure 5-3
Statutory Corporate Income Tax Rates, 2014

OECD Weighted Average
(excluding United States): 29.7

25
20

10

Ireland
Slovenia
Czech Republic
Hungary
Poland
Chile
Finland
Iceland
Turkey
Estonia
United Kingdom
Switzerland
Slovak Republic
Sweden
Korea
Denmark
Austria
Netherlands
Greece
Canada
Israel
Norway
Italy
New Zealand
Luxembourg
Australia
Mexico
Spain
Germany
Portugal
Belgium
France
Japan
United States

15

Country

Source: OECD StatExtracs and World Tax Database; CEA Calculations.

208  |  Chapter 5

Figure 5-4
Effective Tax Rates in the G-7, 2006–2009

Percent
45

40
35
30
25
20

38.8
G-7 Weighted Average
(excluding United States): 29.2

21.6

27.7

23.1

29.1

23.6

France

27.9

United
Kingdom

15
10

Canada

United
Germany
Italy
Japan
States
Country
Source: PwC and Business Roundtable (2011); OECD StatExtracts; CEA Calculations.

As with the statutory corporate rate, effective tax rates varied substantially
across countries from a low of 21.6 percent for Canada to a high of 38.8 per‑
cent for Japan. Note, however, that several countries have enacted significant
corporate tax legislation since 2006, including Canada, Germany, Japan, and
the United Kingdom.
Similarly, the U.S. effective marginal tax rate is only modestly above
the average for the other countries of the G-7 (Figure 5-5). The effective
marginal tax rate is the tax rate that would apply to a hypothetical project
earning the minimum required return sufficient to obtain financing. The
U.S. effective marginal tax rate on a domestic investment in 2014 was 23.9
percent, while the average for the other G-7 countries was 20.6 percent.
Importantly, the rates presented in Figure 5-5 exclude the effects of tempo‑
rary policies. For example, the United States has offered a temporary bonus
depreciation provision that allows firms to deduct their investment expenses
more rapidly in every year since 2008, which is excluded from these esti‑
mates. Incorporating bonus depreciation into the analysis would reduce the
estimated effective marginal tax rate on new investment.
Each of these tax rates—the statutory rate, the effective rate, and the
effective marginal rate—are relevant for different economic decisions:
The statutory rate is the amount of additional tax paid on an addi‑
tional dollar of profit without any accompanying changes in deductions
for business expenses. It thus captures the relevant financial incentive for
Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  209

Figure 5-5
Effective Marginal Tax Rates in the G-7, 2014

Percent
30

25
20

G-7 Weighted Average
(excluding United
States): 20.6

20.0

Germany

United
States

France

26.6

21.2

United
Kingdom

24.0

16.0

15
10

23.9

6.9

5
0

Italy

Canada

Country

Japan

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury; OECD StatExtracts; CEA Calculations.

decisions about tax planning strategies that shift profits between countries
without changes in the underlying economic activity. Every dollar of profit
moved from the United States, where it is subject to a 39-percent statutory
rate, to a country with, for example, a 20-percent statutory rate would reduce
corporate taxes by 19 cents.
The effective rate is the total amount of tax paid as a share of pretax income. If a company could relocate the entirety of its operations and
income from one country to another, the effective tax rate would be the rel‑
evant one for making such a decision. However, because firms operate and
pay corporate taxes in multiple countries, effective tax rates would generally
be computed for, and apply to, decisions about locating particular projects
or investments in different countries. The effective tax rate for these discrete
decisions is known as the effective average tax rate and differs for each proj‑
ect depending on its precise characteristics.
The effective marginal rate is the effective rate for a project that gen‑
erates the minimum return sufficient to obtain financing under prevailing
market conditions. It is the relevant tax rate for firms deciding precisely
when to stop scaling up their investment spending under the assumption
that each increase in spending generates a slightly smaller return. Facing
such a decision, firms will stop increasing spending when the last dollar
spent generates a return just large enough to first pay tax at the effective
marginal rate and then to pay investors the required return. This last dollar
210  |  Chapter 5

of investment is known as the marginal dollar of investment, leading to the
label effective marginal rate.
The corporate income tax affects all of these decisions simultaneously,
and the analysis of any potential approach to tax reform must consider its
impact on each of them. Tax reform that seeks lower rates without reduc‑
ing revenue—reform financed by closing loopholes and broadening the tax
base—must prioritize between lowering the statutory rate, the effective aver‑
age rate, and the effective marginal rate, as lowering any one rate reduces
revenue.
The U.S. corporate income tax is often described as a tax on world‑
wide income and therefore out of step with the territorial systems used
elsewhere. A pure worldwide system would tax all income earned anywhere
in the world; in contrast, a pure territorial system would exempt all foreign
income from taxation. In practice, all systems—including the U.S. corporate
income tax—reflect some combination of worldwide and territorial con‑
cepts. While U.S. corporations owe tax on income earned anywhere in the
world, this tax is only due if, and when, foreign earnings are paid to a U.S.
parent company by its foreign subsidiaries. Taxation of foreign earnings can
be deferred indefinitely by keeping the earnings in foreign subsidiaries. This
aspect of the U.S. system is known as deferral and means that, in practice,
the U.S. approach to corporate taxation is far from that of a pure worldwide
system. (For the role of deferral in encouraging the recent wave of corporate
inversions, see Box 5-1.)
Incorporating deferral and other complex rules for the taxation of
U.S. multinationals into the analysis, simulations by Rosanne Altshuler and
Harry Grubert (2013) illustrate how far from a worldwide system the U.S.
corporate income tax is. Their analysis assumes a statutory corporate rate
of 30 percent, but otherwise matches the features of current U.S. law.2 The
simulations show that the effective marginal tax rate on investments by a
hypothetical U.S. multinational in a low-tax country is -24 percent after
accounting for shifting of intangibles, and the effective marginal tax rate on
investments in a high-tax country is 13 percent after accounting for earn‑
ings stripping (Figure 5-6). For these computations, the low-tax country
is assumed to have a statutory rate of 5 percent and the high-tax country
a rate of 25 percent. The activities in each country and the associated tax
planning strategies correspond to typical behavior of U.S. companies in
such countries. These simulations suggest that, though the United States
2 The authors use a 30-percent statutory rate because “[t]here seems to be a growing consensus
that the United States should reduce its corporate statutory rate in response to the dramatic
and continuing decline in corporate statutory rates abroad.” Thus, even though their analysis
does not use the current rate, it is particularly relevant to discussions of the U.S. approach to
taxing multinational corporations in the context of reform.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  211

Figure 5-6
Effective Marginal Tax Rates in Several Tax Systems
40

Worldwide

30

30

Theoretical Territorial

U.S. Current Law at 30 percent rate
30

25

20
10
0
-10

13
5
Investment
in a
Low-Tax
Country

Investment
in a
High-Tax
Country

-20
-30

-24

Source: Grubert and Altshuler (2013).

ostensibly imposes a worldwide tax, the difference in effective marginal
tax rates between high- and low-tax jurisdictions abroad can look more
like a territorial system. Moreover, the tax rates in both high- and low-tax
countries can be well below the rates that would apply under either a true
worldwide system or even a theoretically ideal territorial system unaffected
by base erosion or profit shifting.
Over the last 30 years, the dual challenges of base erosion and profit
shifting have increased significantly (Clausing 2009). Base erosion refers
to the disappearance of corporate income (the tax base) as a result of tax
planning strategies (see Box 5-2). Profit shifting is a particular form of base
erosion in which firms report profits in low-tax jurisdictions rather than in
high-tax jurisdictions, reducing their global tax liability. The revenue loss
attributable to earnings missing from the U.S. corporate tax base as a result
of base erosion may amount to 30 percent of corporate tax receipts (Clausing
2011).
Table 5-1 updates the estimates of Gravelle (2013) that show U.S.
controlled foreign corporation profits in a particular country as a share of
GDP for each country. In 2010, U.S. controlled foreign corporation prof‑
its reported in Bermuda were more than 15 times the size of Bermuda’s
economy. Even in the Netherlands, which has a much larger economy
than Bermuda, U.S. controlled foreign corporation profits amounted to 15
percent of GDP. It is unlikely that the high concentration of U.S. profits for
212  |  Chapter 5

Box 5-1: Corporate Inversions
Under the U.S. corporate income tax system, American firms pay
tax on profits earned anywhere in the world. However, these taxes are
due only if, and when, the money is paid as a dividend to the U.S parent
by its foreign subsidiaries. As a result, American firms have accumulated
as much as $2 trillion of overseas profits. The significant and growing
value of these profits has spurred interest among U.S. firms in finding
ways to use or distribute them without paying tax. One strategy for
avoiding tax is an inversion—a maneuver whereby a U.S. parent firm
merges with a foreign parent, such that the shareholders of the foreign
company own at least 20 percent of the equity in the combined entity,
and then declares that the foreign company is the parent company
for tax purposes. Because the original foreign subsidiaries of the U.S.
firm continue to be subsidiaries of a U.S. firm, such a maneuver does
not exempt their future earnings from tax. However, the new foreign
parent can facilitate financial transactions that provide low-tax access
to the earnings of those subsidiaries. For example, once inverted, the
foreign subsidiaries can lend money directly to the new parent company
without going through the U.S. parent. These transactions are known as
hopscotch loans and, until recently, such loans did not trigger any tax
liability since the funds never pass through the U.S. company.
The benefits of an inversion extend beyond low-tax access to the
earnings of foreign subsidiaries. For example, inversions can also facili‑
tate earnings stripping, a strategy in which firms shift profits that would
be taxed in the United States into other lower-tax countries. One easy way
of accomplishing earnings stripping is for an inverted U.S. corporation
to borrow from its new foreign parent. The interest payments of the U.S.
corporation are deductible at the high statutory rate that applies under
the U.S. corporate tax, and the interest income is taxed to the foreign
parent at its lower rate. Rules that restrict the ability of U.S. corporations
to avoid taxation on passive income abroad limit non-inverted entities’
ability to use this strategy. However, the interest income of the foreign
parent is not subject to these rules; an inverted firm’s ability to use this
strategy is limited only by weaker rules restricting interest deductions.
In September 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a
notice announcing forthcoming regulations that would limit some of the
benefits of inverting. These rules restricted firms’ ability to structure the
hopscotch loan transactions described above, as well as making several
other changes. While these actions make inversions less attractive, legis‑
lation is needed to fully address the incentives to invert—both through
broader reforms that reduce the value of post-inversion tax planning
strategies and specific measures that limit a company’s ability to invert.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  213

The Administration has proposed increasing the ownership thresh‑
old that must be met for a foreign affiliate to become the parent of a U.S.
company through an inversion from the current 20-percent threshold
to a 50-percent threshold. The higher threshold would eliminate inver‑
sions—in which a small foreign company becomes the parent of a large
U.S. company—that are not justified by business considerations other
than the tax benefits.

the countries shown in Table 5-1 reflects the actual business activity of these
firms rather than tax planning.
An important limitation of the international comparisons presented
in this section is that they focus only on taxes imposed on corporate profits.
Other taxes paid by corporations can also significantly affect the profitability
of business investments. In particular, real estate taxes on land and buildings,
property taxes on equipment and inventories, and sales taxes on purchases
of business inputs increase both effective tax rates and effective marginal tax
rates. Incorporating these factors into the analysis tends to increase tax rates
in the United States relative to other countries.
Table 5-1
U.S. Controlled Foreign Corporation Profits Relative to GDP, 2010
Country

Foreign Corporation Profits Relative to GDP
(%)

Bahamas

104

Bermuda

1,578

British Virgin Islands

1,009

Cayman Islands

1,430

Cyprus

13

Ireland

38

Luxembourg

103

Netherlands

15

Netherlands Antilles

25

Source: IRS Statistics of Income; United Nations; CEA calculations.

214  |  Chapter 5

Box 5-2: Base Erosion and Profit Shifting
The related challenges of base erosion and profit shifting hurt
the global economy, weaken government budgets, and heighten public
concern about the equitable distribution of tax burdens. Base erosion
refers to the disappearance of business income (the tax base) as a result
of tax planning strategies. Examples of corporate tax planning strategies
include: exploiting differences in how income or residency is defined by
different countries; choosing low-tax jurisdictions to hold intellectual
property and other assets; and manipulating the terms of intra-firm
transactions to control where earnings are taxed. Profit shifting is one
form of base erosion in which firms shift profits from one, typically hightax country to another, typically low-tax country to reduce their overall,
worldwide tax liability.
Tax planning strategies hurt the global economy because they lead
to socially wasteful expenditures on the accounting, legal, and other
advisory services required to structure the financial transactions and
legal arrangements that minimize tax payments. Reforms that harmonize
the treatment of income and deduction items across countries, as well
as address other harmful tax practices, improve productivity and wellbeing by allowing firms to compete on the merits of their services and
not the quality of their tax advisors. Historically, a primary objective for
international tax negotiations was to prevent double taxation. Today,
countries must solve the problem of double non-taxation, the creation
of stateless income that slips through the gaps between tax systems and
is not taxed in any country.
In recognition of the challenges posed by base erosion and profit
shifting, the G-20 and OECD have led a coordinated international
response that seeks to improve tax policy and tax administration. The
OECD developed an action plan, released in July 2013 and endorsed by
G-20 leaders in September 2013 (OECD 2013). The action plan articu‑
lates 15 actions and a series of deliverables—reports, recommendations,
and model tax rules—to be completed by December 2015. In September
2014, the OECD released a set of recommendations to address 7 of the
15 actions (OECD 2014). Discussion drafts for the remaining eight items
are scheduled to be released over the course of 2015.
Recent announcements show that the OECD Base Erosion and
Profit Shifting Project, in combination with other legal and economic
developments, is having an impact on international tax policy. In
October 2014, Ireland announced policy changes that would effectively
shut down a widely used tax avoidance strategy, the Double Irish, which
allows some multinational firms to legally pay extremely low effective tax
rates (Noonan 2014). The Double Irish and its variants let firms funnel

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  215

profits through Ireland into low- or zero-tax jurisdictions and dramati‑
cally reduce the tax paid on the associated sales. The strategy relies on a
provision of Irish law that allows firms to incorporate in Ireland while
being resident for tax purposes in other countries. Like other mismatches
between the tax systems that operate in different countries, this mismatch
in residence and tax treatment facilitates base erosion and profit shifting.
Subsequently, in November 2014, the United Kingdom and
Germany reached agreement on a joint proposal for dealing with pref‑
erential intellectual property (IP) regimes. The proposal would require
the United Kingdom to close its current preferential IP regime to new
entrants in June 2016 and to abolish it entirely by June 2021. Preferential
IP regimes can fall under the heading of harmful tax practices: policies
that seek to attract highly mobile income with no economic relationship
to the taxing country by offering very low rates on that income. Such
policies are harmful because they encourage firms to aggressively shift
profits between countries solely to reduce tax liability. The agreement
between the United Kingdom and Germany endorsed an approach that
allows countries to offer reduced rates for IP provided that the property
derives from significant economic activity in the country. This approach
ensures that countries can implement their preferred policies to pro‑
mote innovation and economic development, but discourages policies
designed primarily to siphon off tax revenue from other countries.
The action plan also includes efforts to neutralize hybrid mis‑
matches, limit treaty shopping, reduce earnings stripping through
intra-firm financial transactions, stop the creation of stateless income,
and improve dispute resolution, among others. As one example of
these efforts, consider the action item on hybrid mismatches. A hybrid
mismatch occurs when a particular financial instrument or business
entity is treated differently by two different countries. For example, a
financial security may be treated as a debt security in one country and
an equity security in another. In certain cases, companies can obtain two
deductions for one act of borrowing or generate a deduction without a
corresponding income inclusion. The Base Erosion and Profit Shifting
Project proposes to combat such mismatches by increasing the coher‑
ence of international tax laws. Concretely, this action item encourages
steps such as drafting model treaties, encouraging member countries to
adopt laws that deny domestic deductions for payments also deductible
in another jurisdiction, and issuing guidance for tie-breaker rules if
multiple countries apply incompatible rules to a single transaction.
The Administration firmly supports the G-20/OECD Base Erosion
and Profit Shifting Project and continues to actively engage with the
international community to develop new and effective solutions to

216  |  Chapter 5

the tax compliance challenges raised by our modern economy. The
President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 also proposes specific changes to
U.S. tax law that will make it harder to create stateless income or achieve
double non-taxation. These proposals will benefit the American public
because, when gaps between tax systems allow firms to shift profits
out of the United States and reduce their tax liability, the burden of
financing our public programs shifts to other businesses and individu‑
als. Moreover, as home to some of the world’s most recognizable and
innovative companies, we benefit when companies are able to play by
clear, well-defined rules.

The President’s Approach to Business Tax Reform
The President’s approach to business tax reform seeks to improve the
quantity and quality of U.S. investment and thus productivity and output.
The reserve for revenue-neutral business tax reform in the President’s Fiscal
Year 2016 Budget details numerous specific reform proposals, including a
comprehensive discussion of the President’s international reform propos‑
als. The Administration’s overall approach to reform has been described
previously in The President’s Framework for Business Tax Reform, released
in 2012. The President’s approach would:
Cut the corporate rate to 28 percent, paid for by closing loopholes and
structural reforms. At 28 percent, down from 35 percent, the U.S. corporate
rate would be generally in line with other large OECD economies. The rate
cut would be paid for in part by closing loopholes—provisions that benefit
a specific industry without a sound justification in broader spillovers. The
special provisions for oil and gas that President Ronald Reagan unsuccess‑
fully targeted for elimination in his tax reform plan are one clear example.
Closing loopholes alone, however, would not raise sufficient funds to pay
for the rate reduction nor would it sufficiently address the disparities in tax
rates across means of financing and different business activities that reduce
the quality of investment. As a result, this approach would also require addi‑
tional structural reforms: addressing accelerated depreciation—deductions
for the depreciation of tangible capital at a more rapid pace than the assets
lose value—and reducing the tax preference for debt-financed investment.
Sound combinations of these measures would result in more similar taxation
of different types of investment and forms of financing.
Make permanent, expand, and reform key incentives. The test for
any incentive is whether it is motivated by a positive externality, which,

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  217

as discussed below, leads to inefficiently low levels of the corresponding
business activity in the private economy. The Framework identified three
categories of incentives as passing this test: incentives for research, for clean
energy, and for manufacturing. The reserve for revenue-neutral tax reform
in the FY 2016 Budget includes proposals that would make permanent and
improve the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit and the Renewable
Electricity Production Tax Credit, make permanent the Investment Tax
Credit for clean energy projects, and provide a new investment tax credit for
projects that provide for carbon capture and sequestration. The Budget also
includes a fee on large, highly leveraged financial institutions, to reflect the
negative externalities that financial firm size and leverage can impose on the
broader economy.
Simplify and reduce taxes for small businesses. Small businesses are
disproportionately organized as pass-through entities, and, while many
base-broadening reforms apply to both corporate and pass-through busi‑
nesses, rate reductions only benefit corporations. The reserve for revenueneutral reform in the FY 2016 Budget includes proposals that would simplify
complex accounting rules for small businesses and allow more generous
depreciation deductions for tangible investment for small businesses, both
simplifying and reducing their taxes. With appropriate reforms for small
businesses like these, business tax reform can be implemented on a standalone basis without broader individual reform.
Establish a hybrid international system with a minimum tax on the
earnings of foreign subsidiaries. The current U.S. system applies the full
statutory rate to foreign earnings, but only if, and when, those earnings are
repatriated. The President’s approach would replace the current system of
indefinite deferral with a new hybrid system based on a minimum tax. The
minimum tax would apply a 19-percent rate to the active foreign earnings of
U.S. companies at the time the income is earned. Once the minimum tax has
been paid, earnings could be repatriated without incurring any further tax
liability. Foreign tax credits would be allowed only against the minimum tax
liability for the country in which the foreign tax is paid and for only 85 per‑
cent of the amount of foreign taxes paid. Firms would also receive an allow‑
ance for corporate equity. This allowance, a deduction from the minimum
tax base, would provide businesses with a modest return on equity invested
in active business assets. This system would be more effective at preventing
base erosion than the current system and would reduce the importance of tax
considerations for some location decisions, while also having the potential to
improve the global competitiveness of U.S. corporations. A smarter hybrid
reflects a balance of competing neutrality concepts in rejecting both a pure
territorial system—one that exempts all foreign income from taxation—and
218  |  Chapter 5

a pure worldwide system. It would also eliminate the inefficiencies associ‑
ated with the ability to choose the timing of repatriations under the current
system. This comprehensive reform proposal stands in contrast to proposals
for a repatriation holiday, which would exacerbate the inefficiencies of the
current international system while also losing revenue.
Impose a toll charge on the existing stock of accumulated foreign
profits as part of the transition to the new international system and use the
revenue to finance infrastructure investment. Under current law, the exist‑
ing stock of accumulated profits is subject to tax if repatriated but need not
be repatriated. Under the new system, repatriation would incur no tax liabil‑
ity. To avoid a windfall from the transition, the President’s Budget proposes
a one-time toll charge of 14 percent on accumulated foreign profits. The rev‑
enue raised by this toll would be used to pay for infrastructure investment.
Add nothing to the deficit in either the short or long run. Most plans
consistent with the President’s approach generate one-time revenue during
the transition to the new system. This transition revenue can obscure signifi‑
cant future revenue loses if reform is viewed from a short-run perspective.
It is essential to measure the revenue impact of business tax reform when
fully in effect so that reform does not add to the deficit in the longer term.
A long-term view is particularly important when reform includes measures
like moving to economic depreciation, which shifts the timing of revenue
collected but not the total amount of revenue. Since that shift pulls revenue
forward into the traditional 10-year budget window, it results in inflated
savings. The President’s approach to business tax reform would not add to
the deficit in either the short or long run.

The Potential for Business Tax
Reform to Boost Productivity
Productivity is a primary long-run determinant of living standards,
together with factors like how growth is shared and who is able to participate
in the economy that are discussed in Chapter 1 and throughout this Report.
The President’s approach to business tax reform boosts productivity and
living standards through four channels: encouraging domestic investment,
improving the quality of investment, reducing the inefficiencies of the inter‑
national tax system, and investing in infrastructure. This section reviews
each of these channels in turn.

Encouraging Domestic Investment
Business tax reform can increase domestic investment in two ways.
First, reform can reduce effective marginal tax rates for businesses, which
Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  219

Box 5-3: Improving the Tax Code for Families
The President’s approach to business tax reform complements
his plan to improve the tax code for individuals and families, making it
fairer by eliminating some of the biggest loopholes and using the savings
to pay for investments that help middle-class families get ahead—part of
an overall approach the President has termed “middle-class economics.”
As in previous years, the Budget baseline assumes the continuation
of the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the
Child Tax Credit enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009, benefitting 16 million families with 29 million children.
Studies have shown that previous EITC expansions have significantly
increased employment among eligible individuals, and the Recovery Act
expansions implement the same pro-work model (Executive Office of
the President and U.S. Treasury Department 2014). In addition, recent
research suggests that the EITC and Child Tax Credit can improve health
and educational outcomes for the children whose parents receive the
credits (Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff 2011; Hoynes, Miller, and Simon
2013; Manoli and Turner 2014).
Simplify and expand child care tax benefits. The Budget proposes
to make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit available in full for
families with incomes up to $120,000 and expands the credit for families
with children under age five to pay for one-half the cost of care up to
$6,000 (a $3,000 maximum credit). This proposal is designed to make
it easier for families to afford high-quality child care because that both
helps working families manage what is often their largest expense and
invests more in the next generation by supporting child development.
Under current law, there are two types of tax benefits for families: a tax
credit for child and dependent care expenses and employer-provided
tax-preferred flexible spending accounts to pay for child care expenses.
For some families, obtaining the maximum benefit from current
policies requires using both the credit and a flexible spending account.
The Budget repeals dependent care flexible spending accounts so that
families need not perform calculations to compare tax benefits under
multiple competing tax benefits and invests the savings in a single,
improved child care tax credit.
Support employment. Building on the EITC and Child Tax Credit
expansions enacted in the Recovery Act, the Budget proposes an expan‑
sion of the EITC for workers without children and for noncustodial par‑
ents. The EITC is a highly effective antipoverty policy, but the maximum
credit for workers without children is only about $500. Expanding the
credit for this population would benefit 13 million low-income workers
and extend the pro-work impacts of the policy to a broader population

220  |  Chapter 5

(Executive Office of the President and U.S. Department of the Treasury
2014).
The Budget also proposes a tax benefit based on the earnings of the
lower-earning spouse in two-earner families. When both spouses work,
families incur additional expenses for commuting, professional obliga‑
tions, child care, and elder care. When layered on top of other costs,
including Federal and State taxes, these work-related costs can lead to a
high implicit tax rate on work, especially for parents of young children
and couples caring for aging parents (Kearney and Turner 2013). This
proposal for a new second-earner credit helps ensure that the tax code
supports work by offsetting a portion of the additional costs that a family
incurs when both spouses are working, such as commuting and childcare expenses. The new $500 second-earner tax benefit would benefit 24
million American families.
Consolidate and improve tax benefits for education. Building on
bipartisan Congressional proposals, the Budget proposes a significant
simplification of the tax benefits for education combined with an expan‑
sion targeted to those individuals least likely to attend college without
financial aid. In most cases, students and their families can claim one of
three tax benefits based on current educational expenses: the American
Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the tuition
and fees deduction. Choosing and claiming education tax benefits can
require complex calculations and, under current law, the benefits often
flow to those families in which children are most likely to attend col‑
lege even without any additional assistance. One analysis found that 27
percent of individuals claiming the tuition and fees deduction would
have received a larger benefit if they claimed a tax credit instead (GAO
2012). The Budget proposes that the three tax benefits based on current
educational expenses be combined into a single, improved American
Opportunity Tax Credit.
Expand access to workplace retirement savings. The Budget also
calls for the creation of a new automatic Individual Retirement Account
(IRA) for workers whose employers do not offer another retirement
plan. The automatic IRA would guarantee every American working at a
firm with more than 10 employees access to easy, payroll-based retire‑
ment savings. Americans face a daunting array of choices when it comes
to their retirement savings, and, while some workers are automatically
enrolled in a retirement savings plan by their employer with an option
to opt out, others have to open an account, manage contributions, and
research and select investments on their own. However, the evidence is
clear: individuals with access to an easy way to save at work will save, and
those who lack such access rarely receive any tax benefits for retirement

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  221

at all (Choi et al. 2004). The automatic IRA would allow individuals to
begin saving for retirement without needing to confront complicated
choices about which tax-preferred vehicle to use and what portfolio to
select.
Reform the taxation of capital income. The Budget proposes to
close the single largest loophole allowing capital income to go untaxed:
the step up in basis at death. Families that spend down their wealth dur‑
ing their lifetimes must pay tax on their capital gains as they sell their
assets, but the tiny fraction of families wealthy enough that they never
need to sell their assets can pass those assets to their heirs without ever
paying the tax on the capital gain. Moreover, if the heirs ever sell the
assets, the cost at which they are considered to have acquired the assets
is the value at the time the assets are inherited. This treatment creates an
inefficiency known as the lock-in effect in which older individuals for
whom the best course of action would be to sell their assets and invest in
a new enterprise, instead hold on to the assets to avoid paying any capital
gains tax. In addition, the President’s Budget would increase the top tax
rate on capital gains and dividends from 23.8 percent under current law
to 28 percent.
Close loopholes and limit tax expenditures. Consistent with previ‑
ous Budgets, the FY 2016 Budget proposes a limit on tax expenditures for
high-income families. Deductions and exclusions from income generate
a tax benefit for each dollar of the tax-advantaged activity equal to the
individual’s marginal rate. Because marginal rates typically rise with
income, these tax benefits, such as the mortgage interest deduction,
charitable deduction, and deduction for State and local taxes, provide
more value to high-income families than for middle-income families
and can lead to inefficiencies by excessively subsidizing certain taxpayer
behavior. The FY 2016 Budget proposes to limit the value of these tax
benefits to 28 percent. If a taxpayer’s marginal rate is 35 percent—such
that under current law a dollar of tax-preferred activity generates 35
cents of tax savings—under the proposal it would generate only 28 cents.
By reducing the tax savings associated with these deductions, the pro‑
posal reduces the corresponding inefficiencies. In addition, the Budget
includes additional proposals that would implement the Buffett Rule, the
principle that no household making over $1 million each year should pay
a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.

will increase investment, the size of the capital stock, and output. Second,
reform can reduce the effective average tax rate on highly profitable busi‑
ness investments, which will encourage firms to locate mobile, high-return
investments in the United States.
222  |  Chapter 5

As discussed above, the effective marginal tax rate is the ratio of tax
paid to pre-tax income for a project yielding the minimum required return
to obtain financing under prevailing market conditions. When effective
marginal rates are higher, potential projects need to generate more income
if the business is to pay the tax and still provide investors with the required
return. Businesses will therefore limit their activities to higher-return
projects. Thus, all else equal, a higher effective marginal rate for businesses
will tend to reduce the level of investment, and a lower effective marginal
rate will tend to encourage additional projects and a larger capital stock.3
Increases in the capital available for each worker’s use, also referred to as
capital deepening, boost productivity, wages, and output.
One approach to business tax reform would prioritize changes that
reduce effective marginal tax rates for businesses. The core of such a reform
is allowing firms to immediately deduct the full cost of their investments,
known as expensing. Expensing reduces the effective tax rate on equityfinanced investments that generate the minimum required return to zero.
That is, it reduces the effective marginal tax rate on equity-financed invest‑
ments to zero. However, a corporate tax system with expensing would
continue to impose a positive tax on investments that generate a higher
return.4 In contrast, a reform that reduces the effective marginal tax rate
to zero by lowering the statutory rate to zero would eliminate taxation on
high-return investments as well and thus come at a much greater revenue
loss. An additional benefit of an approach oriented around expensing is that
it cuts taxes only on new investments. Investments made in the past would
be unaffected. Because tax cuts today do not spur additional investment in
the past, the revenue loss associated with tax cuts on past investment spurs
no additional investment and generates no increase in productivity. (See Box
5-4 for a discussion of the use of expensing as a temporary policy during
economic downturns.)
However, while expensing has a number of attractive features, the
exclusive focus on the marginal investment misses several critical points
that are increasingly important in the modern, global economy. Firms face
other important decisions that are also affected by the business tax system.
To take one example, consider a firm deciding where to locate a plant. When
a project’s return substantially exceeds investors’ required return, there is no
3 See, for example, Cummins et al. (1994), Chirinko et al. (1999), Hassett and Hubbard (2002),
Hassett and Newmark (2008).
4 The discussion in this section focuses on business income taxes in isolation. Even with
expensing, the effective marginal tax rate could remain positive as a result of other taxes, such
as sales and property taxes. While incorporating other taxes into the analysis would affect
the level of tax, they would not affect any of the conclusions about the changes in tax rates
resulting from the policy changes discussed in this section.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  223

question a firm will pursue the project. But the firm has flexibility over the
choice of country. For this decision, the value of accelerated depreciation
deductions is small relative to the profit the plan generates. The tax on these
higher returns, sometimes referred to as excess returns, will depend largely
on the statutory rate. As the excess returns grow in size, the relevant tax rate
converges to the statutory rate. These types of investment location decisions
are increasingly important in an interconnected global economy, and may
be particularly important for the type of investment we most want to attract
and retain (Devereux and Griffith 1998, 2003).
An alternative approach to reform therefore focuses on reducing the
statutory rate to reduce the effective average tax rate on highly profitable
investments. The effective average tax rate is the ratio of taxes paid to pretax profits for a particular investment. If an investment yields only enough
to pay the required return after taxes, the effective average tax rate on that
investment is equal to the effective marginal tax rate. However, if the invest‑
ment return exceeds that minimum amount, the effective average tax rate on
the investment exceeds the effective marginal tax rate. Therefore, reductions
in the statutory rate are essential to encourage additional internationally
mobile, high-return investments in the United States.
Moreover, many of the disparities in tax rates across industries and
assets, across means of financing, and across organizational forms that dam‑
age the quality of investment (discussed next) are reduced at lower statutory
rates. Lower statutory rates can also relieve some of the otherwise irreducible
tension between capital export neutrality and capital ownership neutrality in
international taxation (discussed below). Finally, it is worth considering the
nearly universal view among business people and tax practitioners that the
statutory rate is particularly salient in business decisionmaking.
In total, given the tension between reform that exclusively targets the
effective marginal tax rate by accelerating depreciation and reform that low‑
ers the statutory tax rate with an eye toward attracting mobile, high-return
investment and reducing other distortions, the President’s approach to
business tax reform targets the statutory rate. Such an approach encourages
additional domestic investment by reducing the disparity in tax rates across
jurisdictions and also reduces disparities in tax rates across industry, asset,
means of financing, and organizational form.

Improving the Quality of Investment
It is not just the quantity of investment that matters for the economy,
but also the quality. Quality does not mean more expensive, higher-tech
machinery, but instead means that each dollar is invested in the area where
it generates the highest return and in the form that most efficiently allocates
224  |  Chapter 5

risks and managerial talents.5 The quality of investment depends, not on
the level of taxation, but on its form. In particular, maximizing the quality
of investment requires a tax system that does not distort business decisions
except in the cases where markets, by themselves, would not result in opti‑
mal outcomes.
Reducing Distortions in the Allocation of Investment by Industry
and Asset. Targeted tax preferences lead to dispersion in tax rates across
industries and assets. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),
effective marginal tax rates for businesses subject to the corporate income
range from 12 percent for the broadcasting and telecommunications indus‑
try to 25 percent for certain manufacturing sectors, motion picture and
sound recording, and some financial sectors (CBO 2014). As a result of
these disparities, for any given level of the capital stock, firms will pursue
lower-return projects in tax-preferred sectors rather than higher-return
projects in tax-disadvantaged sectors. These disparities in tax rates also exist
across asset types, and the cross-asset disparities can be much larger. CBO
estimates that the effective marginal tax rate on mining structures is only 1
percent while the effective marginal tax rate on prepackaged software is 30
percent.
By reducing these distortions, the economy can become more produc‑
tive even with no change in the level of investment and savings. One recent
study concluded that 4 percent of the aggregate capital stock appears to be
misallocated as a result of corporate tax distortions (Fatica 2013). Inefficient
capital allocation lowers productivity and living standards (Auerbach and
Hassett 1992). The President’s approach to reform would take significant
steps to reduce the disparities in tax rates across industry and asset. For
example, the FY 2016 Budget calls for the elimination of numerous fossil
fuel preferences that not only advantage fossil fuel production in general,
but also pick winners and losers among fossil fuel technologies. The Budget
also proposes repeal of an excise tax credit for certain distilled spirits that
can lead to distortions even within a relatively small class of production
activities.
Reducing Distortions in the Financing of Investment. The current
U.S. system of business taxation imposes a substantially higher tax burden
on equity-financed investment than debt-financed investment. Tax reform
that reduces this disparity can reduce overleveraging, which increases finan‑
cial fragility since firms have less of a cushion in downturns, and prevent fire
5 In Chapter 4 and throughout this Report, policies are discussed that can help ensure that
workers are better allocated to the activities in which they will be most productive. For
example, implementing policies that reduce unnecessary distortions in workers’ choices, such
as improving work-family balance, result in more workers choosing jobs based on where they
will be most productive.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  225

Box 5-4: Temporary Countercyclical Policies to Promote Investment
Policies that temporarily reduce effective marginal tax rates can
play an important role in increasing the quantity of investment and out‑
put in the short run, when the economy is operating below its potential.
One example of such a policy is the bonus depreciation provision that
was enacted on an emergency basis to help combat the Great Recession.
Bonus depreciation accelerates the timing of the depreciation deduc‑
tions firms take for their tangible investment; it operates as a de facto
interest-free loan—firms get larger deductions today, reducing current
tax payments, and smaller deductions in the future, increasing future tax
payments.
When credit markets seized up during the financial crisis, some
businesses had difficulty borrowing at any interest rate. As a result, if
they did not have sufficient cash on hand to finance all of their ongoing
projects, they had to reduce investment below their desired level. Bonus
depreciation moderated the economic damage of dysfunctional credit
markets by providing firms making at least some new investment with
a substantial infusion of cash that they could use to increase investment
further. Research by Eric Zwick and James Mahon (2014) finds that
bonus depreciation increased investment by 30 percent between 2008
and 2010, with the largest effects among financially constrained firms.
These temporary business tax cuts contributed to the fact that business
investment has increased at a 5.3-percent annual rate over the course of
this economic recovery, which is notably faster than the pace seen in the
2000s recovery.
Moreover, while firms limited by borrowing constraints could
direct every dollar of this cash infusion into new investment, the cost
to the Federal Government was only the interest charge incurred by
deferring a tax payment that would have been due today into the future.
Because interest rates on Federal debt fell at the outset of the crisis and
rates have remained low since that time, the cost of financing the implicit
loan has been modest. As a result, the impact on output per dollar cost
to the government of stimulus policies like this one can be quite high.
This same logic applies to targeted policies that expand expensing
for small businesses. Bonus depreciation allows firms to deduct a portion
of their investment expenses immediately; expensing allows them to
deduct the entire cost. Small businesses are more likely to be credit con‑
strained than large businesses. This logic also helps explain why policies
such as extending net operating loss carrybacks, which allows firms to
take deductions for operating losses immediately that they would other‑
wise not be able to claim until future years, may be effective in spurring

226  |  Chapter 5

investment in the midst of a financial crisis even though such policies do
not affect the effective marginal tax rate in standard economic models.
Permanent business tax reform, however, focuses on long-run
growth, not short-term challenges. The overall strengthening of the
economy, combined with the fact that more credit is flowing to
businesses, means both the effectiveness and desirability of bonus
depreciation are considerably less today than they were in the recent
past. Moreover, making bonus depreciation permanent—or indefinitely
extending it—would cost more than $200 billion over the next 10 years.
As a result, the President’s Budget would allow bonus depreciation to
lapse at the end of 2014.

sales, contagion, and larger and less efficient macroeconomic fluctuations
(de Mooij 2011, Slemrod 2009). Firms’ decisions with regard to financing
their investments also affect bankruptcy risk, the extent to which investment
risk is distributed in the population, and potentially also the management
quality of the firm itself (Weichenrieder and Klautke 2008). The tax advan‑
tage for interest arises because firms can deduct interest payments, but not
dividend payments, from taxable income, while individuals must pay tax on
both interest and dividend income, though they pay tax on dividends at a
reduced rate.
The Treasury Department estimates that the effective marginal tax rate
on equity-financed investment is 27.3 percent, while the effective marginal
tax rate on debt-financed investment is -38.9 percent (Figure 5-7). (Tax rates
can be negative if the tax benefits of the activity, such as additional credits
or deductions, exceed the additional tax paid on the associated income. In
the case of debt-financed investment, the combination of interest deductions
and accelerated depreciation more than offset the tax paid at the corporate
level.) The Treasury Department estimates that, as of 2014, the United States
had the second-lowest tax rate on debt-financed investment in machinery in
the OECD and the largest debt-equity disparity for such investments. Even
taking into account individual-level taxes, which tax equity returns more
lightly than interest payments, the disparity is still large, with a 35.5 percent
tax rate for equity investment and a -0.2 percent rate for debt. By reducing
the statutory rate, the President’s approach to business tax reform would
moderate the debt-equity disparity. Since the statutory rate determines the
value of an additional deduction, a reduction in the statutory rate reduces
the value of the deduction for interest payments. Additional reforms to the
treatment of interest expense could further moderate the disparity.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  227

Figure 5-7
Effective Marginal Tax Rates by Source of Financing, 2014
50.0
Equity

40.0

30.0

Debt

35.5

27.3

20.0

10.0
0.0

-10.0
-20.0

Corporate
Taxes Only

Corporate and
Individual Taxes

-0.2

-30.0
-40.0
-50.0

-38.9

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis.

Addressing Positive and Negative Externalities of Business Behavior.
Business activity often generates spillovers that impact other firms and
the general public, even when they are not involved in the activity. These
spillover effects are known as externalities, and can be either positive or
negative. For example, future generations of Americans benefit from the
research and development activity we undertake today in the form of new
products and services, which they will be able to enjoy, and the higher wages
resulting from increased productivity. Research and development generates
positive externalities. Polluting activities, such as burning fossil fuels, gener‑
ate negative externalities through increases in carbon dioxide emissions and
particulate matter.
	 The quality of American investment is maximized when firms’
financial incentives to make particular investments reflect the externalities
those investments impose on others. Business tax reform can play a role in
aligning the social and private incentives for different activities by appropri‑
ately subsidizing or penalizing activities where research conclusively estab‑
lishes positive or negative spillovers. The President’s Framework for Business
Tax Reform identified three areas where targeted incentives are appropriate:
research and development, clean energy, and manufacturing. The FY 2016
Budget identifies one further area where a tax is appropriate: highly lever‑
aged financial firms.

228  |  Chapter 5

Numerous studies find that the total returns to research and develop‑
ment are significantly larger than the private returns earned by the investors
who fund it (Hall, Mairesse, and Mohnen 2010; Tyson and Linden 2012).
This evidence suggests that the social returns range from one to two times
the private returns, a disparity which leads to private-sector underinvest‑
ment in the absence of policies such as the Research and Experimentation
Tax Credit. Studies that directly evaluate the Research and Experimentation
Tax Credit find that each dollar of foregone tax revenue through the credit
generally causes firms to invest at least one dollar in research and devel‑
opment (Hall 1995; Hall and Van Reenen 2000; Executive Office of the
President and U.S. Department of the Treasury 2012).
While energy production is essential for the modern economy, pol‑
luting activities also pose significant harm. Greenhouse gas emissions will
lead to significant environmental costs for future generations and other
pollutants, such as particulate matter and ozone, lead to immediate health
consequences. Appropriate subsidies for clean energy can help address these
challenges and ensure that Americans benefit from high-quality invest‑
ment in the energy sector. (See Chapter 6 for additional discussion of the
Administration’s energy strategy.)
Spillovers also provide the argument for policies that focus specifically
on the manufacturing sector. Encouraging manufacturing investment and
production may support higher-wage jobs. Investment in new production
capacity and proximity to the manufacturing process create spillovers across
firms and industries, leading to the ideas, capabilities, and technologies that
enable innovation (Greenstone, Hornbeck, and Moretti 2010). To the degree
these effects are operating in the economy, targeted incentives for manufac‑
turing investment would be justified.
The FY 2016 Budget includes a fee on large, highly leveraged financial
institutions. This fee would apply to banks and other financial institu‑
tions with assets of at least $50 billion, affecting approximately 100 firms.
Excessive leverage entails potentially serious costs to American families and
other businesses in cases of default, and the problem is most acute in the
financial sector, where balance sheets may be particularly fragile. Excessive
borrowing may arise because these costs are not entirely borne by the firms
deciding how much to borrow. By increasing the cost to firms and there‑
fore discouraging excessively risky financing decisions for large financial
institutions, the financial fee will reduce the resources devoted to address‑
ing the corresponding damages of default and increase American families’
wellbeing.
Reducing Distortions in the Choice of Business Form. Business own‑
ers can choose between several different legal structures for their operations.
Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  229

For tax purposes, the primary distinction is between the C corporation, a
corporation subject to the corporate income tax, and alternative structures
treated as pass-through entities. Many rules, such as those for determining
depreciation deductions, are similar for C corporations and pass-through
entities. However, there are important differences, the most notable of
which are the rate structure and the treatment of distributions. The top
Federal corporate tax rate is 35 percent while the top individual tax rate is
39.6 percent. Thus, corporations pay at a maximum rate of 35 percent while
owners of pass-through entities pay a maximum rate of 39.6 percent on their
business earnings. However, distributions to business owners are tax-free
for the owners of pass-through businesses and taxable for the owners of C
corporations.
Overall, the tax system currently advantages large pass-through enti‑
ties over large C corporations. This advantage arises because the combina‑
tion of corporate income taxes and individual income taxes faced by owners
of a C corporation exceeds the single layer of taxation faced by owners of
a pass-through entity. As a result, according to the Treasury Department’s
analysis shown in Figure 5-8, C corporations face a 30.3 percent effective
marginal tax rate while pass-through entities face a 25.2 percent rate. Similar
estimates by the Congressional Budget Office put the effective tax rate for C
corporations at 31 percentage points and the rate for pass-through entities
at 27 percentage points (CBO 2014).
As the tax treatment of corporate and pass-through businesses is
not identical, the tax system encourages firms to change their corporate
structure in order to reduce their tax liability. Empirical research confirms
that these differences induce changes in the ownership structure of firms.6
By changing the legal structures under which businesses operate relative to
what they would be in the absence of these taxes, the distortion in business
form reduces productivity and output. For example, in most cases, publicly
traded businesses are taxed as C corporations. However, the tax bias against
C corporations may discourage some businesses from accessing public capi‑
tal markets and therefore lead to inefficient ownership structures.
The difference between the top corporate tax rate and the top indi‑
vidual tax rate has changed over time, and the increase in this disparity in
the late 1980s—when the top corporate rate went from 4 percentage points
above the individual rate to 6 percentage points below—led to a large shift
in the distribution of revenue across business forms (CBO 2012). The share
of business receipts accounted for by C corporations has continued to fall
since that time as a result of other tax and non-tax changes in the economy.
6 See, for example, Goolsbee (1998, 2004), Gordon and MacKie-Mason (1994), and MacKieMason and Gordon (1997).

230  |  Chapter 5

Percent
35
30

Figure 5-8
Effective Marginal Tax Rates, 2014
30.3

Overall Business
Tax Rate: 28.4
25.2

25
20
15
10
5
0

Corporate

Business Structure

Pass-through

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis.

Overall, since 1980, the C corporation share of business receipts has fallen
from nearly 90 percent to just above 60 percent (Figure 5-9). To the degree
this trend has been driven by tax considerations, it represents an inefficient
way for businesses to choose to organize themselves and a bias against the
C corporate form. By reducing the statutory rate on C corporations, the
President’s approach to business tax reform would reduce the current bias
against investment in the corporate form.

Reducing the Inefficiencies of the International Tax System
Business tax reform can also increase productivity and output by
reducing disparities in tax rates across countries and across activities. The
structure of production processes, corporate ownership relations, and intrafirm financing are all influenced by tax considerations. Higher tax rates on
corporate earnings in a particular country reduce investment in that coun‑
try.7 Because corporate income tax liability can depend on the country of
residence of a business’s corporate parent, corporate taxes can also affect the
ownership structure of firms. One example of this effect is the series of highprofile corporate inversions—rearrangements of the ownership structure
of U.S. corporations so as to obtain a foreign parent for tax purposes—that
7 See, for example, Cummins and Hubbard (1995), Devereux and Griffith (1998, 2003), Desai
et al. (2004), Grubert and Mutti (1991, 2000), Hines (1996, 1999).

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  231

Figure 5-9
C Corporation Share of Total Business Receipts, 1980–2011
100

90

80

70
2011
60

50
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

Note: RICs and REITs excluded from both C corporation share and total.
Source: IRS Statistics of Income; CEA calculations.

2005

2010

has received significant press attention over the last year (see Box 5-1). In
addition, differences in tax rates across countries can lead firms to engage
in complicated financial transactions to shift profits from high-tax countries
to low-tax countries (Bartelsman and Beetsma 2003, Huizinga and Laeven
2008, Dharmapala 2014).
Unfortunately, achieving neutrality with respect to all of these busi‑
ness decisions simultaneously is difficult because, for any country acting
alone, reforms that move toward neutrality on one dimension often move
away from neutrality on another. For example, a firm will structure its pro‑
duction processes in an efficient manner across countries if it pays the same
tax rate in every country. This neutrality concept is known as capital export
neutrality. On the other hand, a local firm will be owned by the parent that
generates the most economic value if all parent companies face the same tax
rate on local production regardless of which country the parent firm is based
in. This concept is referred to as capital ownership neutrality. Under the first
objective, features of the current U.S. tax system such as indefinite deferral—
which allows firms to defer paying tax on foreign income until it is repatri‑
ated—are a problem and should be eliminated. Under the second objective,
foreign income should be exempt from taxation entirely, not just deferred.
Moving in either direction makes the other problem worse. Moreover, these
two notions of neutrality are only two of many widely discussed notions of
neutrality when it comes to the taxation of multinational firms.
232  |  Chapter 5

The President’s hybrid approach to international taxation reflects a
sensible compromise between competing neutrality concepts, moderates
the challenges of base erosion and profit shifting, and reduces inefficien‑
cies generated by the current system of indefinite deferral. By imposing
a minimum level of tax, the value of setting up shell corporations in tax
havens with tax rates near zero is dramatically reduced. Under current law,
a firm might establish a subsidiary in a low- or zero-tax jurisdiction and
then arrange its affairs so that as much income is reported by that subsidiary
as possible. However, the President’s approach would impose a minimum
tax of 19 percent on earnings in every country, paid when the income is
earned. Thus, while a firm would see a modest benefit if it shifts profits
from a country with a tax rate above 19 percent to a country with a tax rate
below that level, the incentive to find tax havens that offer a zero tax rate is
substantially reduced.
In isolation, a minimum tax might encourage other countries to target
subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals for specific taxes intended to soak up
the revenue of the minimum tax. While treaty provisions limit the ability
of foreign governments to target American firms by virtue of their being
American firms, a modest reduction in the value of foreign tax credits for
purposes of the minimum tax computation further protects against efforts
by other countries to soak up the minimum tax revenue. This reduction
ensures that U.S. corporations are not completely indifferent to the level of
tax, while achieving the objective of dramatically reducing the impact of rate
differentials across countries.
An allowance for corporate equity for purposes of computing the
minimum tax ensures that American firms can compete on an even footing
anywhere in the world when it comes to productive investment. Thus, the
minimum tax would include a deduction for firms based on their equity
investments abroad. This allowance would serve to reduce effective marginal
tax rates on American firms when it comes to buying foreign businesses or
performing productive activity abroad.
Finally, tax-free repatriation means that firms will no longer have an
incentive to stockpile profits in their foreign affiliates. Instead, once they
have paid the minimum tax, they could repatriate their earnings at any time
without any additional tax liability. Critically, the President’s approach to
business tax reform would allow tax-free repatriation under a fully reformed
system. Allowing a repatriation holiday under the current system would
both lose revenue and exacerbate its inefficiencies, compounding our exist‑
ing challenges.
While the harms of so-called trapped cash can be over-stated, under
the President’s minimum tax proposal there would no longer be any reason
Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  233

for it to exist, provided the existing stock of accumulated profits is effectively
taxed at the outset. However, allowing tax-free repatriation of existing prof‑
its—which would incur tax if repatriated today—would provide an unmer‑
ited windfall. To avoid this outcome, implementation of the minimum tax
and tax-free repatriation would be accompanied by a toll charge on accumu‑
lated profits. These profits could then be repatriated with no additional tax
under the new system.

Investing in Infrastructure
Business tax reform is part of the President’s broader approach
to improving the economy and raising productivity. The transition to a
new international system would raise substantial one-time revenue. The
President’s Budget proposes to use these funds for a six-year investment
in infrastructure—ensuring that temporary revenues are matched to tem‑
porary costs so that the business tax reform as a whole does not raise the
long-run deficit.
A quality transportation network is essential to a vibrant economy.
Investments by previous generations of Americans—from the Erie Canal,
to the Transcontinental Railroad, to the Interstate Highway System—were
instrumental in increasing productivity and generating economic growth.
A high-performing transportation network keeps jobs in America, allows
businesses to expand, and lowers prices on household goods for American
families. Better infrastructure allows businesses to manage their inventories
and transport goods more cheaply and efficiently, as well as access a variety
of suppliers and markets for their products, making it more cost-effective
for manufacturers to keep production in, or move production to, the United
States.
The economic benefits of smart infrastructure investment are longterm competitiveness, productivity, innovation, lower prices, and higher
incomes (Gramlich 1994, Munnell 1992). The costs of inadequate infrastruc‑
ture investment are exhibited all around us. Americans spend 5.5 billion
hours in traffic each year, costing families more than $120 billion in extra
fuel and lost time (Schrank, Eisele, and Lomax 2012). American businesses
pay $7.8 billion a year in direct freight transportation costs due to bottle‑
necks (White and Grenzeback 2007).
Infrastructure investment is a natural partner for business tax reform,
as both are motivated by the goal of increasing investment, productivity, and
ultimately the well-being of American families. Devoting transition revenue
raised by business tax reform to infrastructure investment boosts the overall
productivity impact of tax reform.

234  |  Chapter 5

Four Alternative Approaches
to Business Tax Reform
Analysts have offered four primary alternative approaches to reform.
This section considers the merits of each approach.

Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax
Numerous commentators have called for complete repeal of the
corporate income tax. However, the details of what repeal could plausibly
mean vary widely. One version would repeal the corporate income tax and
make no other changes to the tax system. Such an approach suffers from
insurmountable compliance problems and would lead to revenue losses far
in excess of current corporate tax receipts. Income would rapidly shift into
the now-untaxed corporate form, allowing individuals to indefinitely defer
taxes, and evasion strategies that disguise more heavily taxed wage income as
lightly taxed dividend income would become widespread. Moreover, repeal‑
ing the corporate income tax without increasing the deficit would require
massive, deeply damaging cuts to important programs like Medicare,
Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as federal investments in areas such as
national security, research, and education.
A somewhat more nuanced approach to corporate income tax repeal
would combine repeal with an increase in the tax rate on capital gains and
dividends to match tax rates on earned income. However, taxing capital
gains and dividends at the rate on earned income would be unlikely to raise
enough money to cut the corporate rate by even 3 percentage points, let
alone 35. Increasing rates on capital gains and dividends can finance only a
small reduction in the corporate rate for three primary reasons. First, these
forms of income are already subject to partial taxation. Second, individuals
can use a variety of strategies, such as timing shifts in financial transactions,
to avoid realization-based capital income taxes. And third, substantial capi‑
tal income avoids individual-level taxation because it is held by tax-exempt
entities such as pension funds and foundations. In the presence of a corpo‑
rate tax, the corporations in which these tax-exempt entities have invested,
of course, are subject to tax.
Absent a much larger overhaul of capital taxation—which would
need to include accrual accounting for capital gains, retaining the corpo‑
rate income tax as a withholding tax to address tax-exempt entities and
tax evasion, and providing credits or deductions when corporate earnings
are distributed to owners who are not tax-exempt—purely individual-level
capital taxation is not a viable policy. Eric Toder and Alan Viard (2014)
have recently advanced a more fleshed-out proposal that would repeal the
Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  235

corporate income tax, tax capital gains on accrual for publicly traded com‑
panies, and tax companies that are not publicly traded under a pass-through
regime. Instead of paying tax on the proceeds of asset sales, shareholders of
publicly traded corporations would pay tax on the change in market value
of their shares each year and no additional tax when the assets are ultimately
sold. However, even if the substantive and political challenges in transition‑
ing to a new system could be overcome, their framework replaces only onehalf of the revenue from the corporate tax.

Cut the Top Individual Rate in Parallel with the Corporate Rate
The desire for neutrality with respect to organizational form and the
desire to cut taxes on pass-through businesses have been used to justify argu‑
ments that individual and corporate tax reform need to be done together
and, in particular, that there should be parity between the top individual
rate and the top corporate rate. This argument is motivated by valid con‑
cerns. Different rates on activities with different labels create opportunities
for gamesmanship; for example, building up income inside a corporation
rather than paying annual tax on it at the individual level. But overall, this
argument suffers from serious economic and practical objections. On the
economic merits, it is important to remember that C-corporation income
is partially taxed at two levels while pass-through income is only taxed at
one level. As a result, C corporations face an effective marginal rate that is 5
percentage points higher than that on pass-through businesses, as discussed
above. Although the President’s approach would cut and simplify taxes for
small business, including small pass-through entities, for larger businesses
reform should move in the direction of greater parity—with the goal of equal
effective rates for C corporations and pass-through entities when individual
and corporate taxes are combined—a goal that would not be served by par‑
allel reductions in individual and corporate tax rates. Meanwhile, lowering
the top individual rate across-the-board is both expensive and regressive,
while significantly lowering the individual rate only for pass-through busi‑
nesses—but not for individual taxpayers—would greatly exacerbate the
existing compliance problems associated with relabeling wages and salaries
as business income by high-income individuals.
Finally, while reducing the top individual rate is often motivated by
reference to small business, reducing it is an inefficient way to target small
businesses. Already, 96 percent of small businesses pay tax at rates of 28
percent or below (Knittel et al. 2011). Most of the revenue loss from a top
rate cut reflects the expense of a tax cut for high-income individuals. Tools
like expanding expensing for small businesses and reforming accounting
requirements can be used to ensure that reform, taken as a whole, both
236  |  Chapter 5

simplifies and cuts taxes for small businesses—without cutting the tax rate
on high-income professionals and large firms.

Adopt a Territorial Tax System
It is sometimes argued that all other major economies use a territo‑
rial tax system, though in practice many of them deviate significantly from
a pure territorial system. A country that operates a pure territorial system
would tax firms only on the income earned in that country, and exclude
from taxation all income earned elsewhere in the world. Territorial taxation
ensures that local firms are owned by the parent company that generates
the largest economic benefits from ownership. However, this result comes
at the expense of an inefficient global allocation of capital and production.
Firms operating in a low-tax country pay less tax, and firms will respond
by attempting to shift as much production as possible to low-tax countries.
A territorial approach exacerbates the problems of inefficient alloca‑
tion of capital around the world, with excess capital in countries with low tax
rates. Low-return investments are pursued in low-tax countries; however,
high-return investments in higher-tax countries are not. In addition, a ter‑
ritorial system exacerbates the challenges of base erosion and profit shifting
as it increases the financial rewards of shifting income abroad. Countries
around the world are facing difficult questions about how to address base
erosion (see Box 5-2). While explicit anti-erosion provisions can moderate
these effects, they will not eliminate them. Offsetting the revenue loss arising
from base erosion by multinationals will require higher tax rates on domes‑
tic U.S. companies, further discouraging investment in the United States, or
higher tax rates on individuals. And, while it is often asserted that moving
to a territorial system eliminates the incentive for corporations to invert, this
is an overstatement. The incentive to relocate abroad is eliminated if the tax
system is residence-neutral. Relocating can still be desirable if it facilitates
tax-avoidance strategies such as earnings stripping, which can be more effec‑
tive with a foreign parent even under a territorial system.
Substituting a fully territorial tax system privileges a single neutrality
concept above—and at the expense of—all other neutrality concepts and
exacerbates several challenges associated with tax avoidance. The hybrid
international system in the President’s approach reflects a sensible compro‑
mise between competing neutrality concepts, moderates the challenges of
base erosion and profit shifting, and reduces the economic waste associated
with the current system of indefinite deferral.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  237

Allow Expensing for New Investment
Another alternative paradigm for business tax reform would focus on
reducing the effective marginal tax rate for businesses with the objective of
spurring additional investment and ultimately a larger capital stock. This
alternative approach would feature two major components: full expensing
and full repeal of interest deductibility. Rather than eliminating accelerated
depreciation, this approach would go in the opposite direction by allow‑
ing immediate deductions for new investment. Since the combination of
expensing and interest deductibility results in negative effective tax rates,
this approach would also repeal the tax deduction for net interest.
The primary advantage of this alternative approach is potentially
larger impacts on productivity and output, compared to an approach that
focuses on reducing the statutory rate. By reducing the effective marginal
tax rate on new business investment, it would boost investment, the capi‑
tal stock, and productivity. In addition, a well-designed tax system based
around expensing may be better suited to achieving neutrality between
debt and equity financing than reforms within the current corporate tax
paradigm. Expensing would also avoid the need to determine depreciation
schedules for tax purposes (though not for accounting purposes) and there‑
fore reduce the bookkeeping required to track assets’ tax basis.
The primary disadvantage of the proposal is the additional revenue
cost associated with more generous depreciation schedules, which would
require either a smaller rate reduction or other offsetting tax increases. If
the cost of expensing is offset with a smaller rate reduction, the impact of
the plan on average tax rates and the ability to attract mobile, high-return
investment under the proposal is reduced. This could lead to smaller effects
of reform on productivity and a smaller reduction in costly tax avoidance
behavior. Moreover, if, as some argue, depreciation provisions have only
a modest impact on investment decisions, this alternative paradigm would
be bad for investment and growth. It would provide businesses with a large
tax benefit that has little impact on their investment decisions (expensing),
while taking away a benefit that has a larger impact on their investment deci‑
sions (interest deductibility) and providing a smaller rate cut.
In addition, an expensing approach that does not repeal interest
deductibility would exacerbate the non-neutralities of the current system
by reducing the effective marginal tax rate on debt-financed projects even
further below zero—effectively subsidizing them—and thus encouraging
investments that are socially wasteful. Finally, shifting to such a system would
face significant technical challenges both with structuring the transition and
with handling the taxation of financial institutions, and would require cor‑
responding reforms to taxation of capital income at the individual level.
238  |  Chapter 5

Conclusion
Longer-term economic growth relies on continued increases in pro‑
ductivity that enable each American worker to produce more for every hour
on the job. Business tax reform offers the potential to boost productivity
by improving the quantity and quality of investment in the United States.
However, it can only do this if it is done carefully and does not exacerbate
other challenges; for example, by adding to the medium- or long-term defi‑
cit or crowding out other public investments. Rather, business tax reform
can and should complement the rest of the growth agenda—including by
funding investments in infrastructure—as well as a broader agenda involv‑
ing individual tax reform and a set of other policies that guarantees all
Americans can share in this growth.

Business Tax Reform and Economic Growth  |  239

C H A P T E R

6

THE ENERGY REVOLUTION:
ECONOMIC BENEFITS AND
THE FOUNDATION FOR A
LOW-CARBON ENERGY FUTURE

O

ver the past ten years, the U.S. economy has undergone a revolution
in the production and consumption of energy. Increasing production
of oil, natural gas, and renewable energy has contributed broadly to employ‑
ment and gross domestic product (GDP) growth during the recovery from
the Great Recession. Energy efficiency has increased, with gasoline con‑
sumption falling 2 percent over the last decade despite a 17 percent increase
in real GDP. Declining net oil imports have helped reduce the U.S. trade
deficit and improve energy security. On balance, the energy revolution lays
the foundation for U.S. leadership in global efforts to address climate change
and paves the way toward a low-carbon energy future.
Recent changes in the energy sector, and their consequences for
economic growth and combating climate change, have been remarkable.
Breakthroughs in unconventional oil and natural gas extraction technol‑
ogy have reversed the decades-long decline in their production. Continued
technological progress in wind, solar, and biofuels, as well as innovation
and deployment policies at the local, State, and Federal levels, has caused
an equally dramatic boom in the use of renewables. The composition of
the Nation’s energy sources has begun to shift: petroleum and coal are now
being replaced by the growing use of natural gas and renewables, which are
cleaner sources with lower, or even zero, carbon emissions. In 2014, renew‑
able energy sources accounted for one-half of new installed capacity, and
natural gas units comprised most of the remainder. These developments
have contributed to a dramatic drop in the price of oil amidst geopolitical
tension that might otherwise have caused oil prices to increase. Although oil
prices will continue to fluctuate, the energy-sector developments will have a

241

durable impact on our economy and our climate over the longer run regard‑
less of future fluctuations in the price of oil.
To further build on this progress, foster continuing economic growth,
and ensure that growth is sustainable for future generations, the President
will continue his aggressive All-of-the-Above strategy for a cleaner energy
future. The strategy has three elements, the first of which is to support
economic growth and job creation. Expanded production of oil, natural gas,
and renewables has raised employment in these industries during a period
of labor market slack. Technological innovation and greater production help
reduce energy prices, to the benefit of energy-consuming businesses and
households. These developments have contributed broadly to employment
and GDP growth, and will continue to do so.
The second element of the President’s energy strategy is improving
energy security. Lower net oil imports reduce the macroeconomic vulner‑
ability of the United States to foreign oil supply disruptions. In today’s
domestic liquid fuels markets and globally integrated oil markets, a sudden
international supply disruption means a sharp jump in prices. The combina‑
tion of declining gasoline demand, increasing domestic crude oil production,
and increasing use of biofuels, however, enhances the resilience of the U.S.
economy to these oil price shocks. Although international oil supply shocks
and oil price volatility will always present risks, reductions in net petroleum
imports and the lower domestic oil consumption will reduce those risks. To
further reduce net oil imports in the long run, the Administration has taken
steps to curb petroleum demand by aggressively raising standards for vehicle
fuel economy. Efforts are also being made to boost the use of biofuels, elec‑
tric vehicles, natural gas, and other petroleum substitutes.
The third element of the All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy addresses
the challenges of global climate change. The need to act now to stem cli‑
mate change is clear; delaying would only lead to larger costs for future
generations. Delaying action is costly because it means less incentive for
research and development of effective carbon-reducing technologies, while
at the same time encouraging investments in older and carbon-intensive
technologies. After having delayed, making up for lost time requires more
stringent and costly policies in the future. In practice, delay also may render
unrealistic the climate targets that are within reach today. Delaying action
imposes greater mitigation costs and economic damages than would have
otherwise occurred. Higher temperatures, more acidic oceans, and increas‑
ingly severe storms, droughts, and wildfires could all result from avoidable
higher greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy revolution lays the groundwork for reducing domestic
greenhouse gas emissions. From 2005 through 2012, the United States cut
242  |  Chapter 6

its total carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution by 12 percent, partly reflecting a
domestic shift toward cleaner natural gas, increased use of renewables, and
improved energy efficiency. Although the reductions in CO2 emissions rep‑
resent an historic shift from past trends, much more work remains.
The Climate Action Plan is the centerpiece of the President’s efforts
to confront climate change. With this plan, the President has put in motion
steps that will immediately and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emis‑
sions. These steps include direct regulation of emissions, such as the Clean
Power Plan, which will further the shift toward cleaner sources of electric‑
ity and complement carbon regulations already in place for other sectors,
such as fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for light, medium, and
heavy-duty vehicles.
The President’s Climate Action steps also include a strategy to reduce
methane emissions (a potent greenhouse gas). Through a recent announce‑
ment, the Administration identified opportunities to further reduce meth‑
ane emissions from the oil and gas sector; this topic is also a focus of the
Quadrennial Energy Review. Additionally, the Administration supports
research, development, and commercialization of technologies that help to
bring down the costs of renewables; for example, through solar programs
such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which seeks to
make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2020.
These efforts support continuing U.S. leadership in global efforts to address
climate change, as evidenced by the November 2014 joint announcement of
climate targets with China.
This chapter discusses the three elements of the All-of-the-Above
Energy Strategy, and takes stock of both the progress that has been made
to date and the work that remains to be done to transition to a low-carbon
energy system. The third element, laying the foundation for a clean energy
future, dovetails with the President’s Climate Action Plan, which is the
focus of the final section in this chapter. The chapter builds on two previous
Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) reports: The All-of-the-Above Energy
Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth (CEA 2014a), and The
Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change (CEA 2014b).

The Energy Revolution: Historical
Perspective and Economic Benefits
The Energy Revolution in Historical Perspective
Over the past two centuries, the amount of energy consumed in
the United States has increased dramatically and our energy sources have
The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 243
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

become more convenient. As Figure 6-1 shows, wood was the main U.S.
energy source through the middle of the 19th century. The use of coal rose
sharply through the early 20th century, plateaued, and then increased in
the 1970s for the generation of electricity. For most of the 20th century,
petroleum consumption grew sharply, dropping off temporarily after the oil
crises of the 1970s but then resuming its growth, albeit at a slower pace than
previously. Natural gas consumption spread during the second half of the
20th century, with greater use of this fuel in homes and industry and to meet
peak electricity demand. During the last quarter of the 20th century, nuclear
electricity generation burgeoned to the point that it now supplies 19 percent
of electricity, and wood—the original biofuel—saw a small regional resur‑
gence (primarily for home heating) because of the increases in home heat‑
ing oil prices in the 1970s. Meanwhile, production of renewables—which
includes biomass and biofuels, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and geothermal
energy—has approached nuclear energy production levels.
Energy consumption trends have already shifted dramatically in
the 21st century (Figure 6-1b): coal consumption dropped by 21 percent
between its 2005 peak and 2013; and total petroleum consumption declined
by 13 percent between its 2005 peak and 2013. Natural gas consumption has
risen sharply, with much of this increase displacing coal for electricity gen‑
eration. In addition, total energy obtained from renewables rose 77 percent
between 2005 and 2013.
The decline in petroleum consumption, starting in 2006, was unex‑
pected. In the case of energy, industry-standard benchmark projections are
produced annually by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its
Annual Energy Outlook. Revisions to those projections include the effects of
unforeseen developments in the energy sector. Figure 6-2a shows U.S. petro‑
leum consumption since 1950 and projected consumption from the 2006,
2010, and 2014 editions of the Annual Energy Outlook. Only nine years
ago, EIA projected an increase in petroleum consumption during the subse‑
quent 25 years. But events dramatically affected subsequent projections: by
2010, EIA had reduced both the level and rate of growth of its projection;
its 2014 outlook now projects petroleum consumption to decline through
2030 after a slight increase over the next five years. The reversal in projected
petroleum consumption is led by the reversal in actual and projected gaso‑
line consumption (Figure 6-2b): the 2014 EIA projection of consumption
in 2030 is 44 percent below the projection made in 2006. Actual gasoline
consumption declined between 2006 and 2010 mainly due to the recession
and rising fuel prices, but much of the revision to the 2030 levels reflects the
largely unexpected fuel economy improvements stemming from the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the Administration’s subsequent
244  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-1a
U.S. Energy Consumption by Source, 1775–2013

Quadrillion Btu

45
40

2013

Petroleum

35
30

Natural Gas

25

20

Coal

15
10

Renewable

Wood

5
0
1775

1800

1825

1850

1875

1900

1925

1950

1975

Nuclear

2000

Source: Energy Information Administration, Energy Perspectives (1949-2011) and Monthly Energy
Review (Dec 2014).

Figure 6-1b
U.S. Energy Consumption by Source, 2005–2013

Quadrillion Btu

45
40

Petroleum

35
30

2013

Natural Gas

25
20

Coal

15
Nuclear

10

Renewable

5
0

2005

2006

2007

Wood

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Source: Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review (Dec 2014).

2013

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 245
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-2a
U.S.Petroleum Consumption, 1950–2030

Million Barrels per Day
30

Actual

AEO Projections
2006 Reference
Case

25

2010 Reference
Case

20

2014 Reference
Case

15
10
5

0

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Figure 6-2b
U.S. Consumption of Motor Gasoline, 1950–2030

Million Barrels per Day
14

Actual

AEO Projections
2006 Reference
Case

12

2010
Reference
Case

10

8
2014 Reference
Case

6
4
2
0

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010 and 2014.

246  |  Chapter 6

tightening of those standards. The 2014 projections further reflect the 2012
light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions rate stan‑
dards, which apply to model years 2017 through 2025. The Administration’s
fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for medium and heavy-duty
trucks also contribute to the reduction in projected petroleum consumption
between the 2010 and 2014 Outlooks.
The recent increase in U.S. petroleum production was equally
unforeseen. As Figure 6-3 shows, domestic petroleum production peaked in
1970 at 11 million barrels per day (bpd). Production plateaued through the
mid-1980s and then declined steadily through the late 2000s as producers
depleted conventional domestic deposits. Since then, however, entrepre‑
neurs adapted horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that
had previously been more widely used for natural gas. The newer technology
enables the extraction of oil from within rocky formations once considered
uneconomic, like the Eagle Ford in Texas, and development of new regions
such as the Bakken in North Dakota. This chapter uses the term “uncon‑
ventional oil” to describe oil produced from shale and other relatively
impermeable formations, and produced using new drilling methods. These
unforeseen technological developments are recent: most of the revision to
EIA’s earlier projections has occurred since 2010, and now EIA projects
Figure 6-3
U.S. Petroleum Production, 1950–2030

Million Barrels per Day
15

Actual

AEO Projections
2014 Reference
Case

10

2010 Reference
Case
2006 Reference
Case

5

0

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010, and 2014.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 247
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

production to surpass its earlier 1970 peak this year. The EIA Reference case,
which includes the baseline assumptions, projects production to decline
slowly after 2019. But because extraction technology is still advancing, there
is considerable uncertainty about the United States’ economically recover‑
able resource potential.
The decline in demand for petroleum and increase in production
have triggered a sharp turnaround in net petroleum imports (Figure 6-4).
U.S. net petroleum imports fell from a peak of 12 million bpd in 2005 to 6
million bpd in 2013, representing a decrease of 6 million bpd compared to
EIA’s 2006 projection of 2013 imports. Comparing actual 2013 imports and
the 2006 projection of 2013 imports, roughly 4 million bpd, or 65 percent,
of the reduction stem from the fall in consumption; and 2 million bpd, or 35
percent, are due to the unforeseen increase in production.
The Administration has supported oil production on Federal and
Indian lands. In fiscal year 2013, onshore oil production on Federal and
Indian lands increased 58 percent compared with 2008. In 2014, the U.S.
Interior Department held 25 onshore lease sales, generating about $200
million in revenue for States, Tribes, and the American taxpayer. The
Administration has also promoted the environmentally responsible devel‑
opment of offshore resources through the Interior Department’s Five-Year
Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. In early 2015 the
Figure 6-4
U.S. Petroleum Net Imports, 1950–2030

Million Barrels per Day
20

Actual

AEO Projections

2006 Reference
Case

15
2010 Reference
Case

10

5

0

2014 Reference
Case

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010, and 2014.

248  |  Chapter 6

Interior Department announced a Draft Proposed Program for 2017 to 2022
that includes potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Alaska coast,
and in the Atlantic. Following the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, the
Interior Department has implemented new safety standards for new wells.
In 2014, the Interior Department issued 68 new deep water well permits.
The rise in unconventional natural gas production preceded the rise
in unconventional oil production (unconventional gas is defined similarly
to unconventional oil, as gas produced from impermeable formations using
new drilling methods). Figure 6-5, which presents domestic natural gas
production and historical EIA projections, shows that the EIA’s 2014 projec‑
tions indicate an upswing in natural gas production through 2030. Already,
well over one-half of natural gas production is from unconventional forma‑
tions (tight gas and shale gas), a fraction that is projected to increase as the
conventional resource base becomes less productive and competitive. The
resulting benefits of these innovations to natural gas producers and consum‑
ers are discussed in a subsequent subsection.
Domestic use of renewable energy sources has also increased substan‑
tially since 2000. Figure 6-6 shows that the use of liquid biofuels—primarily
ethanol from corn and biodiesel from various sources including waste oil
and soy oil—grew sharply in the mid-2000s. Several factors contributed
to this growth, including the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates

Trillion Cubic Feet
40

Figure 6-5
U.S. Natural Gas Production, 1950–2030

Actual AEO Projections
2014
Reference
Case

35
30

2010
Reference
Case

25

20

2006
Reference
Case

15
10
5

0

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010, and 2014.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 249
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-6
U.S. Fuel Ethanol and Biodiesel
Consumption, 1981–2013

Billion Gallons
16

2013

14
12

10
Fuel Ethanol

8
6

4
Biodiesel

2

0
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review (Dec 2014).

2010

ethanol volumes under the 2005 Energy Policy Act and was modified by
the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The combined effect of
increased production of natural gas, oil, and liquid biofuels has positioned
the United States as the leading petroleum, natural gas, and biofuels pro‑
ducer in the world (Figure 6-7).
The U.S. energy revolution also encompasses a dramatic rise in the
use of renewables for electricity generation. At the end of 2013, wind gen‑
eration capacity totaled 61 gigawatts, which was more than double its 2008
level.1 Wind generator construction has occurred throughout the Midwest,
Southwest, West Coast, and New England (Figure 6-8) and a record 13
gigawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in 2012 alone, roughly
double the amount of newly installed capacity in 2011. This new wind capac‑
ity represented the largest share of addition by a single fuel source to total
U.S. electric generation capacity in 2012. As a result, wind-powered electric‑
ity generation nearly tripled from a monthly rate of 17 thousand gigawatt
hours at the beginning of 2009 to 50 thousand gigawatt hours at the begin‑
ning of 2014 (Figure 6-9). Similarly, solar-powered electricity generation
nearly quadrupled from a monthly rate of just above two thousand gigawatt
hours to more than eight thousand gigawatt hours over the same period.
1 One gigawatt is equal to 1 billion watts, and is a common unit of generation capacity; the
entire U.S. power system contains roughly 1,100 gigawatts of installed capacity.

250  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-7
Petroleum, Biofuels, and Natural Gas Production, 2008–2013

Quadrillion Btu
50

U.S.
Russia

40
30
20
10
0

NG
Petroleum
and
biofuels

Saudi
Arabia
2.9

22.1

21.9

19.9

2008

Russia
U.S.

20.7

17.4

24.8
Saudi
Arabia

21.9

23.5

21.3

3.7

24.9

2013

Note: Petroleum production includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, condensates, refinery processing
gains and other liquids including biofuels.
Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 251
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-9
Total Monthly Wind and Solar Energy Production, 2000–2014

Thousand Gigawatt Hours
60

Sep-2014

50

40

Wind

30
20
Solar

10
0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

Source: Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review (Dec 2014).

2014

In 2013, wind accounted for 66 percent of non-hydro renewable electricity
generation, biomass for 24 percent, solar for 4 percent, and geothermal for 6
percent; between 2009 and 2013, wind and solar had the fastest growth rates
among non-hydro renewables.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 played a
significant role in the rising use of renewables for electricity generation.
Since the early 1990s, the Federal Government has helped spur most wind
and solar investments by offering tax credits. Investors in wind projects that
began construction before the end of 2013 received a tax credit of $23 for
each megawatt-hour of electricity generation; solar projects are currently
eligible for a tax credit of 30 percent of the up-front investment cost. The
Recovery Act provided eligible wind, solar, and other low-carbon projects
the option of a grant from the U.S. Treasury equal to 30 percent of the
project’s cost, rather than a tax credit. Since 2009, the program has provided
almost $22 billion in grants for 22 gigawatts of wind capacity and 5 gigawatts
of solar capacity. The President’s approach to business tax reform includes
proposals to make permanent and more effective tax incentives for renew‑
able energy (see further discussion in Chapter 5).

252  |  Chapter 6

GDP, Jobs, and the Trade Deficit
The U.S. energy revolution has contributed to economic growth, both
in terms of net economic output as measured by GDP and overall employ‑
ment. It has also contributed to a declining trade deficit as the Nation has
recovered from the Great Recession. CEA estimates that the oil and natural
gas sectors alone contributed more than 0.2 percentage point to real GDP
growth between 2012 and 2014, in contrast to a slight negative contribution
on average from 1995 to 2005 (Figure 6-10). The contribution between 2012
and 2014, which does not count all economic spillovers, added substantially
to the 2.4 percent average annualized rate of U.S. economic growth over
these three years.
Growth in oil and gas production has directly and indirectly created
jobs over the past several years. As Figure 6-11 shows, total employment in
the oil and natural gas industries, which includes extraction and support
activities, increased by 133,000 jobs between 2010 and 2013, and continued
to grow through 2014 (not shown); coal employment has also edged up only
slightly over this period. Much oil and gas job growth has been concentrated
in a handful of states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota that are at
the forefront of developing new energy resources (Cruz, Smith and Stanley
2014). The oil and gas employment increase in Figure 6-11 understates the

Percent
0.35

Figure 6-10
Contributions of Oil and Natural Gas Production
to GDP Growth, 1995–2014
0.29

0.30
0.25

0.22

0.22

2012

2013

0.20
0.15

0.09

0.10

0.05
0.00

-0.05

0.01
-0.02
'95-'05 2006

0.04

2008

0.04

0.03

2007

0.08

2009

2010

2011

2014

Note: CEA calculations use physical quantity data for oil and natural gas production and
implicitly include contributions from the sectors that service and sell equipment to the oil and
gas drilling industry. 2014 contribution is estimated based on partial data for the year as a
whole.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Spot Prices for Crude Oil and Petroleum Products
and Short-Term Energy Outlook (Jan 2015); CEA calculations.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 253
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-11
Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Employment, 1949–2013

Thousand Jobs
450

400

2013

350

Oil and Natural Gas

300
250
200

150

Coal

100
50
0
1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: Both series include extraction/mining as well as support activities for the industry.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics and National Industry Specific
Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.

full short-run effect of oil and gas development on U.S. employment for
two reasons. First, jobs have also been created in companies that provide
goods and services to the oil and gas industries, including manufacturing,
transportation, and leisure and hospitality. Second, workers in all of these
industries create additional jobs when they spend their incomes, as do State
and local governments that spend additional tax revenue. As a result, new
oil and gas regions have seen employment growth in schools, retail, health
care, and other sectors. Because of labor market slack reflected in elevated
unemployment rates during the recovery, the number of additional jobs
created by spending tax revenue and income could be quite large—perhaps
equal to one-half the increase in the oil and gas industries, or about 65,000
additional jobs in 2013 compared to 2010 (CEA 2014c).2
Expansion of renewable energy capacity has similarly contributed
to economic growth. Employment in the renewable sector spans several
categories in Federal data collection systems, which complicates direct esti‑
mation of job growth and output in the sector. However, trade association
data suggest that, in addition to rapid expansion in wind and solar electricity
generation, there has also been a sharp rise in employment. As Figure 6-12
shows, from 2010 to 2014, employment in the solar energy industry grew
by more than 85 percent. Moreover, employment in the solar industry is
2 CEA (2014c) provides estimates of the fiscal multiplier for the Recovery Act.

254  |  Chapter 6

Thousand Jobs
180

Figure 6-12
Solar-Related Employment, 2010–2014
174

160

143

140

119

120
100

94

105

80
60
40
20

0

2010
2011
2012
2013
Source: The Solar Foundation, National Solar Jobs Census 2014.

2014

projected to increase by another 21 percent in 2015.3 Wind industry employ‑
ment totaled roughly 50,000 workers in 2013.4 The solar and wind employ‑
ment levels are not directly comparable to the oil, gas, and coal employment
levels shown in Figure 6-11; the solar and wind employment figures include
a broader range of related activities.
The increase in domestic oil production, combined with reduced
demand for oil, has also led to a sharp drop in net petroleum imports and, as
a result, a decline in the Nation’s trade deficit. In 2006, the total trade deficit
was 5.4 percent of GDP, the highest ever recorded for the United States. By
the end of 2013, the trade deficit had fallen to 2.8 percent of GDP, which,
excluding the crisis-affected year of 2009, was the lowest since 1999 (Figure
6-13). While the U.S. trade balance is subject to a number of influences and
depends in large part on domestic and global macroeconomic conditions,
the rise in domestic energy production has been a substantial factor in the
recent improvement. Of the 2.7 percentage-point decline in the trade deficit
3 Estimates of employment related to the solar energy industry are from the Solar Foundation’s
2014 National Solar Jobs Census. The National Solar Jobs Census uses a statistical survey
methodology broadly comparable to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of
Employment and Wages and Current Employment Statistics surveys.
4 Estimates of national employment related to the wind power sector come from the 2013
American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 255
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Percent of GDP
6

Figure 6-13
Total and Petroleum Trade Deficits, 1995–2013

Total

5
4

2013

3

Petroleum

2
1
0
1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

2011

2013

Source: Census Bureau, U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services; Bureau of Economic Analysis,
National Income and Product Accounts.

since 2006, about 0.6 percentage point (or just over one-fifth) is accounted
for by a shrinking trade deficit in petroleum products.

Energy Prices, Households, and Businesses
Since 2006, natural gas prices have fallen well below crude oil prices
on an energy-equivalent basis, providing a cheaper source of energy to con‑
sumers and businesses in the United States (Figure 6-14). This price decrease
has created widespread benefits and opportunities for the U.S. economy.
The decrease in U.S. natural gas prices has opened a gap between U.S.
and international prices, presenting an export opportunity for domestic nat‑
ural gas producers (see Box 6-1). The gap reflects the undeveloped nature of
international gas markets combined with the expense of international trade.
Liquefaction, transportation from the United States to Europe, and regasifi‑
cation have been estimated to add $6 to $9 per million British Thermal
Unit (Btu), which would roughly double the price of U.S. gas entering the
pipeline in Europe relative to the Henry Hub price.5 Under the Natural Gas
Act of 1938, as amended, the Department of Energy (DOE) must authorize
any natural gas exports. As of November 2014, the DOE has conditionally
approved approximately 12 billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas
5 The Henry Hub price is a benchmark price for natural gas, and it measures the price at a
pipeline distribution point in Louisiana.

256  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-14
Annual Crude Oil and Natural Gas Spot Prices, 1995–2015

Dollars per Million Btu
20

Projected

18

Brent

16
14

WTI

12
10

8
6
4

Henry Hub

2
0
1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Source: Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (Jan 2015).

(LNG) export capacity, though the enormous capital expenditure required
for LNG facilities raises the possibility that some of this capacity might not
actually be built. Because of high transport costs, even if a global market for
LNG were to develop, domestic natural gas prices are likely to remain well
below prices in the rest of the world for an extended period of time.
Low wholesale natural gas prices broadly benefit the U.S. economy in
several direct and indirect ways. Residential natural gas prices have followed
the decline in wholesale natural gas prices, and the 12-month average price
has declined by 18 percent from its 2009 high (Figure 6-15a). Households,
which accounted for about one-fifth of U.S. natural gas consumption
in 2014, pay lower gas bills and can either spend or save the difference.
Commercial and industrial businesses, which accounted for about 40 per‑
cent of domestic consumption in 2014, also benefit from lower gas prices,
which raise business profits. Lower gas prices benefit consumers indirectly
to the extent that businesses pass on lower energy prices to consumers in the
form of lower product prices. Finally, low wholesale natural gas prices have
supported a switch in fuels in the electric power sector from coal to natural
gas. With natural gas prices falling from 2007 to 2012, retail electricity
prices have increased at a slower rate than they had during the previous 15
years (Figure 6-15b). In other words, electricity consumers—businesses and

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 257
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-15a
Wholesale and Residential Natural Gas Prices, 1995–2014

Dollars per Thousand Cubic Feet
20

Residential

16

12
Wholesale
8

4

0
1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Prices illustrated are twelve-month moving averages.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (Jan 2015).

Figure 6-15b
Retail Electricity Prices and Fuel Costs, 1995–2014

Dollars per Million Btu
15

Dollars per Million Btu
30

Retail Electricity (left axis)

25

Natural Gas (right axis)

20

10

5
Coal (right axis)

15
1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Prices illustrated are twelve-month moving averages.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (Jan 2015).

258  |  Chapter 6

0

Box 6-1: Natural Gas Exports
Over the last decade, U.S. natural gas production increased by
roughly 40 percent. This sharp increase in domestic production has
widened the gap between domestic natural gas prices and natural gas
prices in other countries (Figure 6-i), creating potential profitable
export opportunities for domestic natural gas producers. In 2014, the
United States surpassed Qatar to become the world’s largest exporter
of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG),1 for which there is already export
capacity in the Gulf region for 400 thousand barrels per day (bpd), with
another 700 thousand bpd expected by 2016. The Energy Information
Administration (EIA) projects that the United States will become a net
exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2016 (Figure 6-ii). However,
expansion of U.S. natural gas exports requires both governmental action
and the construction of additional exporting infrastructure.
Figure 6-i
Natural Gas Prices in the United States,
United Kingdom, and Japan, 2010–2014

Dollars per Million Btu
20
18

Japan LNG

Dec- 2014

16

14

UK (NBP)

12
10

8

US (Henry Hub)

6
4

2
0
2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Note: UK's prices do not include natural gas imported from Russia which is predominately
indexed to oil prices. Japanese prices are monthly averages. All series are represented as
30-day moving averages.
Source: Bloomberg.

Both transportation costs and government-imposed barriers to
trade have caused prices among countries to differ. The gap between U.S.
natural gas prices and prices in other countries reflects two main trade
impediments. First, transportation costs—liquefaction, transportation
abroad, and regasification—roughly double the price of gas entering
Europe relative to the price at its origin in the United States. Transport
charges must cover substantial infrastructure investments and capital
1 A group of hydrocarbon gases derived from crude oil refining or natural gas processing.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 259
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

expenditure—for example, the cost of building a liquefaction terminal
that can export up to 2.76 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day for 20 years
can be around $12 billion.2 The second impediment is the Natural Gas
Act of 1938 (NGA) and subsequent amendments, which restrict natural
gas exports. Under the NGA, natural gas exports require approval from
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).3 As of November 2014, DOE
has approved applications for the export of about 12 bcf per day of
LNG, although some of the approvals are contingent on approval by
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Because the recent techno‑
logical developments have given the United States a natural comparative
advantage in gas production over importing regions, both trade impedi‑
ments – natural and government mandated – depress U.S. gas prices
relative to those paid abroad.
What will happen as more export infrastructure comes on line
and DOE approves higher volumes of gas exports? When barriers to
trade are reduced between a low-cost country (the United States) and
Figure 6-ii
U.S. Natural Gas Production and Net Exports, 2000–2030

Trillion Cubic Feet
35

Actual

Projected

30

Production

25
20
15
10

5

LNG Net Exports

Total Net
Exports

0
-5
2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

2025

2030

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (2014).

2 Over 15 bcf per day of export capacity is under construction or has been proposed,
though cost considerations make it unlikely that all proposed projects will be completed. By
comparison, the United States produces almost 70 bcf per day.
3 Approval is even required for exports to countries with which the U.S. has a free trade
agreement, though an amendment to the NGA in 1992 required that applications to
authorize exports to free trade partners be granted without modification or delay. As
a result, conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership would vastly increase the range of countries to which U.S. producers
could export without administrative barriers (see Chapter 7).

260  |  Chapter 6

high-cost countries (importers in the rest of the world), basic economic
theory predicts a convergence of prices. As U.S. natural gas enters the
global market, it will increase global supply and push global prices down.
Meanwhile, domestic prices will rise as natural gas leaves the domestic
market, reducing supply in the United States. A recent study by EIA
estimates that an increase in exports of 12 bcf per day by 2020 would
raise U.S. residential retail prices by 2 percent between 2015 and 2040,
although the EIA considers such a large exports increase by 2020 to be
almost impossible. An increase in U.S. exports of natural gas, and the
resulting price changes, would have a number of mostly beneficial effects
on natural gas producers, employment, U.S. geopolitical security, and
the environment.
•	 Higher prices for domestic producers increase domestic
production. Increased production, in turn, spurs investment, increasing
U.S. GDP. EIA (2014) estimates that the increase in GDP could range
from 0.05 percent to 0.17 percent in different export scenarios ranging
from 12 to 20 bcf per year, phased in at different rates beginning in 2015.
•	 An increase in exports can create jobs in the short run.
Estimates suggest that natural gas exports of six bcf per year could sup‑
port as many as 65,000 jobs (Levi 2012). These jobs would arise both in
gas production and along the supply chain (for example, in manufactur‑
ing machines and parts used as downstream inputs).
•	 Lower natural gas prices around the world have a positive
geopolitical impact for the United States. Increased U.S. supply builds
liquidity in the global natural gas market, and reduces European depen‑
dence on the current primary suppliers, Russia and Iran.
•	 More U.S. exports could help promote the use of cleaner
energy abroad, including in developing countries that now rely heavily
on coal. Lower foreign emissions would help to counteract global warm‑
ing and therefore are a direct benefit for the United States. As natural gas
becomes cheaper for the rest of the world, countries overseas will replace
dirtier, coal-fired power with natural gas. Cheaper natural gas could also
replace low-carbon sources and increase electricity consumption abroad;
the net global impact is ambiguous. The effects of the natural gas price
increase in the United States are also complex. Higher gas prices tend to
curb overall emissions by reducing total energy consumption and induc‑
ing substitution toward renewable sources of power. However, higher
prices might also cause some U.S. substitution toward coal, raising our
emissions.
•	 U.S. manufacturers would still have a competitive cost advantage in natural gas, albeit smaller than what they would otherwise
have. Because of transportation costs, in equilibrium, U.S. natural

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 261
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

gas prices would still be expected to be persistently lower than prices
overseas. The cost advantage, however, would be smaller than it would
otherwise be—but any potential impact on manufacturing is likely to be
small because in 2010, on average, the cost of natural gas represented less
than 2 percent of the value of manufacturing shipments. This suggests
that a 2 percent increase in the price of natural gas would raise average
production costs by only about 0.04 percent. For the most intensive
users—such as producers of flat glass or nitrogen fertilizers—the increase
in costs will be higher. But these gas-intensive industries represent only
a small share of total manufacturing employment and output. In par‑
ticular, the top 15 gas-intensive industries account for only 2 percent of
total manufacturing employment and 3 percent of manufacturing value
added. Businesses with very thin profit margins may also be adversely
affected. In contrast, expanded natural gas exports will create new jobs in
a range of sectors including natural gas extraction, infrastructure invest‑
ment, and transportation.

households—have also benefited from the slower growth of electricity prices
caused by lower wholesale natural gas prices.
Oil prices decreased dramatically in the second half of 2014. Box 6-2
shows the drop in crude prices, and notes the range of global factors behind
the drop, including the boom in U.S. oil production. Retail gasoline prices
are closely linked to global crude oil prices, so households now pay less for
gasoline. Seasonally adjusted gasoline prices decreased by roughly $0.80 per
gallon between June and December 2014. EIA estimates that lower gasoline
prices in 2015, compared to 2014, will save the average household about
$750. Oil-consuming businesses would also enjoy huge gains—in the tens of
billions of dollars. In addition, the fact that lower oil prices are expected to
boost the global economy will create additional spillovers for U.S. economic
activity by creating higher demand for the products and services we export.
On the other hand, these gains are partially offset by the fact that lower crude
oil prices reduce the profits and investments of oil producers. On net, how‑
ever, the recent oil price decrease benefits the U.S. economy (see Chapter 2
for further discussion of the macroeconomic effects of oil prices).

Infrastructure Implications of the Energy Revolution
Expanding domestic energy supply has challenged the U.S. energy
infrastructure in different ways. Since some of the best wind and solar
resources are located far from population and economic hubs, adding sub‑
stantially more wind and central-station solar generation usually requires

262  |  Chapter 6

Box 6-2: U.S. Oil Production in a Global
Perspective, and Implications for U.S. GDP
U.S. crude oil production has expanded dramatically since 2008.
Technological innovations in horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing,
and seismic imaging have led to a surge in domestic production from an
average of about 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to more than 7 million
barrels per day in 2013. Figure 6-iii shows that this growth is largely a
U.S. phenomenon. Excluding the United States, the top 15 oil-producing
countries experienced an average increase of 0.2 million barrels per day
between 2008 and 2013, compared to the 2.4 million barrel per day
increase experienced in the United States.
Figure 6-iii
Global Crude Oil Production Growth, 2008–2013

Change in Production, Million Barrels per Day
3
2.4
2.5
2

1.5

1

0.5

0

0.7 0.7 0.7

0.4 0.4
0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1
0.1
-0.1 -0.2
-0.3

-0.5

-1

-0.9

-1.5

Top 15 Crude Oil Producing Countries

Note: Production includes crude oil and lease condensates.
Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics.

Crude oil prices decreased dramatically in the second half of 2014.
Between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014, prices were typically between
$100 and $120 per barrel (see Figure 6-iv). Crude prices—as measured by
the Brent price index, which is a standard global price index—dropped
40 percent between August and the end of December, to about $60 per
barrel. Explanations for this price decline include: the major gains in U.S.
oil production over the last several years; recent decreases in forecasted
global oil demand; and sustained, high levels of production from the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that has,
in fact, produced above its official target in each month from April to
October and decided in November not to reduce this target.
Lower crude oil prices have translated into lower prices for petro‑
leum products like gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, and jet fuel

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 263
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Dollars per Barrel

Figure 6-iv
Brent Crude Weekly Spot Prices, 2014

115
105
95
85
75
65
55

Week-Ended
Dec 26
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Source: Energy Information Administration, Spot Prices for Crude Oil and Petroleum Products.

(Figure 6-v). In the United States, gasoline accounts for about one-half
of crude oil consumption, distillates (diesel and heating oil) for about
20 percent, and propane and jet fuel for about 6 and 7 percent. Lower
petroleum product prices increase households’ real income and boost
businesses’ profits, which translate into higher GDP. Prices fell roughly
$40 per barrel between August and the end of 2014. Chapter 2 provides
an estimate that, if this price decrease is sustained for the next year, GDP
will be 0.4 percentage point higher in 2015 that it would be if oil prices
were to remain at their mid-2014 levels.
Figure 6-v
Petroleum Product Weekly Prices, 2014

Dollars per Gallon, Excluding Taxes
3.50
3.00

Retail Gasoline

Diesel

2.50

Jet Fuel
Heating Oil

2.00
1.50

Week-Ended
Dec 26

Propane

1.00
0.50
0.00

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Note: Retail gasoline price excluding taxes calculated using the state average for local, state, and
federal gasoline taxes from the American Petroleum Institute.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Spot Prices for Crude Oil and Petroleum Products;
American Petroleum Institute.

264  |  Chapter 6

new construction or upgrades of existing transmission lines. For example,
installed wind generator capacity in Texas grew between 2000 and 2008
from 0.17 gigawatts to 10 gigawatts, but most of the new generators were
installed in West Texas. Little existing transmission capacity connected the
wind generators to electricity demand centers in East Texas. During certain
times, such as at night or during the spring, available wind generation in the
West exceeded local electricity demand. If there had been sufficient trans‑
mission capacity, the excess wind generation could have been transported to
East Texas, relieving fossil fuel-fired generators there. But because transmis‑
sion capacity did not keep pace with wind generation, electricity costs and
emissions were higher than they needed to be. Texas recently completed
a major transmission project that alleviates these problems, providing
an important example of infrastructure investments that can support the
energy revolution.
Another reason for insufficient infrastructure is that much of the
recent growth in natural gas and oil production has occurred in regions
with little recent history of energy production. Oil production in North
Dakota increased from 0.1 million bpd in January 2008 to 1.2 million bpd
in October 2014. However, transportation bottlenecks have contributed to
crude oil prices, particularly in the U.S. interior, falling below international
benchmarks. Responding to these bottlenecks, according to EIA estimates,
shipments of crude oil by rail increased from nearly zero to about 750 thou‑
sand bpd during roughly the same time period. Recent high-profile rail acci‑
dents involving crude oil shipments have raised concerns about the safety
and environmental consequences of increasing reliance on rail for shipping
crude. Recognizing these concerns, the Department of Transportation
recently proposed strengthened safety regulations for rail cars transporting
crude oil and other flammable materials.
The Administration launched the first Quadrennial Energy Review in
January 2014, in part to support long-term planning of energy infrastruc‑
ture. The first phase of the Review, to be completed by early 2015, focuses
on infrastructure for energy transport, storage, and distribution. Subsequent
phases will address other dimensions of U.S. energy security and sustain‑
ability, thereby providing a multiyear roadmap for Federal energy policy.

The Energy Revolution and Energy
Security: A Macroeconomic Perspective
The term energy security is used to mean different things in dif‑
ferent contexts, and broadly covers energy supply availability, reliability,

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 265
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

affordability, and geopolitical considerations.6 This section focuses on
macroeconomic energy security, which means the extent to which a coun‑
try’s economy is exposed to energy supply risks—specifically, international
energy supply disruptions that lead to product unavailability, price shocks,
or both. The concept of macroeconomic energy security encompasses
domestic risks as well as international supply risks such as disruptions
to foreign oil production. In the United States, domestic energy security
considerations are important and domestic supply breakdowns can have
large costs. For example, CEA and DOE, and other Federal agencies, have
estimated substantial costs of electricity-grid outages associated with storms
(CEA/DOE 2013). Historically, however, energy supply disruptions of for‑
eign origin have had the greatest overall macroeconomic impact. Foreign oil
supply disruptions played a role in the recessions of the 1970s as well as the
1990-91 recession, though disagreement remains about the magnitude of
that role. For this reason, this section focuses on the vulnerability of the U.S.
economy to international energy supply disruptions rather than to domestic
ones.
Because most U.S. energy import dollars are spent on petroleum, the
main threats to U.S. macroeconomic energy security come from interna‑
tional oil supply disruptions. During the 1973-74 OPEC oil embargo, price
controls and lack of product led to gasoline rationing and long lines at
service stations. But in today’s global oil market with many producers and
domestically deregulated petroleum prices, petroleum products will still be
available in the event of a foreign supply disruption, just at a higher price.
Today, macroeconomic energy security concerns the resilience of the U.S.
economy to temporary unexpected price hikes—price shocks—of foreign
origin.
Historically, temporary oil price shocks arising from foreign supply
disruptions have cut GDP growth and reduced employment. These events
have been studied and debated in depth in the economics literature (see
Hamilton 2009 and Kilian 2008b, 2014 for surveys). Table 6-1 presents a list
of the major oil supply disruptions from 1973 to 2005 identified in Kilian
6 In a joint statement released May 6, 2014, the G-7 energy ministers stated: “We believe that
the path to energy security is built on a number of core principles: Development of flexible,
transparent and competitive energy markets, including gas markets; Diversification of energy
fuels, sources and routes, and encouragement of indigenous sources of energy supply; Reducing
our greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy, as a key
contribution to enduring energy security; Enhancing energy efficiency in demand and supply,
and demand response management; Promoting deployment of clean and sustainable energy
technologies and continued investment in research and innovation; Improving energy systems
resilience by promoting infrastructure modernization and supply and demand policies that
help withstand systemic shocks; [and] Putting in place emergency response systems, including
reserves and fuel substitution for importing countries, in case of major energy disruptions.”

266  |  Chapter 6

Table 6-1
Major Oil Disruptions, 1973–2005
Event Name

Date

Duration
(months)

Gross Peak
Global
Supply Loss
(millions of
barrels per day)

Arab Oil Embargo
& Arab-Israeli War

Oct-73 to Mar-74

6

4.3

45%

Iranian Revolution

Nov-78 to Apr-79

6

5.6

53%

Iran-Iraq War

Oct-80 to Jan-81

3

4.1

40%

Persian Gulf War

Aug-90 to Jan-91

6

4.3

32%

Civil Unrest in
Venezuela

Dec-02 to Mar-03

4

2.6

28%

Iraq War

Mar-03 to Dec-03

10

2.3

28%

Percent Change
in Oil Prices

Source: Events as identified in Kilian (2008a) and Hamilton (2009). Dates and gross peak supply
loss figures as identified in IEA(2012). Price changes for events over select windows as specified in
Hamilton (2009) and price changes before 1982 measured using crude petroleum PPI as in Hamilton
(2009).

(2008a) and Hamilton (2009), the estimated gross peak global supply loss,
and the percentage change in oil prices in the aftermath of the disruption.
For example, in the months following the Iranian Revolution in November
1978, oil prices increased by 53 percent. This link is not perfect, and not
every oil price shock has led to an economic slowdown, but as is discussed
below in more detail, the empirical evidence points to a negative link
between oil price spikes and economic activity.

Trends in Oil Import Prices and Shares
The price of oil plays a central role in macroeconomic energy security.
Figure 6-16 shows the price of oil in nominal (current) dollars and in 2013
dollars (deflated by the price index for consumer spending). Jumps in the
price of oil are visible around the disruptions described in Table 6-1, as
well as during more gradual increases such as in 2007 to 2008. Oil prices in
November 2014, of roughly $75 per barrel, are comparable, in real terms,
The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 267
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Figure 6-16
WTI Spot Price: Nominal and Real, 1970–2014

Dollars per Barrel
160
140

Nov-2014

120
100

Real 2013 Dollars

80
60

40
Nominal

20

0
1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: Nominal prices deflated using overall PCE price index.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Spot Prices for Crude Oil and Petroleum
Products; Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures.

with those in the early 1980s, but are roughly twice the real prices of the
1990s.
The expenditure share of net petroleum imports measures the frac‑
tion of GDP that is spent on net imports of petroleum. Ignoring compo‑
sitional differences, this share is the product of net barrels of petroleum
imports times the price per barrel, divided by GDP. Figure 6-17 presents
two measures of the expenditure share of GDP that is net imports. The
first uses a narrow definition of net imports of crude, gasoline, distillates,
and fuel oil. The second, which is only available starting in 1973, uses a
broader definition that includes other refined products, such as jet fuel.
The alternative definition slightly increases the share relative to the narrow
measure but does not materially change the overall time series pattern. In
order to observe longer-term movements, the Figure also presents smoothed
trends of the two measures, which reduce the influence of high frequency
fluctuations in these series due to short-term price volatility. During the
1990s, the price of oil was low even though physical imports were higher
than in previous years, which kept the expenditure share relatively low. In
contrast, between early 2011 and mid-2014, high oil prices have produced a
relatively high expenditure share, though this share has declined noticeably
over the past few years as domestic demand has declined and domestic oil
production has increased. The high correlation of the net import share with

268  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-17
Net Import Shares of Petroleum Products, 1950–2013

Percent of GDP
4

Broader Definition
3

2013:Q4

2

1

0
1950

Narrow Definition

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Source: Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review (Apr 2014); CEA
calculations.

price indicates that the short-term price elasticity of demand for petroleum
products is quite low, meaning that consumers do not reduce their demand
very much when the price rises.

Macroeconomic Channels of Oil Price Shocks
Oil price shocks can affect GDP through several channels, including
demand for goods and services, supply (production), and physical product
rationing. As Kilian (2009) and Blinder (2009) point out, these channels are
conceptually distinct and can have different macroeconomic effects.
Via the demand channel, an increase in the price of oil reduces spend‑
ing on other goods and services, reducing GDP. Because, as noted above,
the short-run demand for petroleum products is quite price-inelastic, the
share of expenditures by consumers and firms on petroleum rises when
the oil price increases.7 Because the United States is a net importer of oil,
expenditures on net imports also rise when the oil price increases. If the oil
shock is known to be temporary, the life-cycle theory of consumption sug‑
7 For example, Kilian and Murphy (2014) estimate the short-run price elasticity of demand for oil
to be approximately -0.3, meaning that a one percent oil price increase reduces consumption by
0.3 percent. Earlier estimates show short-run elasticities of even smaller magnitudes. If demand
for energy-intensive imported products is similarly insensitive to price changes, an oil price
increase would strongly raise U.S. spending on those imported products and therefore strongly
diminish the income available to spend on other goods.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 269
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

gests that consumers would make minimal adjustments to the rest of their
consumption and would temporarily finance the additional oil expenditure
by drawing down savings. However, in practice consumers do not know
the duration of a price hike and many, or most, would instead reduce their
consumption of other goods and services to pay for the more expensive
fuel needed for daily life. Because expenditures on oil imports go abroad
and not to the domestic economy, the additional spending on fuel does not
count toward GDP. As a result, the immediate effect of a price increase on
an imported good like oil, which has price-inelastic demand, is to decrease
consumption of domestic goods and services and, as a result, to decrease
GDP. This demand-reducing effect works just as if consumers’ wealth had
been reduced, so this channel is sometimes referred to as the wealth channel.
The wealth channel can be large; for instance, if net oil imports are 2 percent
of GDP, as they were in the late 1970s and late 2000s, a 10-percent jump in
the price of oil causes a corresponding reduction in spending on everything
else and reduces GDP by about 0.2 percent. The wealth channel can be offset
by other factors, however, depending on the source of the oil price increase.
For example, an increase in overall world economic activity that drives up
the demand for, and the price of, oil would also expand U.S. exports, at least
partially offsetting the macroeconomic effects of the increased price of oil
imports.
There are two other ways, besides the wealth effect, by which an oil
price increase can affect demand. First, an oil price increase, like a change in
the relative price of any other good, also changes the composition of demand
as consumers shift spending from items that are indirectly affected by the
price increase (like air travel and cars with low fuel economy) to goods and
services that are less energy-intensive. Thus, products of energy-intensive
sectors become relatively more expensive and those sectors will see a reduc‑
tion in demand. Even within sectors, demand can shift across products, such
as to cars with greater fuel economy. Moreover, to the extent that shifting
from energy-intensive goods reduces purchases of durables such as automo‑
biles or refrigerators, spending today is shifted into the future, depressing
aggregate demand. Although this temporal shift increases demand in less
energy-intensive sectors, it takes time for displaced workers to find alterna‑
tive employment in those sectors, so incomes decline and unemployment
rises (see for example Hamilton 1988).
Second, an oil price increase can depress domestic demand if it raises
uncertainty. Concerns about the economic future can lead consumers to
postpone major purchases and convince firms to postpone investment and
hiring, which slows the economy (for example, Bernanke 1983, Dixit and
Pindyck 1994, Bloom 2009; and for oil investment specifically, Kellogg
270  |  Chapter 6

2010). Oil price volatility can be causal (the volatility creates uncertainty
that postpones investment, hiring, or durables consumption), or the volatil‑
ity can simply reflect broader market uncertainty about future economic or
geopolitical events. Another potential demand-side channel is a fall in aggre‑
gate consumption because an oil price rise is regressive and transfers income
from individuals with a high marginal propensity to consume to individuals
with a lower marginal propensity to consume (for example, Nordhaus 2007).
Oil price increases can also reduce economic activity through the
supply side of the economy. To the extent that energy prices more broadly
move with oil prices, an increase in oil prices makes energy a more expensive
factor of production and increases costs to businesses and households, who
will strive to reduce energy consumption and expenditures. Although high
energy prices could cause firms and households to shift toward less energyintensive technology in the long run; in the short run, with fixed technol‑
ogy, higher energy costs can result in layoffs in energy-intensive firms and
industries (Linn 2008 and 2009). Because it takes time for displaced workers
to find jobs, incomes decline and unemployment rises. This supply-side
channel matters most if price increases are long lasting. Because capital and
labor are being used less efficiently, this channel also could harm productiv‑
ity growth. However, because of economy-wide improvements in energy
efficiency over the last several decades, as shown in Figure 6-19 below, this
supply-side channel is less important today than it has been in the past.
The channels discussed above concern changes in the relative price
of oil and assume that oil is available. If, however, prices are not flexible
and instead oil or petroleum products are rationed, the effect on GDP can
be severe. On the production side, because technology is fixed in the short
run, many workers cannot do their jobs without oil. Time spent waiting in
line for gasoline is time not spent productively. In such cases, output falls,
and even relatively small dollar volumes of unavailable supply can have an
outsized influence on the economy. Fortunately, the development of global
crude oil markets and deregulated domestic retail markets have made wide‑
spread petroleum product rationing a thing of the past, outside of occasional
temporary regional events stemming from weather-related supply chain dis‑
ruptions. Such events can have significant, even life-threatening impacts on
the individuals involved, and minimizing those impacts through improving
supply chain resilience is an important goal (and indeed is a central topic of
the Quadrennial Energy Review). But the temporary nature of these events
and regional scope means that the macroeconomic impact of the resulting
petroleum product unavailability is limited.
CEA (2014a) presents reduced-form empirical evidence on the
relative importance of the different effects of energy supply shocks on the
The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 271
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

U.S. economy and on the changing correlations among energy prices. The
results of this analysis suggest that a lower share of net oil imports in GDP
enhances the resilience of the economy to oil price shocks. Specifically, the
same oil-price increase reduces GDP much less in 2015 than it did in 2006,
and will reduce GDP even less at the lower import level that EIA projects for
2017. This analysis suggests that the unconventional oil boom and lower oil
demand have significantly improved U.S. energy security.

A Path to a Low-Carbon Future
Most anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are energy-related,
particularly from the combustion of fossil fuels (EPA 2010). A central chal‑
lenge of energy and environmental policy is to find a responsible path that
balances the economic benefits of low-cost energy with the social and envi‑
ronmental costs to future generations associated with conventional energy
production. Addressing these challenges is a central part of the President’s
All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy, which several recent policy achievements
demonstrate. As part of the 2009 Conference of the Parties to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, the
United States pledged to cut its CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions
in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Under the President’s
Climate Action Plan, the United States is expected to meet this target.
Moreover, in November 2014 President Obama and President Xi Jinping
of China jointly announced historic post-2020 climate targets. Specifically,
China committed to peak its emissions by around 2030 and to double the
share of non-fossil (nuclear and renewable) energy in its overall economy
from about 10 percent today to around 20 percent by 2030. At the same time,
the United States announced a new goal to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent
below 2005 levels by 2025. The United States and China also agreed to work
together on energy innovation and toward a successful global agreement as
part of the continuing United Nations climate negotiations.

A Case for Climate Action
From an economist’s perspective, greenhouse gas emissions generate
a negative externality. A negative externality occurs when the production
or consumption of a good imposes harm on individuals not involved in
the production or consumption of that good. For example, a business
burning oil to run a generator or a person driving a gasoline-powered car
emits greenhouse gasses, which negatively affect other people—including
future generations. Economically efficient policies to address this negative
externality would require those responsible—the business burning the oil or
272  |  Chapter 6

the person driving the car—to pay the true cost of their additional—or mar‑
ginal—emissions, which takes into account the harm they caused to third
parties. Compelling businesses and individuals to pay the true incremental
costs encourages them to produce and consume less of the fuels, and also
encourages technological solutions that reduce the externality, such as cars
with higher fuel economy. On a larger scale, greenhouse gas emissions from
the United States affect residents in other countries and vice versa. In fact,
U.S. emissions have the same effect on the global climate as emissions from
any other country. Putting a price on emissions that is equal to the global
cost of an additional ton of emissions would cause those responsible for the
emissions to pay the incremental costs of their actions.
A recent CEA report (2014b) examines the economic consequences
of delaying implementing such policies and reaches two main conclusions,
both of which point to the benefits of swiftly implementing mitigation poli‑
cies and to the high costs of delaying such actions. First, although delaying
action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit the
effects of climate change is costly. Because CO2 accumulates in the atmo‑
sphere, delay allows CO2 concentrations to increase more quickly. Thus, if a
policy delay ultimately leads to higher future CO2 concentrations, that delay
produces persistent economic damages due to the higher temperatures and
CO2 concentrations that result. Alternatively, if a delayed policy still aims to
achieve a given climate target, such as limiting CO2 concentration to a given
level, then a delay means that when implemented, the policy must be more
stringent and thus more costly in subsequent years. In either case, delay is
costly.
Costs of delay will take the form of either greater damages from
climate change or higher costs associated with implementing more rapid
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In practice, both forms are pos‑
sible and potentially large. Based on a leading aggregate damage estimate
in the climate economics literature, a delay that results in warming of 3°
Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, could increase economic
damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output (CEA 2014b, based
on Nordhaus 2013). To put this percentage in perspective, 0.9 percent of
estimated 2014 U.S. GDP is approximately $150 billion. The incremental
cost of an additional degree of warming beyond 3° Celsius would be even
greater. Moreover, these costs are not one-time, but instead are incurred
year after year because of the recurring damage caused by permanently
increased climate warning resulting from the delay.
An analysis of research on the effect of delay on the cost of achieving a
specified climate target (typically, a given concentration of greenhouse gases)
suggests that net mitigation costs increase, on average, by approximately 40
The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 273
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

percent for each decade of delay (CEA 2014b). These costs are higher for
more aggressive climate goals: since each year of delay means more CO2
emissions, it becomes increasingly difficult, or even infeasible, to hit a cli‑
mate target that would result in only moderate temperature increases.
The second conclusion explained in the CEA report (2014b) is that
climate policy can be thought of as “climate insurance” taken out against
the most severe and irreversible potential consequences of climate change.
Events such as the rapid melting of ice sheets and the consequent swell in
global sea levels, or temperature rises on the higher end of the range of
scientific uncertainty, could pose such severe economic consequences that
they could reasonably be thought of as climate catastrophes. Reducing the
possibility of such climate catastrophes will require taking prudent steps
now to reduce the future chances of the most severe consequences of climate
change. The longer that action is postponed, the greater the concentration
of CO2 in the atmosphere will be and the greater the risk of severe climate
events. Just as businesses and individuals guard against severe financial risks
by purchasing various forms of insurance, policymakers can take actions
now that reduce expected climate damages. And, unlike conventional insur‑
ance policies, climate policy that serves as climate insurance is an investment
that also leads to cleaner air (Parry et al. 2014), energy security, and benefits
that are difficult to monetize, such as biological diversity.
Two other recent reports underscore these conclusions about the
cost of delaying climate action. As part of the Fifth Assessment Report, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its
Synthesis Report, which integrates the Fifth Assessment’s separate reports on
physical science, impacts, and mitigation (released over the past two years).
The Synthesis Report summarizes the literature quantifying the impacts of
projected climate change by sector. Impacts include: decreased agricultural
production; coastal flooding, erosion, and submergence; increases in heatrelated illness and other stresses due to extreme weather events; reduction
in water availability and quality; displacement of people and increased risk
of violent conflict; and species extinction and biodiversity loss. Although
effects vary by region, and some are not well-understood, evidence of these
impacts has grown in recent years. The IPCC also cites simulation studies
showing that delay is costly, both when all countries delay action and when
there is partial delay, with some countries delaying action while awaiting a
more coordinated international effort; CEA (2014b) expands on that analy‑
sis by including additional studies.
Combining climate projections with empirically based estimates of
the links between climate and the U.S. economy, the Risky Business report
(Risky Business Project 2014) echoes many of the IPCC’s conclusions. The
274  |  Chapter 6

Risky Business report predicts that, in the coming decades, climate change
will likely impose significant costs on many regions and facets of the U.S.
economy. The report describes the effects of rising sea levels, storms and
flooding, and droughts and extreme heat waves. The report’s authors esti‑
mate that $66 billion to $106 billion of existing coastal property will likely
be below sea level by 2050. Within just the next 15 years, the average costs
of coastal storms on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico will likely increase
by $2 billion to $3.5 billion a year. By 2050, the average American likely will
annually experience two to three times more days that reach 95°F, to the
detriment of human health and labor productivity. Higher temperatures and
different weather patterns likely will affect agricultural productivity—with
gains for Northern farmers and losses for Midwestern and Southern farmers.
Overall, the report emphasizes the considerable risk that climate change is
imposing on the U.S. economy.

The Climate Action Plan
Recognizing the case for immediate and strong climate action, the
President called on Congress in his 2013 State of the Union address to pass
legislation that would provide a market-based mechanism for reducing
emissions. Thus far, Congress has failed to act but the President has taken
other actions, including direct regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under
the Clean Air Act.8
To address the broad challenges associated with climate change, the
President’s Climate Action Plan has three central goals: a) reduce domestic
emissions, b) prepare for the impacts of climate change, and c) provide
international leadership to address climate change. The remainder of this
8 Regulations have costs and benefits, and computing the monetary benefits of reducing CO2
emissions requires an estimate of the net present value of the economic cost of an additional, or
marginal, ton of CO2 emissions. This cost—which covers health, property damage, agricultural
impacts, the value of ecosystem services, and other costs of climate change—is often referred to
as the “social cost of carbon” (SCC). In 2010, a Federal interagency working group, led by the
CEA and the Office of Management and Budget, produced a Technical Support Document that
outlined a methodology for estimating the SCC and provided numeric estimates (White House
2010). Since then, the SCC has been used at various stages of rulemaking by the Department of
Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy. The SCC
estimate is updated as the science and models underlying the SCC progress, and in November
2013 public comments were invited on the most recent update of the SCC, which produced an
estimate of $39 per metric ton CO2 in 2015 (2011 dollars). The SCC increases over time as the
economy grows and emissions cause greater damage, and reaches $76 per metric ton CO2 in
2050.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is likely to yield additional benefits, besides the climate
benefits, which are often referred to as co-benefits (Parry et al. 2014). For example, policies that
reduce fuel consumption at coal-fired electricity generators cause lower emissions of particulates
and other pollutants that harm human health.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 275
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

section describes the initiatives under the first goal, reducing domestic emis‑
sions. As explained below, the first part of the Climate Action Plan includes
a broad range of actions, from providing research, demonstration, and
deployment funding for new energy technologies to the direct regulation of
carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. For example, in the Clean Power
Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations to
reduce electricity-sector CO2 emissions. The proposal is projected to reduce
CO2 emissions by about 30 percent from 2005 levels, and the total benefits
of emissions reductions are expected easily to outweigh the costs. Box 6-3
provides a list of selected initiatives under the Climate Action Plan.
To date, the United States has made important progress in reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, but more work remains. As Figure 6-18 shows,
U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen 10 percent from their peak in
2007. Given a counterfactual, or baseline, path for CO2 emissions, one can
attribute the reduction in CO2 emissions to changes in the carbon content
of energy, energy efficiency, and in the level of GDP, relative to the baseline
path.9
The baseline path is computed using a combination of historical trends
and published forecasts as of 2005. Relative to this baseline, the decline in
post-2013 projected emissions is due to policy-driven improvements, mar‑
ket-driven shifts to cleaner energy, and slower growth than was initially pro‑
jected in 2005; that is, because of the decline in economic activity as a result
of the Great Recession. Importantly, the post-2013 projected emissions
exclude the portions of the Climate Action Plan yet to be finalized—notably,
the Clean Power Plan and new actions to address methane pollution. Policy
and market-driven shifts to cleaner energy make a large contribution to the
decline in post-2013 projected emissions. These shifts include the reduction
in electricity generated by coal and the increase in cleaner natural gas and
zero-emissions wind and solar generation. Improvements in energy effi‑
ciency, partly due to vehicle, equipment, and appliance standards, also made
a contribution. The recent reduction in emissions shows that while progress
has been made, given the magnitude of the climate challenges, policies cur‑
rently in progress and under development will be important to reaching our
2020 and post-2020 climate targets, but more remains to be done.

9 Specifically, CO2 emissions are the product of (CO2/Btu)×(Btu/GDP)×GDP, where CO2
represents U.S. CO2 emissions in a given year, Btu represents energy consumption in that year,
and GDP is that year’s GDP. Taking logarithms of this expression, and then subtracting the
actual values from the baseline, gives a decomposition of the CO2 reduction into contributions
from clean energy, energy efficiency, and the recent recession.

276  |  Chapter 6

Box 6-3: Selected Administration Initiatives
under the Climate Action Plan
A broad range of Administration initiatives promote the develop‑
ment and adoption of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emis‑
sions. The Administration has:
Electricity
•	 Proposed the Clean Power Plan, which will help cut CO2 pol‑
lution from the electricity sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels. The
proposal sets rates of CO2 emissions for each State, and provides States
flexibility to meet those standards by 2030.
•	 Issued about $30 billion in loan guarantees to kick-start utilityscale solar; supported “first mover” advanced nuclear reactors with
enhanced safety features in Georgia; and enabled the auto industry to
retool for very efficient and electric vehicles.
•	 In partnership with industry, invested in 4 commercial-scale
and 24 industrial-scale coal projects that will store more than 15 million
metric tons of CO2 per year.
•	 Under the Recovery Act, supported more than 90,000 projects
by leveraging nearly $50 billion in private, regional, and state dollars to
deploy enough renewable electricity to power 6.5 million homes annu‑
ally.
•	 As part of a commitment to improvements in permitting and
transmission for renewables, approved 50 utility-scale renewable energy
proposals and associated transmission, including 27 solar, 11 wind, and
12 geothermal projects since 2009, enough to power 4.8 million homes.
Thirteen of the projects are already in operation.
Transportation
•	 In 2012, finalized national standards to double the fuel economy
of light-duty cars and trucks by 2025 and slash greenhouse gas emissions
by 6 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold during this
period.
•	 Building on the first-ever medium- and heavy-duty truck fuel
economy and greenhouse gas standards released in 2011, began collabo‑
rating with industry to develop standards for trucks beyond model year
2018, which will yield large savings in fuel, lower CO2 emissions, and
health benefits from reduced particulate matter and ozone.
Energy Efficiency
•	 In the second term alone, finalized energy conservation stan‑
dards for 13 products. These standards—when taken together with the
final rules already issued under this Administration—mean that more
than 70 percent of the President’s goal of reducing cumulative carbon
pollution by 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through appliance efficiency

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 277
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

standards will be achieved, over which time Americans will save hun‑
dreds of billions of dollars in energy costs.
•	 Launched the Better Buildings Challenge in 2011 to help
American buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by
2020. More than 190 diverse organizations, representing over 3 billion
square feet, 600 manufacturing plants, and close to $2 billion in energy
efficiency financing stepped up to the President’s Challenge. Participation
has grown rapidly and participating organizations include states, cities,
school districts, multifamily housing organizations, retailers, food and
hospitality service providers, and manufacturing organizations.
•	 Beginning in 2009, created weatherization programs that helped
low-income households save $250 to $500 per year on their energy bills,
and provided energy efficiency improvements to nearly 2 million homes.
The President, as part of his FY 2016 Budget, is also proposing
new initiatives to:
•	 Invest $5 billion in funding for clean energy technology activi‑
ties at the Department of Energy, including $900 million for programs
and infrastructure that support nuclear energy technologies, $900 mil‑
lion to increase affordability and convenience of advanced vehicles and
renewable fuels, and $5 million in cleaner energy from fossil fuels.
•	 Put $1 billion toward advancing the goals of the Global Climate
Change Initiative (GCCI) and the President’s Climate Action Plan by
supporting bilateral and multilateral engagement with major and emerg‑
ing economies.

Reducing Emissions through Improved Efficiency
The amount of energy used to produce a dollar of real GDP has
declined steadily over the past four decades, and today stands at less than
one-half of what it was in 1970 (Figure 6-19). This improvement in overall
energy efficiency, which has averaged 1.6 percent a year since 1960, is due
both to more efficient use of energy resources to complete the same or
similar tasks and to shifts in the types of tasks undertaken. The first con‑
tribution is reflected in the Economy-Wide Energy Intensity Index (also
shown in Figure 6-19) developed by DOE, which estimates the amount of
energy needed to produce a given basket of goods in one year compared to
the amount required the year before. Between 1985 and 2011, the Energy
Intensity Index fell by 14 percent. The second contribution to the decrease
in the energy-to-GDP ratio arises from such factors as shifts in production
from more to less energy-intensive sectors of the economy, as well as shifts
to imports rather than production of energy-intensive goods. These latter

278  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-18
Energy Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1980–2030

Billion Metric Tons
9

Actual

AEO Projections
2006 Reference
Case

8
7

2010 Reference
Case

6

2014 Reference
Case

5

4
3

2
1

0

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006, 2010, and
2014.

Figure 6-19
U.S. Energy Intensity, 1950–2011

Index, 1985=1
2.00

2030

2011

GDP

1.75
Energy-to-GDP Ratio

1.50
1.25

DOE Energy Intensity
Index

1.00
Energy

0.75
0.50
0.25
0.00

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: The DOE Energy Intensity Index illustrates the amount of energy needed to produce a set
basket of goods over time. The Energy-to-GDP ratio shows energy use per dollar of overall output.
Source: Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration and Office of Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 279
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

factors and the efficiency increases together produced a drop of 36 percent
in the ratio of energy to GDP between 1985 and 2011.
Both market forces and government programs spur energy efficiency
improvements. For example, as Figure 6-20a shows, gasoline consumption
per capita rose through the early 2000s and plateaued in the mid-2000s
before dropping substantially during the Great Recession. As the economy
recovered, however, gasoline consumption per capita continued to fall.
Some of this continued decline stems from the relatively high real gasoline
prices shown in Figure 6-20a, but only in part. Increasing fuel economy
brought about by Federal fuel economy standards also played a role. In
2012, the Administration finalized fuel economy standards that, together
with the Administration’s first round of standards, will roughly double
the fuel economy of light-duty vehicles from 2010 levels to the equivalent
of 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year (Figure 6-20b). Further,
beginning in model year 2014, medium- and heavy-duty trucks have had
to meet their own fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, which are
projected to increase their fuel economy by 10 to 20 percent by 2018. Finally,
the Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 initiative (being undertaken by
the Department of Energy with two private-sector partners: the Council
on Competitiveness and the Alliance to Save Energy) is supporting the
President’s goal of doubling energy productivity (GDP per unit of energy
use) from its 2010 level by 2030.

The Role of Natural Gas in Lowering CO2 Emissions
Natural gas is already playing a central role in the transition to a clean
energy future. According to the decomposition mentioned in Footnote
12, nearly one-half of the CO2 emissions reductions from 2005 through
2013 stem from fuel switching, primarily switching from the use of coal
to natural gas, wind, and solar for the purpose of generating electricity.
Unconventional natural gas development has opened a vast resource and,
as shown in Figure 6-21, the EIA Reference case (which includes the base‑
line assumptions for economic growth, oil prices, and technology) projects
increasing quantities of natural gas production and steady price growth over
the coming two decades.
Price is the leading reason for the increased use of natural gas in elec‑
tricity generation. As Figure 6-22 shows, steep declines in natural gas prices
in 2008 through 2009 and in 2012 induced substitution of natural gas for
coal in electricity generation. Confirming the link between natural gas prices
and fuel substitution is the fact that rising natural gas prices have the oppo‑
site effect. In 2013, the benchmark natural gas price increased from $3.33
per million Btu in January 2013 to $4.24 per million Btu in December 2013;
280  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-20a
U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Gasoline and
Real Gasoline Prices, 2000–2014

2014 Dollars per Gallon
4.50

Gallons per Person per Day
1.10

1.05
1.00

Nov-2014

Consumption 12-month moving
average (left axis)

4.00
3.50

0.95

3.00

0.90

2.50

0.85

2.00

Retail Gasoline Price (right-axis)

0.80

1.50

0.75
0.70
2000

1.00
2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

0.50

Note: Retail gasoline prices deflated using consumer price index (1982-84=100).
Source: Energy Information Administration; Department of Commerce, Census Bureau; CEA
calculations.

Figure 6-20b
Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard
Miles per Gallon
40
Passenger (P)

Passenger (Std)
Light Trucks (Std) 2013

Light Trucks (P)
Total Fleet (P)

35
30
25

20
15

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Dotted lines represent actual performance (P) and solid lines represent the relevant fuel
economy standard (Std).
Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 281
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Trillion Cubic Feet
50

Figure 6-21
U.S. Natural Gas Production and
Wholesale Prices, 2011–2030

2012 Dollars per Million Btu
9.00

Tight and Shale Gas (left axis)

45

Conventional Gas (left axis)

40

7.50

Henry Hub Spot Price (right axis)

35

6.00

30

25

4.50

20

3.00

15
10

1.50

5

0

2010

2015

2020

2025

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook.

0.00

2030

Figure 6-22
Change in Monthly Electricity Generation and Prices, 2008–2014
Percent Change, Year-Over-Year
75

Natural Gas Prices

50
Natural Gas Generation

25

0
Dec-2014

Coal Generation

-25
-50
-75

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Source: Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (Jan 2015).

282  |  Chapter 6

and as natural gas prices rose relative to coal, the use of coal for electricity
generation increased while the use of natural gas decreased. Looking ahead,
the price of natural gas will make it an economically attractive alternative
fuel as market forces as well as state and federal policies further reduce coalfired electricity generation.
The Administration is taking steps to ensure that the expansion of
natural gas and oil production be done responsibly and with environmental
safeguards. Environmental concerns include both climate impacts of fugi‑
tive methane emissions and flaring, as well as local environmental issues
associated with water and land use for hydraulic fracturing operations.10
The Climate Action Plan includes a strategy both to reduce methane emis‑
sions and to address gaps in current methane emissions data. The regulatory
structure for addressing local environmental concerns, especially around
land and water use, exists primarily at the State and local level. Research that
is actively under way will inform prudent local environmental regulation of
hydraulic fracturing.
Looking further ahead, the current development of natural gas gener‑
ation infrastructure prepares the Nation for future widespread deployment
of wind and solar generation. Wind and solar are non-dispatchable, mean‑
ing that electricity generation depends on how strongly the wind is blowing
or the sun is shining, in contrast to fossil fuel-fired generators, whose power
output can be largely adjusted as needed. Consequently, high market pen‑
etration of both wind and solar would benefit from either storage or backup
generation capacity. Developing natural gas infrastructure today facilitates
its use tomorrow for peak demand and renewable backup generation.

Supporting Renewables, Nuclear, Cleaner Coal, and Cleaner
Transportation
Low- and zero-carbon renewable and nuclear technologies, as well as
cleaner coal and transportation technologies, have a central role to play in a
clean energy future. Consequently, the President’s All-of-the-Above Energy
Strategy makes a strong commitment to supporting these low-carbon
technologies.
10 Natural gas is composed primarily of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Fugitive
methane refers to methane that leaks from wells, pipelines, or other parts of the natural gas
delivery system. Flaring refers to burning excess gas. Because flared gas emits CO2 rather than
methane, the greenhouse gas footprint is smaller when the gas is flared rather than emitted
directly to the atmosphere. However, both fugitive emissions and flaring increase the total
greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas. Fugitive methane emissions and flaring are relevant
to both natural gas and oil production, because many oil wells contain significant amounts of
natural gas.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 283
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Electricity from Wind and Solar Energy. Historically, tax incentives
for wind and solar energy have been based on the avoided-pollutionemissions and infant-industry arguments. Wind and solar generation are
zero-emission sources of energy and thus do not create a negative climate
externality.
The market demand for these alternative sources is sub-optimally
low from society’s point of view since emitters do not bear the incremental
cost of their emissions-related damages and therefore have little incentive
to switch away from more carbon-intensive energy sources. The potential
market profits of wind and solar projects, therefore, do not reflect the broad
benefits to society of their zero emissions, so policies such as tax incentives
are justified. Moreover, offering tax incentives to immature technologies
could spur innovation that reduces the costs of renewables in the long run.
In a wide range of contexts, both inside and outside of the energy sector,
new technologies experience periods of rapid learning. If firms can profit
from their own learning—say by improving their products or reducing
manufacturing costs—then firms have every incentive to spend resources
on learning and improving technology. But with new technologies—socalled infant industries—a market failure could cause too little investment
in their research, development, and demonstration. Specifically, a business
that learns and improves its technology may see its competitors take those
improvements and reduce their own costs or improve their own products
(for example, without violating any patents). If the first business anticipates
that its competitors will benefit from its own learning, then that business
is less likely to spend the resources needed to learn and potential improve‑
ments in technology will suffer. In such cases, where learning spills over
across firms, private markets create less innovation than is socially optimal.
Accordingly, the Administration supports research and early deployment
projects aimed at bringing down the ultimate market price of immature
renewable energy technologies.
Increasing competitiveness of wind and photovoltaic electricity pro‑
duction, renewable portfolio standards that many states have adopted, and
other government policies have together increased the share of electricity
generated by non-hydro renewables from roughly 2 percent in 2005 to 7
percent in 2014 (Figure 6-23). The total installed costs of new photovoltaic
systems have dropped sharply since around 2008, with the total installed cost
of a new system falling by almost 50 percent for residential and commercialscale systems and by 40 percent for utility-scale systems (Barbose et al. 2014).
The Administration has also supported solar deployment. Five years
ago, no significant wind or solar energy projects existed on public lands.
Today, the Interior Department is on track to permit enough solar and wind
284  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-23
Monthly Share of Non-Hydro Renewables
in Net Power Generation, 2001–2014

Percent
10

Oct-14

9

8
7

6
5

4
3

2
1

0
2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Note: Solid line shows actual data and dotted line is a smoothed trend, shown to dampen the
strong seasonal patterns (the share of non-hydro renewables drops during the winter and summer-both seasons of high power generation demand).
Source: Energy Information Administration, Net Generation for All Sectors.

projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; the
Defense Department has set a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable
energy—including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal—on Army, Navy,
and Air Force installations by 2025; and, as part of the Climate Action Plan,
the Federal Government has committed to sourcing 20 percent of the energy
consumed in Federal buildings from renewable sources by 2020.
Nuclear and Cleaner Coal. Nuclear energy provides zero-carbon base
load electricity and, through DOE, the Administration is supporting nuclear
research and deployment. A high priority of DOE has been to help accelerate
the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular
reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support
program. Small modular reactors offer the advantage of lower initial capital
investment, scalability, and siting flexibility at locations unable to accom‑
modate more traditional larger reactors.  They also have the potential for
enhanced safety and security; for example, through built-in passive safety
systems. DOE is committing $452 million to support first-of-a-kind SMR
activities through cost-sharing arrangements with industry partners.
DOE is also supporting deployment of advanced large-scale reactors.
In February 2014, the Department issued $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to
support the construction of the nation’s next generation of advanced nuclear
reactors. The two new 1100 megawatt reactors, which will be located in

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 285
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

Georgia, feature advanced safety components and could provide a standard‑
ized design for the U.S. utilities market.
The Administration is also advancing lower GHG emission coal tech‑
nology. DOE’s R&D program is focused on improving advanced power gen‑
eration and carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies by increas‑
ing overall system efficiencies and reducing capital costs. In the near-term,
advanced technologies are being developed that both increase the power
generation efficiency for new plants, and incorporate new technologies to
capture CO2. The longer-term goals are to increase coal plant efficiencies
and reduce both the energy and capital costs of CO2  capture and storage
from coal plants. As part of its $6 billion commitment to coal technology,
the Administration, partnered with industry, is investing in commercialscale carbon capture and storage projects at power plants and industrial
sites, and in research and development on new technologies. In addition, the
Department of Energy has made available $8 billion in loan guarantees for
advanced fossil energy products that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse
gas emissions.
Meeting the Challenge of the Transportation Sector. Low-carbon
vehicle technologies and fuels must play an important role in the transpor‑
tation sector. Promising low-emission alternatives include hybrids, electric
vehicles, hydrogen, natural gas, and biofuels. The effective emissions from
an electric vehicle depend on the source of electricity, and they will fall as
the electric power sector reduces its CO2 emissions. Different fuels are likely
to be relatively better suited for different needs; for example, natural gas for
busses and heavy-duty fleet vehicles and electricity for private vehicles in
urban settings. But the transformation of the transportation sector is in its
infancy, and the Administration is supporting research and development of
a wide range of advanced transportation fuel options.
The convenience of high-energy content liquid fuels means that their
role in the transportation sector could persist for decades. If so, renewable
liquid fuels with a low greenhouse gas footprint would prove important for
reducing the climate impact of the transportation sector. Already, the U.S.
transportation sector uses ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, and lesser
quantities of other renewable fuels. Ethanol boosts octane and is blended
into nearly all of the U.S. gasoline supply to produce E10, which is 10 percent
ethanol by volume. Demand for renewable transportation fuels is further
supported by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). To qualify under the RFS
as conventional renewable fuel, the fuel must achieve a 20 percent life-cycle
greenhouse gas emissions reduction, relative to petroleum gasoline. The
legislation authorizing the RFS, which was expanded under the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007, mandated increasing amounts of
286  |  Chapter 6

renewable fuels over time. As Figure 6-24 shows, blending of ethanol into
E10 has already reduced the amount of petroleum in gasoline substantially.
The 2007 legislation envisioned conventional renewable fuels such as corn
ethanol to be transitional and that their market share would decrease as the
market share of advanced renewable fuels would increase. The long-term
environmental goal of the RFS is to support the development of advanced
biofuels, which have life cycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at
least 50 percent, and especially to support cellulosic biofuels, which have life
cycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 60 percent (cellulosic
biofuels use feedstocks such as corn stover, which includes parts of the corn
plant besides the kernels; conventional ethanol production does not use
stover).

International Leadership
Actions taken to reduce domestic emissions, the first goal of the
Climate Action Plan, provide the foundation for meeting the Plan’s third
objective: providing international leadership to address climate change.
From 2005 to 2012 (the last year of data available from the EIA), the
United States reduced its total carbon pollution (measured in tons of CO2equivalent) more than any other nation on Earth. And, as noted above, the

Figure 6-24
U.S. Motor Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Consumption, 2000–2030

Million Barrels per Day
12

Actual

Projected

10
Motor Gasoline

8
Petroleum Content

6

Diesel

4

Petroleum Content

2
0

2000

2010

2020

Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook (2014).

2030

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 287
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

United States is further reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by: improv‑
ing energy efficiency; taking advantage of unconventional natural gas as
a transitional fuel; supporting renewable, nuclear, and clean coal energy
sources; and regulating emissions under the Clean Air Act. But curbing
greenhouse gas emissions is ultimately an international challenge, as is cli‑
mate change. The United States produces approximately 16 percent of global
energy-related CO2 emissions, second only to China (Figure 6-25). As the
economies in the developing world expand, however, their energy needs will
increase. Business-as-usual projections indicate that an increasing share of
greenhouse gas emissions will come from outside the United States and from
the developing world in particular. Fully solving the problem of excessive
emissions will therefore require a broad global response.
U.S. leadership is vital to the success of international negotiations to
set meaningful reduction goals. This leadership is multifaceted. Through
low-carbon technologies developed and demonstrated in the United States
(including unconventional natural gas production technology), this Nation
can help the rest of the world reduce its dependence on high-carbon fuels.
The President’s initiative under the Climate Action Plan to lead efforts to
eliminate international public financing for new conventional coal plants,
except in the poorest countries without economically feasible alterna‑
tives, will further help the world move toward cleaner fuels for electric
power. Investing in research in new technologies such as carbon capture
and storage for cleaner coal and natural gas, as well as biomass co-firing,
and advanced renewable liquid fuels, pushes forward these frontiers, and
supports U.S. technology leadership in clean energy. More broadly, clean
energy technologies developed here, as well as domestically manufactured
clean energy products, provide global benefits when they are used abroad
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And by taking strong steps to reduce
emissions at home, the Administration is in a strong position to secure simi‑
lar commitments from other nations—both in discussions with individual
countries and at the United Nations climate negotiations to be held in Paris
in 2015. The domestic steps include new initiatives such as the second round
of medium and heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas standards, programs to
reduce methane emissions and other non-CO2 gases outside the energy
sector, and regulation of CO2 emissions from the electric power sector,
combined with the large and growing effects of enacted policies such as fuel
economy standards for passenger vehicles. This strength is demonstrated
by the recent historic joint announcement of post-2020 climate targets
with China. In combination, the Administration’s efforts lay the founda‑
tion for a cleaner energy future that is economically efficient, upholds our

288  |  Chapter 6

Figure 6-25
World Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1980–2012
Billion Metric Tons
35
30
25

Rest of Asia
India
United States
Rest of Europe
Rest of South America
Rest of Africa
Rest of Eurasia
Rest of the Middle East
Saudi Arabia

China
Japan
Rest of North America
Germany
Brazil
South Africa
Russia
Iran

2012

20
15
10

5
0
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics.

2010

responsibility to future generations, and provides positive net economic
benefits, both directly and through the example we set for other countries.

Conclusion
The U.S. energy sector has changed profoundly over the past decade.
Technological innovations and government policies have reversed the
decline in oil and gas production and have caused an explosion in renewable
energy production. Building on these developments, the Administration’s
All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy supports job creation and economic
growth, while improving the Nation’s energy security. The energy revolu‑
tion has benefited not only domestic energy sectors, but also the energyconsuming businesses and households that enjoy lower energy prices.
Recognizing the need to address climate change domestically and to
provide international climate leadership, the President’s Climate Action
Plan includes a broad range of initiatives to reduce domestic emissions
aggressively. These efforts lay the foundation for leadership in securing
international agreements to reduce emissions and prepare for climate
change. The Administration’s energy strategy has built the framework for a
sustainable energy future.

The Energy Revolution: Economic Benefits and the Foundation | 289
for a Low-Carbon Energy Future

C H A P T E R

7

THE UNITED STATES IN
A GLOBAL ECONOMY

T

he world’s economies are more intertwined than ever before. Since
the middle of the last century, declining policy barriers, transportation
costs, and communication costs have driven a swift rise in world exports
and foreign investment, far outpacing the growth in world output. Even so,
the potential economic gains from trade for the United States are far from
exhausted, as U.S. businesses must overcome an average tariff hurdle of 6.8
percent and countless non-tariff measures to serve the roughly three-quar‑
ters of world purchasing power and almost 95 percent of world consumers
that are outside America’s borders.
Expanding trade allows production inputs such as labor and capital
to be used more efficiently, which raises overall productivity. U.S. busi‑
nesses that grow in response to increased market access abroad create new
jobs. These firms are more productive and rely more on capital and skilled
workers, on average, than similar non-exporting firms. Partly because of
this, the wages paid by exporting firms tend to be higher than wages paid by
non-exporters in the same industry. In particular, evidence for the United
States suggests that, in manufacturing, average wages in exporting firms and
industries are up to 18 percent higher than average wages in non-exporting
firms and industries.
In addition, international trade helps U.S. households’ budgets go fur‑
ther. Because our trading partners also specialize in the goods and services
for which they are relatively more productive, the prices for those goods
and services in the United States are lower than if we could only consume
what we produce. Trade also offers a much greater diversity of consumption
opportunities, from year-round fresh fruit to affordable clothing.
By increasing global production and consumption opportunities,
international trade can promote world economic growth and development.
Trade among nations offers a mechanism potentially to reduce global pov‑
erty, which may decrease child labor and pull developing country workers
291

into jobs with improved working conditions. Trade can be a force toward
the empowerment of traditionally marginalized groups; for example, some
empirical evidence suggests that decreased discrimination against women is
related to the effects of global competition brought about by trade. Research
also shows that bilateral trade agreements can reduce the likelihood of
bilateral conflict, as economic cooperation promotes political cooperation,
though the relationship is less clear in a multilateral setting, perhaps because
multilateral trade reduces the dependence of any one country on another.
Trade can also facilitate the spread of new green technologies throughout the
world, which decreases emissions, potentially outweighing any additional
emissions associated with an increased scale of production, consumption,
and transportation.
However, because the process of globalization spurs the shifting of
resources within national economies, it can also create challenges in areas
like income inequality. For this reason, it is critical that globalization is
managed—in terms of both the types of trade agreements the United States
enters into and the domestic policies that are in place—in a way that ensures
that more Americans can take advantage of the opportunities afforded
by trade, while being better insulated from any challenges trade creates.
Therefore, President Obama’s “values-driven” trade policy seeks to do
what’s best for U.S. businesses and workers by enforcing international agree‑
ments that improve labor and environmental standards around the world,
combat corruption, and strengthen the rule of law abroad. Encouraging such
trade agreements maximizes globalization’s benefits while minimizing glo‑
balization’s unwanted side effects. For example, new U.S. trade agreements
promote and enforce the rights of workers abroad, “leveling up” rather
than “leveling down” and risking workers’ rights in the United States. The
Administration’s domestic policies, such as skills training, infrastructure
investment, and business tax reform, allow workers and firms to take better
advantage of the opportunities trade offers. At the same time, policies like
Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Affordable Care Act help protect
workers from some of the challenges associated with broader, less-mindful
globalization.
An additional aspect of the global economy, beyond trade in goods
and services, is international financial markets, which also offer mutual
benefits to trading economies. International financial transactions, through
which countries diversify risks globally and undertake international bor‑
rowing and lending, can promote higher and more stable consumption
levels throughout the world economy. But, they can also pose major risks to
national and global stability, as was starkly manifested in a series of global
financial crises in recent decades. To maximize benefits, increased financial
292  |  Chapter 7

integration must be accompanied by sustained and coordinated monitoring
and regulation of financial institutions and markets.
This chapter starts by reviewing data on the growth in world exports
and the role of trade agreements in facilitating this growth. In particular,
the chapter reviews the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), which embody the
President’s “values-driven” approach to trade policy, by seeking to level the
playing field for American workers and businesses, including by promoting
enforceable standards for workers and strengthening environmental protec‑
tions. The chapter next looks at the considerable benefits of trade, especially
for workers in export-intensive industries, and the challenges faced by
workers displaced as a result of trade. The chapter concludes by surveying
the rapid growth of international financial markets. This last section of the
chapter outlines the benefits and risks from international financial integra‑
tion and the steps global policymakers have taken to contain those risks,
while preserving the benefits.

Multilateral Trade
Multilateral efforts to promote trade liberalization for goods and
services date back to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),
signed by the United States and 22 other countries in October 1947. As a
complement to the Bretton Woods financial system established in 1944,
GATT was inspired by the belief that trade liberalization would promote
international prosperity, peace, and security, and thus contribute to the
U.S.-led effort to rebuild after World War II and avert another sequel.
Average tariffs in advanced economies have fallen dramatically from about
40 percent when GATT began in 1947 to about 3 percent in 2012. Including
developing countries, the decline is even more substantial. Non-tariff bar‑
riers (NTBs), for instance, on items related to government procurement,
arbitrary product standards, local content requirements, and other regula‑
tory barriers have also been eased.
As of the end of 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO), estab‑
lished in 1995, has 160 members. Currently, the United States is engaged
in discussions at the WTO on a wide range of topics. Among them are
formalizing the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which seeks to reduce
costs associated with customs-related and other cross-border procedures
and provide support to developing countries in this capacity. In addition,
the United States is negotiating to expand the Information Technology
Agreement, which will eliminate tariffs on a wider range of information and
communications technology (ICT) products, as well as the Environmental

The United States in a Global Economy   |  293

Figure 7-1
Global GDP and Exports of Goods and Services, 1960–2013

Index, 1960=100
3,000
2,500

Exports

2013

2,000

1,500
GDP

1,000
500
0
1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: All values in real 2009 dollars, deflated using the U.S. GDP deflator.
Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators.

Goods Agreement and the Trade in Services Agreement to reduce barriers
to trade in, respectively, green technologies and services such as telecom‑
munications, insurance, and distribution systems. The United States is also
participating in efforts to evaluate prospects for a conclusion of the Doha
Development Agenda round of multilateral trade negotiations.

The Growth of U.S. and World Trade
Worldwide flows of goods and services as a share of the global econ‑
omy are at an all-time high, thanks in no small part to the solid foundations
put in place by the WTO to govern countries’ policies toward trade flows.
Figure 7-1 illustrates the progress of worldwide goods and services trade
integration since 1960. Over this period, real global exports of goods and
services have increased by a factor of 24, almost triple the pace of real world
output growth.1
The increase in trade volumes is partly a function of broader trends in
globalization, including reductions in transportation costs, improved inven‑
tory management, the entry of major new economies into the global trading
system, and increased dispersion of production. Declining trade policy
barriers around the world have also played an important role in increasing
1 A large contraction in world trade followed the Great Recession, but it has since rebounded,
albeit at a slower pace of growth in the last few years than prior to the recession.

294  |  Chapter 7

Percent
35

Figure 7-2
Ratio of U.S. Duties Collected to Total Imports, 1891–2013

30
25
20

15
10
5

2013

0
1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

Note: Total imports measured as the customs value of imports for consumption.
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission, Office of Analysis and Research Services.

the global volume of trade. The U.S. International Trade Commission has
recorded U.S. duties collected as a share of total imports since 1891 (see
Figure 7-2).2 The U.S. average ad valorem equivalent tariff has been below
5 percent since the mid-1970s, below 2 percent since 1999, and currently
stands at 1.4 percent.
As advanced nations generally have low tariff barriers, the most recent
global tariff reductions have come as historically protectionist emerging and
developing economies entered the global trading system, recognizing the
benefits of open markets. Figure 7-3 shows the relative pace of tariff declines
across three broad world income groups, as defined by the World Bank,
since the early 1990s. High-income countries, with already low tariff levels,
decreased tariffs from 3.6 percent on average in 1988 to 2.6 percent on aver‑
age in 2012. By contrast, middle-income economies decreased tariff levels by
a sharp 7.2 percentage points (from 14.8 percent on average in 1996 to 7.6
percent on average in 2012), and low-income countries decreased tariffs by
an even greater 21.3 percentage points over the same time (from 33 percent
2 Tariff rates were high prior to World War I, in part, because they were a primary revenue
source for the Federal government. The Revenue Act of 1913, which passed following
ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, lowered tariffs sharply while replacing the lost
revenue with a Federal income tax. Tariff rates in the 1920s and 1930s were relatively high as a
result of the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act of 1922 and the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930. U.S.
unilateral tariff reductions began even before GATT, once the Reciprocal Trade Act of 1934
authorized President Franklin Roosevelt to negotiate tariff reductions with trade partners.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  295

Percent
35

Figure 7-3
Global Tariff Rates by Income Group, 1988–2012

30

25

Low-Income

20
Middle-Income

15
10
5
0
1985

High-Income

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: Tariffs are calculated as the simple average of the applied tariff rate across all products within
country groups.
Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators.

on average in 1996 to 16.2 percent on average in 2000, then to 11.7 percent
on average in 2012).
The Rise of Services Trade. Services industries comprise 62 percent
of the U.S. economy, and employ 86 percent of American workers. Despite
the prevalence of services in the economy, there is a dearth of research
investigating the impact of international trade in services. The cross-border
flow of physical goods is easy to measure as goods pass through customs
authorities. Services trade, on the other hand, is less straightforward to docu‑
ment, as many services are delivered digitally and thus have no single point
of crossing.3
Apart from limited data, the lack of research on services trade also
reflects that services, which require interaction between producers and cus‑
tomers, were long thought to be non-tradable—the classic example of the
3 The General Agreement on Trade in Services, a WTO agreement that came into force in
1995, defines four modes of services trade. First, services trade occurs when a service produced
in one country is consumed in another country; for instance, when Hollywood movies show
in theaters abroad. Second, services trade occurs when consumers from abroad purchase local
services, such as when foreigners travel to the United States for vacation, for an education,
or for health care services. The third mode of services trade occurs through foreign direct
investment; for instance, when a U.S. bank opens a branch abroad to offer financial services
in other countries. Finally, the fourth mode of services trade occurs when individual service
providers from one country travel to supply services in another country. An example would be
an American academic giving an educational seminar abroad for an honorarium.

296  |  Chapter 7

Billions of 2009 Dollars
700

Figure 7-4
U.S. Trade in Services, 1980–2014
2014

600
500

Imports

400

Exports

300
200
Surplus

100
0
1980

1990

2000

2010

Note: All values in real 2009 dollars, deflated using the U.S. GDP deflator. Data post-1998
are based on BEA's restructured U.S. Trade in Services series.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Economic Accounts; Haver Analytics.

non-tradable service being the haircut. While haircuts are still unlikely to
be traded, the growth in information technology and declining transporta‑
tion costs have facilitated a strong rise in trade in services like education,
health care, tourism, as well as the many business and professional services
associated with trade in goods (telecommunications, finance, distribution,
insurance, and more). The spread of multinational firms and the worldwide
subdivision of production processes have also contributed to this rise.
In 2014, U.S. services exports measured approximately $710 billion,
or 30 percent of total U.S. exports, while imports of services were about
$479 billion, or 17 percent of total U.S. imports. Together, services trade
accounted for almost 6.9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in
2014. As depicted in Figure 7-4, these levels reflect rapid growth since 1980;
real U.S. services exports grew by 613 percent over the 34-year period to
2014, or at a 5.6-percent average annual rate. Despite an overall trade deficit,
the United States maintains a strong and growing surplus in services.

Free Trade Agreements
U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) play a central role in continu‑
ing progress toward more open markets. Table 7-1 lists the current U.S.
bilateral and regional FTAs, beginning with the first FTA to enter into
force with Israel in 1985. Canada signed an FTA with the United States
The United States in a Global Economy   |  297

Box 7-1: Trade in Ideas
In 2013, U.S. companies paid $39 billion in royalties and licens‑
ing fees to foreign companies, and were paid $129 billion by foreign
companies seeking access to intellectual property held in the United
States. While this “trade in ideas” represents just 14.6 percent of all U.S.
trade in services, it generates 40 percent of our $225 billion services
trade surplus. Figure 7-i shows the level of imports and exports in 2013
for each of the four major categories of trade in intellectual property.
Roughly two-thirds of this trade is intra-firm, with a greater share of
this intra-company trade occurring in the trademark and franchise fees
category (76 percent) than for industrial processes (69 percent), software
(58 percent), or audio-visual materials (42 percent).
Trade in ideas is partly influenced by differences in countries’
intellectual property laws; as such, harmonizing the international
treatment of intellectual property rights has become an important, and
sometimes controversial, aspect of international trade negotiations. For
example, the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights established minimum standards for various forms of
intellectual property protection. Several economic studies, such as papers
by Branstetter, Fisman, and Foley (2006) and Cockburn, Lanjouw, and
Schankerman (2014), suggest that stronger patent protection in destina‑
Figure 7-i
Charge for the Use of Intellectual Property, 2013

Billions of Dollars
50
45.0

42.9

Exports

40

Imports

30

22.8

22.4

18.4

20

10

0

6.6

Industrial Processes

Computer
Software

4.6
Trademarks and
Franchise Fees

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Transactions.

298  |  Chapter 7

5.3

Audio-Visual and
Related Products

tion countries does promote outbound technology transfer, both within
and between firms.
One reason that trade in intellectual property can be controversial
is that ideas are non-rival goods that can be used by many parties at the
same time, with little or no incremental cost per user. This feature of
intellectual property also creates challenges for measuring international
technology transfer because it implies that the location of an idea,
which determines the direction of trade flows, is somewhat arbitrary.
To compound that problem, there is no obvious market price for many
intra-company transactions, so both the magnitude and direction of
intra-company trade in ideas may reflect corporate tax and legal strate‑
gies, as much as they do business or economic realities.
All of these complications can produce some unusual outcomes
in the trade statistics. For example, U.S. intellectual property exports to
Bermuda were $3 billion in 2013, with 98 percent of that trade occurring
between affiliated companies, a trade that largely occurs for tax reasons
rather than economic reasons, as discussed in Chapter 5 of this Report.
These intellectual property exports are about two-thirds the size of
Bermuda’s $4.5 billion GDP. In the same year, U.S. intellectual property
exports to France, whose GDP is 600 times larger than Bermuda’s, totaled
$3.4 billion, with only 42 percent transpiring between related companies.
Lipsey (2010) shows that foreign affiliates of U.S. multinationals located
in a variety of low-tax countries report unusually high levels of intangible
assets relative to both employees and physical capital.
While it is difficult to estimate the size of any measurement bias
created by geographic reallocation of intellectual property within mul‑
tinational firms, it is possible to say something about the likely impact
on trade statistics. In particular, transfers of intellectual capital abroad
at below-market rates and intra-company pricing that shifts income
outside the United States will lead the official statistics to underestimate
the true size of the U.S. services trade surplus—that is, what would be
observed under competitive market prices or in a tax neutral environ‑
ment. For example, the true value of intellectual property exports in
Figure 7-i may be higher, and the value of imports lower, particularly for
trade in ideas related to trademark and franchise fees, where the share of
intra-company transactions is highest. This type of bias would also make
U.S. companies that trade in intellectual property appear less productive,
by artificially lowering their revenues and inflating their costs. The con‑
tinued growth of intra-company cross-border trade within large multi‑
nationals suggests that these measurement challenges will only grow in
importance for both tax authorities and government statisticians.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  299

Table 7-1

U.S. Free Trade Agreements
Agreement

Date of
Entry Into Force

Bilateral Goods Trade
(in Billions, 2014)

Israel

Aug-85

38

As Percent of Total
U.S. Goods Trade
(2014)
1

Canada

Jan-89

658

NAFTA

Jan-94

1,193

16.6
30

Jordan

Dec-01

3

0.1

Chile

Jan-04

26

0.7

Singapore

Jan-04

47

1.2

Australia

Jan-05

37

0.9
0.1

Bahrain

Jan-06

2

Morocco

Jan-06

3

0.1

CAFTA-DR

Mar-06

60

1.5

Oman

Jan-09

3

0.1

Peru

Feb-09

16

0.4

Korea

Mar-12

114

2.9

Colombia

May-12

39

1

Panama

Oct-12

TPP

TBD

T-TIP

TBD

Total in Force

Total

11

0.3

1,592

40.1

1,609

40.5

695

2,623

18

66.1

Note: Individual rows do not sum to the total, since individual countries may be represented in multiple
agreements (e.g., Canada in NAFTA).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics; World Trade Organization, Regional Trade Agreements
Information System.

in 1989, and together, these parties joined with Mexico in 1994 to form
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then, the
United States has also signed agreements with countries in the Middle East
(Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman), in Asia (Singapore and Korea), in
Oceania (Australia), in South America (Chile, Peru, and Colombia), and in
Central America (the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade
Agreement—or CAFTA-DR4—and Panama). In total, current U.S. FTAs
cover 40 percent of total U.S. goods trade.
With a few minor exceptions, all of this452.9382duty-free. Therefore,
trade is
it is little surprise that the United States has experienced a large increase in
trade activity with these partners in the years following entry into force of
the agreements. Notably, however, higher trade with FTA partners is not
4 CAFTA-DR includes five Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic.

300  |  Chapter 7

accompanied by reduced trade with non-FTA countries. Figure 7-5 sum‑
marizes the growth in U.S. goods trade with our free trade partners before
and after the enactment of all 14 FTAs. For comparison, the analysis also
presents the growth in U.S. trade with non-FTA partners before and after
the FTAs entered into force. By construction, time zero is the date of entry
into force. Looking at GDP-weighted averages of trade across all FTA part‑
ners and non-partners suggests that, on average, trade with both country
groups was growing around 3 percent a year before the enactment of the
agreements. After entry into force of the agreements, trade grew at about 10
percent a year with FTA partners, and also grew at about 6 percent a year
with non-partners. Research by Baier and Bergstrand (2007) on free trade
agreements for 96 different countries supports these findings. The authors
report that, on average, an FTA approximately doubles two members’ bilat‑
eral trade flows after 10 years. Our estimates based on the GDP-weighted
average of trade with FTA partners suggests a 95 percent increase in trade
flows after 10 years (see Figure 7-5).5

Current Trade Negotiations
In recent years, the United States has been focusing on negotiations
toward two major multi-continental FTAs: TPP would encompass 12 Pacific
nations across the Asia-Pacific, and T-TIP is a proposed free trade agree‑
ment between the United States and the 28 member states of the European
Union. A key goal of U.S. free trade agreements is to secure tariff reductions
abroad. As discussed earlier, the average tariff in the United States is a low
1.4 percent, while many of our trading partners maintain relatively high
tariffs. At the same time, tariffs are just one of many policy instruments
available to governments. Trade agreements bring about reductions in nontariff measures, while also liberalizing investment regimes and services trade
(where NTBs are especially severe). Bringing down our trading partners’
tariff and non-tariff barriers is essential for American firms to be able to
compete on a level playing field in the global economy.
The Administration’s policy is to encourage trade agreements to pro‑
mote a “values-driven” trade regime that maximizes globalization’s benefits
while addressing globalization’s problematic side-effects. Environmental
and labor commitments, included as a core part of our agreements, can
help to level the playing field for U.S. businesses and workers, while also
contributing to safer and greener policies worldwide. In addition, our trade
agreements ensure that American businesses remain competitive in a global
market in which our trading partners are also gaining preferential access
5 The estimates rely on incomplete data, as a full 10 years has not yet passed for some U.S.
FTAs.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  301

Figure 7-5
Growth in Real U.S. Goods Trade
Around Free Trade Agreements

Real U.S. Trade as Percent of
Trade at FTA Enforcement
250

GDP-Weighted Average
Across All FTA Partners

200
150
100

GDP-Weighted Average
Across All Countries Except
FTA Partner

50
0

-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Years From Free Trade Agreement Enforcement

7

8

9 10

Note: Trade is defined as the sum of goods imports and exports. All values in real 2009 dollars,
deflated using the U.S. GDP deflator.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; International
Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook; CEA calculations.

to foreign markets through negotiations of their own bilateral and regional
agreements. The Administration’s efforts will also pave the way for future
high-standard agreements around the world, and trade pacts with TPP and
T-TIP countries will help advance U.S. strategic and geopolitical interests.
Finally, it is important to understand that these agreements are not meant to
represent the end of the process. TPP is designed to allow others to join in
the future, and both TPP and T-TIP are intended to spur further multilateral
trade liberalization.
Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a proposed regional FTA that
the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei
Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,
Singapore, and Vietnam. Based on the most recent data, TPP partners
account for 37 percent of world GDP, 11 percent of the world’s popula‑
tion, and 23 percent of world exports of goods and services. In 2013, TPP
countries received $699 billion in U.S. merchandise exports and $199 bil‑
lion in U.S. services exports, making the region as a whole the top export
destination for the United States. In addition, included among the partners
are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world; according to some
measures, the number of middle-class consumers in Asia is expected to grow
to 2.7 billion by 2030—an enormous increase in the potential export market
for U.S. goods and services. The region is already an important location for

302  |  Chapter 7

U.S. investment; in 2013, U.S. companies invested $695 billion in the AsiaPacific area.
TPP Leaders have expressed their intent to achieve a “comprehensive
and high-standard” FTA that will broadly liberalize regional trade and
investment, strengthening economic ties between the parties. In addition to
addressing tariff barriers, the TPP countries are seeking to address a range
of outstanding non-tariff barriers, such as import licensing restrictions, as
well as to open services and government procurement markets in the region.
The United States and its partners are seeking to negotiate rules that will
provide transparent protections for investors and citizens, support the digi‑
tal economy, promote innovation through strong supervision of intellectual
property rights, and offer guidance on competitive practices associated with
state-owned enterprises.
In addition, when concluded, TPP will place strong labor commit‑
ments at the core of the agreement, making them enforceable and subject to
dispute settlement, as with other commercial provisions. TPP will constitute
the largest expansion of enforceable labor rights in history, more than qua‑
drupling the number of people around the world covered by enforceable
labor standards. TPP will also contain strong commitments on the environ‑
ment, including commitments to protect our oceans, combat wildlife traf‑
ficking, and eliminate illegal logging. As with the labor provisions of TPP,
these commitments will be enforceable through dispute settlement, allowing
for trade sanctions against countries that fail to abide by the commitments.
Failing to secure a TPP agreement would place U.S. workers and
businesses at a distinct disadvantage, by allowing other countries to set the
rules of the global trading system—rules that would likely be adverse to U.S.
interests. Comprehensive trade agreements like TPP offer the United States
a way to shape globalization’s rules in the best interest of American workers
and firms and to ensure that global standards include important issues like
worker and environmental protections.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The United States
and the European Union already maintain the world’s largest bilateral trade
relationship. In 2013, together both regions account for nearly one-half of
world GDP and about 42 percent of global exports of goods and services.
Based on the most recent data, U.S. companies have approximately $2.4
trillion invested in the European Union, while European companies have
$1.7 trillion invested in the United States. These already strong economic
relationships would be strengthened through the formalization of T-TIP.
Despite their large size and close ties, the European Union and the
United States have not achieved the full potential of their economic rela‑
tionship. Negotiations toward the ambitious T-TIP began in earnest in June
The United States in a Global Economy   |  303

2013. Since tariff barriers between the two partners are already very low,
the agreement strives to increase market access by also addressing NTBs.
Importantly, both sides seek agreement on cross-cutting disciplines on regu‑
latory coherence and transparency—including early consultation on major
regulations and use of regulatory impact assessment—for the development
and implementation of efficient, cost-effective, and more-compatible regu‑
lations for goods and services. Adoption and use of good regulatory prac‑
tices will ultimately raise the standards and promote trade beyond just the
United States and the European Union. In addition, the governments intend
to commit to liberalize services trade, promote foreign direct investment,
and cooperate on the development of rules and policies on global issues of
common concern.

The Implications of Trade
The process of globalization offers many new economic opportuni‑
ties, but it also has created challenges. Globalization is a result of both
worldwide economic developments and specific policy changes. Analyzing
globalization’s general impact is different from analyzing any particular
trade agreement. Understanding the impact of any particular agreement
requires both historical research, as well as an analysis of the relative tariffs
of trading partners, NTBs, and the relevant standards (for instance, labor,
environment, and intellectual property).
Nevertheless, historical experience does underscore the potentially
large gains from trade. In the past half-century, as trade barriers around
the world have diminished, these gains have multiplied and are increasingly
shared across different countries and different industries. Among these clas‑
sic gains from trade are lower prices for consumers and producers, greater
variety of goods and services available for purchase, enhanced productivity,
and increased innovative activity.

Classic Gains from Trade
Enhanced Productivity. Long-established theories of international
trade suggest that trade liberalization will improve a nation’s economic
productivity through several different channels.6 First, trade can improve
economy-wide productivity by allowing each country to focus on its com‑
parative advantage. This follows from the classic trade theory expounded
by economist David Ricardo in the early 1800s. Productivity gains can also
6 Productivity is defined as the amount of output that can be generated with a given level of
inputs, so a more productive firm can produce more than a less productive firm with the same
resources.

304  |  Chapter 7

occur within an industry if there is some heterogeneity between firms in that
industry (Melitz 2003), as labor and resources shift, in response to lower
trade costs, to the most efficient firms—those best able to take advantage of
the opportunity to export—thereby improving productivity in that sector.
Several studies find evidence of this phenomenon in U.S. manufacturing.
One study, which compares high- and low-productivity plants during a
time of falling tariffs and transportation costs finds that industry productiv‑
ity rises when trade costs fall (Bernard et al. 2006). Ebenstein et al. (2011)
find that industries where employment growth is highest in China tend to
be the industries in the United States that have declining unit labor costs
and increased productivity growth in the United States. This suggests that
Chinese import competition in the United States could be driving improve‑
ments in productivity.
A separate line of research considers that increases in export activity
offer firms opportunities to learn about foreign markets—perhaps even gain‑
ing technical expertise from foreign buyers—leading to increased productiv‑
ity. Productivity gains through exporting may also occur through increased
competition from foreign producers. This “learning-by-exporting” theory
has support in a literature spanning many countries and time periods. By
contrast, Clerides, Lach, and Tybout (1998) argue that the well-established
relationship between exporting and productivity is explained by the selec‑
tion of more productive firms into global markets.
Lower Prices. Perhaps the most broadly shared benefit of increased
trade is lower prices for consumers and producers in the domestic market.
By allowing our trading partners to produce the goods in which they are
relatively more efficient, the United States can import at lower prices than
would prevail if we were to produce the goods ourselves. This “specialize in
what you do best, trade for the rest” philosophy makes everyday goods and
services more affordable and enhances the real earning power of American
workers. In addition, recent estimates suggest that over one-half of all U.S.
imports are intermediate inputs into the production process; that interna‑
tional trade lowers prices on such inputs allows U.S. businesses to expand
by reducing input costs.
Greater Variety. Another underappreciated benefit of trade liberaliza‑
tion is increased variety for domestic consumers and producers. With new
importers come new products. This expanded selection increases the welfare
of consumers who appreciate having more choice. Broda and Weinstein
(2006) examine historical trade statistics and determine that the variety of
imported goods increased approximately three-fold between 1972 and 2001.
Conventional import price indices have trouble incorporating the value of
increased choice, so this finding suggests that import prices have effectively
The United States in a Global Economy   |  305

fallen even further than the conventional import price index would suggest.
The researchers estimate that this increased variety has provided U.S. con‑
sumers with value equivalent to 2.6 percent of GDP, or approximately $450
billion in 2014. Mostashari (2010) updates the calculations in Broda and
Weinstein (2006) and reports that the number of varieties of goods imported
into the United States increased 33 percent between 1989 and 2007.
More Innovation. A related strand of literature shows that when trade
barriers fall, domestic industries often respond through innovation and selfimprovement. Blundell et al. (1999) find that British firms in industries with
higher import penetration spent more on innovation. Bloom et al. (2011)
study how industries in 12 European countries fared after the elimination
of import quotas as part of the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.
They find that the increased trade catalyzed growth for high-tech, highinnovation firms. For these firms, spending on research and development
increased, use of ICT intensified, and total factor productivity improved.

The Labor Market Implications of Trade
Trade also has notable impacts on labor markets, many of them a
direct result of the classic gains from trade in terms of increased productiv‑
ity and innovation. U.S. businesses that expand in response to the increased
foreign market access due to U.S. trade agreements support—and may even
create—new jobs. The importance of such export-led job growth for the
Nation’s income is reinforced by the fact that wages in export-intensive
manufacturing industries tend to be higher than wages in non-exportintensive industries. Of course, while the aggregate benefits of trade may
be large, trade can also have adverse effects for some workers. Domestic
policies the Administration supports, such as investment in infrastructure,
worker training, and education, can help our labor force take advantage of
the considerable opportunities that trade opens up. For displaced workers
and their families, effective policies can help smooth the adjustment into
new, potentially higher-paying jobs.
Wages. Expanding U.S. market access abroad has important implica‑
tions for the workforce at home. A very long literature spanning decades and
many different countries highlights that exporting firms are systematically
different from non-exporting firms even within the same industrial category.
Bernard and Jensen (1995) were the first to document this fact for the United
States. They note that exporting plants are larger in terms of employment,
more productive in terms of value added per worker, more capital-intensive,
and pay higher wages. These differences persist even within detailed indus‑
trial categories, and controlling for firms’ regional locations.

306  |  Chapter 7

Figure 7-6
Characteristics of Export-Intensive and
Non-Export-Intensive Industries, 1989–2009

Deviation from the Industry Average

1.4

Export-Intensive

1.2

Non-Export-Intensive

1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0

Total Factor
Productivity
Growth

Average
Wages

Labor
Productivity

Value Added Capital Intensity
per Worker

Note: The deviation from the industry average is calculated as follows. Each industry’s
characteristic is measured relative to the industry average within the year and then averaged
over the 1989-2009 period and across export-intensive and non-export-intensive industry groups.
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research-Center for Economic Studies, Manufacturing
Industry Database; U.S. Cenusu Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics.

Figure 7-6 offers descriptive evidence relying on data from the U.S.
Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics matched to the National Bureau
of Economic Research’s (NBER) Manufacturing Industry Database (Becker,
Gray, and Marvakov 2013). Export-intensive industries are defined as those
industries with above-average values of exports as a fraction of total ship‑
ments (the export share) in 1989, and non-export-intensive industries are
those industries with below-average values of the export share in 1989.7
For ease of illustration, in order to report the various characteristics in
comparable units, the Figure shows deviations from the industry average,
calculated as described in the Figure note. On average over the 1989 to
2009 period of data availability, relative to non-export-intensive industries,
export-intensive industries report 51 percent higher total factor productiv‑
ity growth, 17 percent higher average wages (total wage bill per worker), 10
percent higher levels of labor productivity (total shipments per worker), 17
percent higher value added per worker, and 31 percent higher capital inten‑
sity (total real capital stock per worker), consistent with the findings in the
academic research.
7 The average export share across the 377 6-digit NAICS (North American Industrial
Classification System) industries was 12.7 percent in 1989.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  307

Box 7-2: Employment Impacts of Trade with China
The seismic event of the last three decades in the global economy
has been the emergence of China. Until 1979, the People’s Republic of
China was, as a matter of policy, essentially closed off from the global
economy. Over the subsequent two decades, over 730 million Chinese
workers integrated into the global labor force. Estimates of the direct
impact of these dynamics vary widely. Using variation in regional expo‑
sure to Chinese imports across U.S. labor markets to control for broad,
economy-wide changes in employment, Autor, Dorn, and Hanson
(2013) estimate that Chinese import competition can explain 44 percent
of the aggregate decline in U.S. domestic manufacturing employment
over this period. In a more recent expansion of this work, Acemoglu et al.
(forthcoming) find that increased Chinese exports to the United States
were directly responsible for roughly 10 percent of the manufacturing
jobs lost between 1999 and 2011.
These studies, however, do not capture the full story because they
do not incorporate how expanded U.S. exports boost employment and
the economy. To provide a rough sense of the relative magnitudes of
these effects, but without the same degree of causal certainty, CEA
performed an analysis of 377 six-digit NAICS manufacturing industries
from 1989 to 2009, using a specification similar to that of Autor, Dorn,
and Hanson (2013). The analysis confirms the view that increased
import penetration over the 1990s and 2000s is associated with decreas‑
ing U.S. manufacturing employment. The analysis also finds, however,
that a 10 percentage-point rise in an industry’s export share is associated
with about a 1.8 percent increase in industry employment. As the average
industry experienced about a 30 percentage-point increase in the export
share over this time period, exports are associated with more than a 5
percent increase in manufacturing employment for the average industry.
Taken together, the results suggest that, though increases in import
penetration were related to declines in manufacturing employment
in recent decades, increases in exports can, in many cases, offer some
offsetting effects. Future research into the relationship between exports
and employment can help to refine the estimates.

That exporters pay higher wages than similar non-exporters is a wellestablished feature of the data across many countries and over decades. For
the United States, estimates for the exporter wage premium (the amount by
which exporting industries and firms pay higher wages than non-exporting
industries and firms) range between 6 percent and 18 percent. Riker (2010)
estimates that workers employed in exporting manufacturing industries
earned approximately 18 percent more than similar workers employed in
308  |  Chapter 7

domestically-oriented manufacturing industries between 2006 and 2008.8
Controlling for industry differences, Bernard, Jensen, Redding, and Schott
(2007) document a 6-percent exporter wage premium in 2002: the average
annual wage at exporting manufacturing firms is 6 percent higher than
the average annual wage at domestically-oriented manufacturing firms.
In a simple analysis using data on individual-level annual earnings from
the Current Population Survey for the years 1989 to 2009, the Council of
Economic Advisers (CEA) confirms an exporter wage premium. Controlling
for time-invariant industry, state, and year factors, CEA’s analysis suggests
that the strong increase in exports over the 1990s and 2000s translates into
an additional $1,300 in annual earnings for workers in today’s dollars.
Inequality. Inequality has increased substantially since the 1970s.
Many countries, including China, began integrating into the global econ‑
omy beginning in the 1980s. The resulting increase of about 3.5 billion in
the globally integrated population led many to question the relationship
between increased globalization and inequality. Classic economic theory—
specifically, the Stolper-Samuelson effect (Stolper and Samuelson 1941)—
predicts that globalization will lead to an increase in wages for low-skilled
labor relative to high-skilled labor in countries where low-skilled labor is
abundant. The reverse is predicted to occur in high-skilled labor abundant
countries. Driving this effect, according to the theory, is that changes in
production patterns across countries change the relative demand for work‑
ers of different skill levels. But this effect was not seen in the data over the
1980s and 1990s. Instead, the education skill premium increased in a wide
range of countries during this time, including many relatively poor countries
(Goldberg and Pavcnik 2007).
Researchers, therefore, began to explore alternative explanations. If
classic trade theory is correct, the data should show reallocations of work‑
ers toward skill-intensive industries in the United States. Instead, Berman,
Bound, and Griliches (1994) documented that between-industry shifts in
employment were smaller than within-industry shifts in employment in
the United States and the United Kingdom over this time period. Based on
this evidence, they hypothesized that technological change played a more
important role than other factors in rising wage inequality in both the devel‑
oped and developing world, as those workers trained to use more advanced
information technology were increasingly in demand.
Alternative explanations subsequently surfaced, including differences
in factor intensity across firms, even within narrowly defined industrial
categories. As described earlier, exporting firms tend to be larger, more
8 In follow-up work, Riker and Thurner (2011) demonstrate that the relationship holds in
services industries as well.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  309

productive, more capital intensive, and they generally pay higher wages
than domestically oriented firms in the same industry. Bernard and Jensen
(1995, 1997) document shifts of employment and wages within an industry,
suggesting gains in the more productive, higher-wage exporting firms. There
may also be factor intensity differences across different stages of the produc‑
tion process. As illustrated in Feenstra and Hanson (1997, 1999), crossborder movements of capital can increase the skill intensity of production,
increasing the demand for skilled labor in both rich and poor countries—a
Stolper-Samuelson effect for trade in intermediate inputs. Finally, the nature
of international trade has changed dramatically in recent decades, including
reductions in ICT costs and the increased importance of emerging econo‑
mies in the global market.
Another question relates to the impact of trade agreements. In mak‑
ing an assessment of any particular trade agreement, it is important to dif‑
ferentiate between the overall effects of globalization and the specific effects
of that agreement. A review of the evidence suggests that the largest factors
behind the rise in inequality are likely technological change, the slowing
trend in educational attainment, and changes in labor market institutions
(such as the erosion of the real minimum wage and reduced unionization).
For most of our work force, the dominant influences on wages originate in
the domestic labor market (for example, see Blinder and Krueger 2013). But
the process of globalization, while creating generally higher-paying jobs, can
also be a contributor to wage inequality. This globalization, which has been
driven by massive demographic and technological changes that brought
billions more people into an increasingly connected global economy, would
occur regardless of whether any particular trade agreement enters into force
or not. Any particular agreement must be assessed based on an analysis of
its tariff provisions, its reduction of NTBs to exports, and its provisions that
promote higher standards. This can lead to a quite different outcome than
globalization more broadly. Labor and environmental protections in trade
agreements, in particular, would likely push in the opposite direction of
globalization-driven increases in inequality.

Development Benefits of Trade
The United States engages in international trade and free trade agree‑
ments to increase market-access opportunities for U.S. businesses and work‑
ers and to lower prices and increase options for U.S. consumers. In addition
to these benefits, it is important to recognize the impact trade has on global
growth and security. U.S. trade policy also has implications for labor rights
in our trading partners, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

310  |  Chapter 7

Global Growth
When countries specialize in the goods and services for which they
are relatively efficient and trade for the rest, world production and con‑
sumption increase as existing resources are more efficiently utilized. Simple
international trade theory, therefore, suggests that increased international
trade can boost incomes. However straightforward this may seem, it is actu‑
ally quite difficult to discern empirically a causal relationship between trade
and income.9 Frankel and Romer (1999) were among the first to report a
positive causal effect of trade on income. More recently, Feyrer (2009) relies
on a unique event in world history to identify changes in distance between
country-pairs—the closure and re-opening of the Suez Canal between 1967
and 1975. The closure of the canal increased the effective distance between
several country-pairs, and in some cases trade between affected countrypairs decreased substantially. Since some country-pairs were not affected by
the closing, this event offers a unique experiment to test how trade impacts
income. The author concludes that every dollar of increased trade raises
income by about 25 cents.
Poverty. As developing countries entered the world trading system,
concerns mounted about the impacts of trade on the well-being of the poor.
The literature on the impact of trade on GDP suggests a potential for poverty
to fall with increased international commerce. Unfortunately, if most of
the benefits accrue to the wealthy when a country’s income rises, the least
well-off citizens may not benefit enough to escape poverty. A large amount
of evidence suggests otherwise, however. Though within-country inequality
generally increased in the aftermath of globalization (see the earlier discus‑
sion), across-country global income inequality witnessed the first decline
since the Industrial Revolution, according to Milanovic (2013).
Hanson (2007) investigates the case of Mexico in the decade sur‑
rounding the implementation of NAFTA. Using state-level variation, the
author documents that individuals born in states with high-exposure to glo‑
balization have relatively higher wages than individuals born in states with
low-exposure to globalization. McCaig (2011) uses the 2001 U.S.-Vietnam
Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) to study the effects of increased market
access to rich countries on poverty in developing countries and finds that a
one standard deviation decrease in provincial tariffs is associated with a twoyear rate of poverty reduction of between 33 and 40 percent. By contrast,
work by Topalova (2007, 2010) on India’s 1991 trade liberalization provides
9 For instance, perhaps countries trade more because they are richer. Richer countries
have better trading infrastructure, such as ports, and better access to information about
opportunities abroad. The fundamental challenge for statistical inference, then, is that trade
may affect income, but income also affects trade.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  311

a different view. Although the incidence of poverty in rural India fell 13
percentage points around the liberalization—from 37 percent in 1987 to 24
percent in 1999—areas of that country more exposed to trade experienced
progress toward poverty reduction that was not as rapid as other areas.
Working Conditions. A common argument against trade integration
with countries in the developing world is the poor labor standards of those
countries. However, research finds that expanding access to U.S. markets
promotes higher-quality employment in less-developed countries as work‑
ers shift from informal to formal employment, with little empirical evidence
that local tariff reductions have an offsetting effect—meaning that the forces
unleashed by trade itself complement the effort to include enforceable labor
standards in free trade agreements.10 A recent paper by McCaig and Pavcnik
(2014) finds that employment shifts from the household business (informal)
sector to the formal enterprise sector in Vietnam in the aftermath of large
U.S. tariff reductions as part of the U.S.-Vietnam BTA. Similarly, Paz (2014)
reports that decreases in foreign market tariffs decrease domestic informal
employment in Brazil, while early work by Goldberg and Pavcnik (2003),
supported in Menezes-Filho and Muendler (2011), finds no evidence of a
link between declining import tariffs in Brazil and informal employment.
More importantly, work by Edmonds and Pavcnik (2005) documents a
decrease in child labor associated with increased international trade in
Vietnam.
Therefore, trade agreements that expand U.S. market access for coun‑
tries at a lower level of development can provide a market-based approach
to improving labor conditions in the developing world. High standard U.S.
trade agreements also contain commitments to promote and enforce work‑
ers’ rights. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) docu‑
ments the improvement in labor conditions in countries engaged in trade
agreements with the United States (DOL 2014).11

Gender Equality
Promoting gender equality is a key development goal in both the
developing world and in the United States. Importantly, since trade pro‑
motes international competition, it may also reduce firms’ leeway to dis‑
criminate against women. The classic Becker (1957) model of discrimination
predicts that costly discrimination cannot persist with increased market
10 Jobs in the informal sector are associated with lower wages, lower employee benefits, worse
working conditions, and lower job “quality” (Chapter 3 of this Report considers measures of
job quality in the United States).
11 For example, seven Latin American countries “significantly advanced” in terms of DOL’s
assessment of labor policies and practice related to child labor in 2013 from 2012. Five of the
seven countries have free trade agreements with the United States.

312  |  Chapter 7

competition. Therefore, as trade liberalization results in increased competi‑
tion in the domestic market, the gender wage gap should narrow. In line
with the theory, by investigating trade-affected manufacturing industries in
the United States between 1976 and 1993, Black and Brainerd (2004) find
that the residual gender wage gap narrowed more rapidly in initially more
concentrated industries that experienced larger increases in competition
with trade reform than in initially more competitive industries.

Political Cooperation
Strong economic ties between countries tend to coincide with strong
political cooperation. This notion was one of the foundational beliefs behind
the GATT texts in the aftermath of World War II, as well as a motivation
for the European Coal and Steel Community (known today as the European
Union) and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur) between
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Basic intuition about the benefits
of trade match these assertions; that is, two countries with a robust trading
partnership would be loath to make war on one another and would be eager
to cooperate on a variety of fronts, lest the substantial benefits of trade are
in any way adversely affected. In addition, international trade in goods and
services brings countries into contact with one another, reducing initial
prejudices.
Relying on data across 177 countries and 30 years, Blomberg and
Hess (2006) estimate that the presence of conflict acts as a tariff barrier—as
much as a 30-percent tariff on trade—larger than traditional policy barriers.
Martin, Mayer, and Thoenig (2008) find that countries with high barriers
to trade are more likely to make war because the opportunity cost of the
forgone trading relationship is low, but only for pairs of countries. The rela‑
tionship disappears in the multilateral setting, perhaps reflecting how mul‑
tilateral trade reduces the dependence of any one country on another, thus
lessening the trade-based costs of war for any given pair. Martin, Mayer, and
Thoenig (2012), therefore, suggest that international trade has changed the
nature of conflict. However, as with trade and income, identifying a causal
relationship between trade and conflict is complex, and as such, remains one
of the important open questions in international economics.

Environmental Protection
Trade agreements can raise environmental standards in countries
that otherwise would not be motivated to raise standards on their own. In
fact, the United States has a long history of pursuing mutually supportive
trade and environmental policies, and has found that strong, enforceable
environmental provisions pursued as part of our bilateral and regional trade
The United States in a Global Economy   |  313

agreements can help raise environmental standards in our trading partners,
leveling the playing field for workers and businesses in America.
In addition to this values-driven approach to trade policy, there are
two broad channels through which trade can impact the environment: by
changing the level of economic activity within trading countries, and by
changing the composition of economic activity among trading countries. In
each channel, there are ways in which trade can help encourage sustainable
development and promote environmental protection.
It is well-established that increases in trade activity among coun‑
tries go hand in hand with increases in their overall economic activity.
Environmentalists often point to this increase, known as the “scale effect,” as
a cause for worry. A greater scale of economic activity likely means increases
in transportation, shipping, production, and consumption—all pollutionemitting activities. Note, however, that much of this concern would apply to
any policy that increases productivity growth, including expanded research
and education.
Higher productivity is associated with higher real incomes. Greater
prosperity, in turn, can benefit the environment in multiple ways. Higher
real incomes create opportunities for investment in research and develop‑
ment in clean technology, allowing countries to “clean-up” production tech‑
niques. Higher real incomes can also generate greater ability and willingness
to adopt, enforce, and pay for higher standards of environmental quality.
For example, with more disposable income, families might be willing to pay
a little extra to buy a hybrid car, or install solar panels for home-electricity
generation.
Ultimately, increased economic activity both generates and curbs pol‑
lution; the overall effect on the environment depends on the relative magni‑
tudes of each change. Empirical studies have produced relatively consistent
results showing that trade does increase pollution, but also that accompany‑
ing emissions reductions from cleaner technology are enough to offset that
increase. For instance, Antweiler, Copeland, and Taylor (2001) remark that
if trade liberalization raises GDP per capita by 1 percent, then pollution
concentrations fall by about 1 percent. The authors decompose this effect
as follows: a 1 percent increase in the scale of economic activity raises pol‑
lution by around 0.5 percent, but the increase in income associated with
international trade drives down pollution by around 1.5 percent. Similarly,
Copeland and Taylor (2003) estimate the technique elasticity of pollution
reduction with respect to income to be negative and greater than -1; that is, a
given increase in real income is associated with an even greater reduction in
pollution in percentage terms. Grether, Mathys, and de Melo (2010) analyze
data on 62 countries and 7 manufacturing sectors and show that increases
314  |  Chapter 7

in worldwide trade flows between 1990 and 2000 are associated with a 2 to
3 percent decrease in global sulfur dioxide emissions. Further, they show
that manufacturing industries have become much cleaner over time—while,
globally, industry’s employment and output levels rose 10 to 20 percent
between 1990 and 2000, manufacturing emissions decreased by 10 percent.
In other words, the evidence suggests that, likely due to a global shift toward
cleaner technology, the net effect of increased trade on pollution is less than
or equal to zero.
Compositional changes that occur in the economies of trading
partners as trade promotes production specialization are a second mecha‑
nism behind trade’s environmental impacts. A popular assumption is that
specialization will send the most heavily polluting industries from rich
countries with stricter environmental regulation to poor countries, which
have relatively lax regulation. Theoretically, this migration would lead to an
increase in world pollution levels and the creation of “pollution havens” in
developing countries that, as exporters of the “dirtiest” goods, would bear
a disproportionate amount of global pollution burdens. In a worst-case
scenario, environmentalists say, a “race to the bottom” in environmental
regulation could ensue if developed countries saw an incentive to slow down
efforts to raise environmental protection in an effort to forestall the “dirty”
industries’ emigration. True, not all parties in a trade relationship can spe‑
cialize in the cleanest industries, but concerns about “pollution havens” and
“races to the bottom” are belied by the empirical evidence. In fact, there is
reason to believe that compositional changes could actually yield net envi‑
ronmental benefits.
Developed countries tend to be the best equipped for production of
high-polluting goods since the most-polluting industries, which include
manufacture of chemicals, metals, and paper, and oil refining, are capital
intensive. The basic economic theory of comparative advantage suggests
that those industries belong in countries with abundant capital—the richer,
developed countries. Poorer countries with less capital on hand are more
likely to specialize in industries that are more service-oriented and laborintensive, and less polluting. If this is true, the compositional effects of trade
could actually lead to reductions in global emissions, as pollution-intensive
production would occur in countries with stricter standards.
Of course, the issue is slightly more complicated, as environmental
regulation can increase the marginal cost of production in polluting indus‑
tries, driving them to less regulated countries. According to a 1999 WTO
report, however, the increased marginal cost of pollution abatement in
developed countries is no more than 1 percent of production costs for the
average polluter (a maximum of 5 percent for the worst polluters). Such
The United States in a Global Economy   |  315

small costs are likely not powerful enough to deter production and send
it elsewhere and, according to the WTO, the developed-country share of
global production in polluting industries has remained relatively constant at
around 75 to 80 percent over the past few decades (Nordstrom and Vaughan
1999). Regardless of environmental regulation, standard non-environmental
comparative advantage considerations seem to dominate location decisions.

Financial Flows
Financial flows are motivated by opportunities for mutual gain
analogous to those driving trade in goods and services. In a world with
uncertainty, cross-border flows of financial assets broaden the scope for
diversifying risk. The gains from international risk sharing are largest when
the sources of risk are country-specific; in that case, for example, a fall in the
returns to investment in one country can be offset by increases in returns
in other countries. Global financial markets also facilitate international
borrowing and lending. If such activity across borders were prohibited,
domestic investment would be limited by the supply of national saving.
With integrated capital markets, however, the global supply of saving can
be invested in the locations where it is most productive and therefore yields
the highest returns. When markets function without distortions, the ability
to diversify across countries and to allocate investment to its most produc‑
tive use results in a globally efficient allocation of capital, higher returns to
investment, and reduced wealth volatility—all shared by people around the
world. In particular, net export deficits, which require foreign financing, do
not necessarily imply lower economic growth, and may well be associated
with higher growth (see Box 7-3).
Along with the benefits of financial market integration come substan‑
tial risks, as was amply demonstrated by the waves of crises that have swept
through global financial markets since the 1980s. The increasingly tight
interconnections among financial systems mean that disturbances in one
market have the potential to reverberate around the globe. As discussed in
this chapter, given the interdependence among national financial systems,
it is not enough for national regulators to “keep one’s own house in order,”
but governments must work together to develop and implement policies to
safeguard global stability.
Figure 7-7 illustrates the expansion of global financial flows relative to
the growth in world trade in goods and services and world GDP since 1985.
In this Figure, trade is measured as the average of global exports and imports
and gross global asset flows are the average of inflows and outflows. Both
global trade and GDP have grown since the 1980s, trade faster than GDP.

316  |  Chapter 7

Figure 7-7
Growth of Global GDP, Trade in Goods and Services,
and Financial Flows, 1985–2013

Index, 1985=100
3,500
3,000

Gross Financial
Flows

2,500
2,000
1,500

2013

1,000

Trade

500
0

GDP
1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Note: All data are in nominal U.S. dollars. Global trade is defined as the average of global exports and
imports of goods and services. Gross global financial flows are defined as the sum of direct
investment, portfolio investment, and foreign exchange reserves. Values are obtained by averaging
inflows and outflows to account for measurement error.
Source: UNCTAD; IMF, International Financial Statistics.

But even the pace of trade growth pales in comparison with that of interna‑
tional financial flows in the early to mid-2000s. Some of the increased asset
trade can be attributed to the removal of capital controls and other barriers
to cross-border investment. The advanced economies were the first to lower
barriers to capital flow as countries moved from fixed to flexible exchange
rates in the early 1970s. Emerging markets followed suit in the 1990s as they
became more integrated into global markets. But the pace of globalization in
financial markets exploded in the 2000s, reaching its zenith on the eve of the
global financial crisis in 2007, driven primarily by cross-border bank loans.
A notable retrenchment of cross-border asset trade occurred in 2008; and in
2012 and 2013 the volume of global financial flows has hovered around $4
trillion, or roughly 5.5 percent of world GDP.
The expansion of financial flows coincided with increased financial‑
ization within countries and the expansion of banking services across coun‑
tries. Between 1980 and 2000, the share of the financial sector in the United
States doubled from 4 to 8 percent of GDP (Philippon and Reshef, 2013). Up
until the 1990s, international banking expanded in line with the growth in
international trade and foreign direct investment as banks provided services
supporting the international operations of business firms. There was a sharp
liftoff in global banking activity in the 2000s as both the volume of crossborder banking and the number of international subsidiaries and branches
The United States in a Global Economy   |  317

expanded. At its peak in 2007, international claims of banks (cross-border
claims and local claims in foreign currency) accounted for over 60 percent
of global GDP (Goldberg 2013).

Composition of International Capital Flows
International financial markets offer genuine opportunities for invest‑
ment and risk sharing, but they also serve as conduits for the cross-border
transmission of economic shocks, as well as for arbitrage between national
regulatory and tax systems. From a stability perspective, the composition
of international financial flows matters, as does the economic motivation
underlying these transactions. Table 7-2 shows the breakdown of total global
financial flows into foreign direct investment, equity transactions, and debt
and loans. Each of these flows is discussed in turn.
Foreign direct investment involves the acquisition of an ownership
stake of 10 percent or more in a foreign firm. Economic studies suggest
that FDI is associated with the transfer of technology and that foreignowned firms tend to be more productive than domestic firms.12 Alquist,
Mukherjee, and Tesar (2014) find that FDI also serves as a source of liquidity
in emerging markets where borrowing conditions are tight. This is especially
beneficial during periods of financial stress in the local market, when the
firm might otherwise be forced to liquidate assets, but instead can borrow
from its parent. FDI has become an increasingly important form of crossborder capital investment. Its share of total financial inflows has increased
in both advanced countries and emerging markets. In 2013, FDI accounted
for almost one-half of international financial flows though the increase in
the share is in part driven by the fall off in portfolio debt and loans. One
reason for the growth of FDI is the desire of multinational firms to establish
more finely articulated global supply chains that better exploit the scope for
international specialization of production tasks.
Not all capital flows through multinationals are benign, however.
International differences in tax rates can provide incentives for firms to
engage in transactions that shift income from high-tax to low-tax jurisdic‑
tions in order to minimize their global tax liability. In one example of “earn‑
ings stripping,” a U.S. firm with a parent in a low-tax jurisdiction outside
the United States simply borrows from its foreign parent. The interest pay‑
ments on that loan are deductible in the United States and are taxed abroad,
reducing the firm’s overall global tax liability. While this shifting of profits
12 For evidence on technology transfer and productivity gains from FDI in the U.S., see Keller
and Yeaple (2009) and Haskel, Perreira, and Slaughter (2007) for evidence from the UK.
See Poole (2013) on wage and productivity spillovers from FDI in Brazil and Kee (2014) on
evidence from Bangladesh.

318  |  Chapter 7

Table 7-2
Gross Global Financial Flows, 1985-2013
Gross Global Financial Flows

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2013

385

1031

1688

4244

7429

6150

4170

19

16

130

756

929

719

Levels (Billions of U.S. Dollars)
Total

Direct Investment
Portfolio Equity

Portfolio Debt and Loans

Of which: FX Reserves

Shares

Direct Investment
Portfolio Equity

Portfolio Debt and Loans

59

250

365

1503

1392

307

765

1192

1985

5109

100%

100%

100%

5%

2%

8%

14

15%
80%

90

24%
74%

190

22%
71%

1740

1944

803

632

3691

1181

1423

100%

100%

100%

100%

18%

13%

12%

19%

178

35%
47%

Note: Levels represented in nominal dollars. FX reserves are foreign exchange reserves.
Source: International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Statistics.

19%
69%

28%
60%

723

47%
34%

is achieved without changing the consolidated balance sheet of the firm, the
transaction does artificially inflate global gross financial flows by generating
two offsetting international debt transactions, the only purpose of which
is tax avoidance.13 Transactions can be much more complicated than this
simple example and can be very difficult to track. And to be sure, not all such
transactions are for tax avoidance purposes. The full amount of revenue
lost to the U.S. Treasury through tax avoidance is difficult to estimate but
the Treasury Department estimates that a single proposal to limit interest
deductions for U.S. firms with much more debt than their foreign parent
and its affiliates abroad would raise $64 billion over the period 2016 to 2025.
See Chapter 5 for a detailed discussion of the international ramifications of
the President’s approach to business tax reform.
Portfolio equity investment involves the purchase of shares in foreign
companies. Share prices tend to be volatile and when markets in different
countries fall together, as happened in the 2007-08 crisis, even a globally
diversified portfolio of equity does not provide much insurance. An advan‑
tage of equities, however, is that the international distribution of payoffs
happens automatically through changing share values and dividend pay‑
ments without the risk of default, which can adversely affect financial market
stability when debtors’ problems impair the perceived creditworthiness of
their creditors.
13 Suppose the foreign parent lends a $1 bank deposit in London to its U.S. affiliate, which
moves the $1 to its own London account. Then there is a financial inflow to the United States
(the foreign borrowing by the U.S. affiliate) and an offsetting financial outflow from the U.S.
(the U.S. affiliate acquires a $1 deposit in London). Corporate debt interest rates generally
exceed bank deposit rates, however, so profits are indeed shifted out of the U.S. In the process,
the global level of gross international financial flows rises by $2.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  319

Box 7-3: Have U.S. Trade Deficits Reduced Output and Employment?
Countries that engage in free international trade rarely have bal‑
anced trade—the state in which exports and imports are equal in value.
Instead, they may lend to other countries when exports exceed imports,
or borrow from them in the opposite case. The U.S. economy has run
trade deficits in every year since 1976, borrowing from abroad in inter‑
national financial markets to make up the difference between spending
and income.
Economic commentators sometimes argue that these trade deficits
have been a drag on the Nation’s economic growth and employment,
and that reducing trade deficits (perhaps by restricting international
trade) would have resulted in more U.S. output and jobs. On the surface,
their argument seems straightforward: demand for imports, if somehow
re-directed to U.S. goods, would raise domestic demand, presumably
generating more production by U.S. businesses and more employment
to support that production. The truth, however, is substantially more
complicated.
The factors that give rise to higher imports often raise demand for
domestic goods at the same time. Eliminating those sources of higher
import demand would therefore reduce, not raise, output and jobs.
Moreover, measures a government might take to reduce imports can
have effects elsewhere in the economy that counteract any anticipated
improvement in the trade deficit. For example, a protective tariff may,
in the first instance, make imports more expensive, but, by moving
the balance of payments toward a surplus, the tariff will also lead the
home currency to appreciate against foreign currencies, making imports
cheaper again and exports less competitive. That change is likely to
neutralize most or all of the trade-balance effect of the tariff, but at the
cost of a more distorted allocation of resources (which lowers output
below potential).
Another way to see the fallacy is to realize that a trade deficit, which
requires funding from foreign lenders, also means that our own saving
is insufficient to finance domestic investment; whereas a trade surplus
means that our saving is more than sufficient, with the excess of saving
over domestic investment being lent to foreigners (who themselves must
be running a trade deficit in this case). Trade balance improvement
therefore requires some combination of a rise in saving or a fall in invest‑
ment, neither of which generally causes higher output or job growth.
Because of this relationship, the U.S. trade balance is highly
countercyclical, tending to register bigger deficits when the economy is
stronger, not weaker (as Figure 7-ii shows). Not surprisingly, this same
pattern holds across most industrial economies. For advanced econo‑

320  |  Chapter 7

mies in general, bigger trade deficits are associated with stronger, not
weaker, growth because they tend to reflect higher overall demand that
raises imports at the same time as it raises output. True, if imports were
lower and nothing else in the economy changed, output would have to
be higher to balance domestic supply with demand. In reality, however,
it is impossible for policies to change imports without affecting a range
of other macroeconomic variables in ways that will not necessarily help
economic growth, and may well hurt it.
The preceding discussion of the short-term relation between
trade deficits and economic performance is only part of the story, of
course. On the one hand, countries that have trade deficits because their
higher investment levels are financing productive ventures will also see
faster growth over the medium to long terms. But countries with poor
investment allocation will eventually see their national income reduced,
meaning that the short-run demand boost from higher investment will
result in a long-run cost for the economy. In addition, large current
account deficits can lead to financial instability—especially for emerging
economies.
The bottom line is that the relationship between the trade balance
and growth depends on circumstances and can vary according to the fac‑
tors that cause the trade balance to change. Understanding those factors
is essential, however, before we can decide if policies to alter the trade
balance are desirable, and if so, what the proper policy choice would be.
Figure 7-ii
U.S. Trade Deficits and Economic Activity, 1980–2014

Percent of GDP
12

Percent Unemployed

9

Trade Deficit
(left axis)

Percent
Unemployed
(right axis)

6

2014

10
8

3

6

0
Negative Output
Gap
(left axis)

-3
-6
-9

12

1980

1985

1990

4
2

1995

2000

2005

2010

0

Note: Trade deficit illustrated is the deficit on goods and services. The negative output gap is
calculated by subtracting potential GDP from actual GDP.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Bureau of Labor Statistics; International Monetary
Fund.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  321

Viewed through the lens of optimal portfolio diversification, holdings
of cross-border equity are still low, even in advanced economies. Figure 7-8
shows the degree of “home equity bias” in the U.S. equity portfolio. Home
equity bias measures the percent of their shares that U.S. stock owners invest
in the U.S. market, adjusted for the size of the U.S. stock market in the
world market. If U.S. investors maximized their diversification by investing
in home equities exactly in proportion to the size of the U.S. stock market
in the world stock market, the degree of their home bias would be zero.14
But if they invested nothing abroad, their home bias would be 100 percent.
As shown in Figure 7-8, home bias has been declining since 2000 but still
remains above 60 percent. Of course, setting portfolio weights equal to mar‑
ket shares is just one benchmark from which to judge the extent of home
bias. Other benchmarks would emerge from a portfolio allocation strategy
based on an assumption about how investors trade off risk and return. The
advantage of the market-share benchmark is that it is simple to interpret and
the implied shares are stable over time.
Far from being just a U.S. phenomenon, home bias is a fairly universal
description of national portfolio choice. Using data from other countries,
Coeurdacier and Rey (2013) report home bias ratios in 2008 ranging from 50
percent for individual euro area countries to 99 percent in Brazil and China.
In emerging markets, extensive home bias is still likely to reflect barriers to
international capital flows. In advanced economies, however, other factors
such as limited information about foreign markets, institutional frictions,
and perceptions about the riskiness of foreign markets continue to affect
portfolio decisions. The chief takeaway here is that, as globalized as financial
markets seem to be, there remains scope for further diversification gains
through trade in equity shares. It is remarkable that home equity bias persists
despite the high volumes of activity in international financial markets and
the very large gross external asset and liability positions—sometimes mul‑
tiples of GDP—that many (especially industrial) countries have developed.
A major weakness in the current financial system is the strong bias
toward debt finance and flows of debt finance through banks. Though debt
flows have declined as a share of total flows and home bias in debt portfolios
has declined, debt transactions remain central to international finance. And,
as was learned in the recent financial crisis, debt contracts have features that
can be extremely damaging in some (and not altogether rare) circumstances.
Unlike equities, payoffs on debt contracts are fixed and do not take
account of unexpected economic shocks that may make full repayment
14 If s is the share of their stocks that U.S. residents invest in the U.S. stock market and s* is
the share of the U.S. stock market in the global stock market, then the degree of U.S. investors’
𝑠𝑠 − 𝑠𝑠 ∗
home bias is defined as 100 ×
.
1 − 𝑠𝑠 ∗

322  |  Chapter 7

Figure 7-8
U.S. Equity Home Bias, 2000–2013

Percent
90

82.8

80

75.8 77.1

73.9 74.0

70

70.5

67.4

64.9

66.8 65.1

60

63.1 62.4
60.9 60.7

50
40
30
20
10
0

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

Source: Federal Reserve Board, World Federation of Exchanges.

2010

2012

difficult or impossible. If the borrower hits hard times, the options are to
renegotiate with the lender or default. The advantage of debt contracts is
that they are structurally and informationally quite simple—payoffs on debt
are not contingent on the performance of either party (provided there is no
default), avoiding some types of moral hazard. Given this simple structure,
debt contracts can easily be priced, securitized, and re-sold to third parties
under tranquil financial market conditions. The disadvantage, as repeated
debt crises have demonstrated, is that in the event the borrower is unwilling
or unable to pay, the amount of the payoff is unknown and depends on the
enforceability of the original contract. Further, widespread borrower stress
can lead to lender runs—refusals to roll over maturing debts—along with
evaporation of market liquidity and a breakdown in the market’s ability to
fairly price some debt securities. The institutions supporting debt contracts
vary from place to place, and may change over time. International lenders
learned the hard way that, for example, mortgages in the United States are
non-recourse loans, meaning that the loan is secured by a pledge of collat‑
eral (the house itself) but the borrower is not personally liable for the loan.
In many other countries, the lender can place a lien against the borrower’s
income or seize other assets in the event of default.
The international financial system is strongly biased toward debt for
several reasons. One is deposit insurance and implicit bailout guarantees,
which effectively subsidize bank intermediation and, in some countries,
The United States in a Global Economy   |  323

result in globally active banks that are too big to fail. Second, tax laws tend
to favor debt over equity, tilting investment portfolios toward debt and
away from equity, as discussed in Chapter 5. Third, equity markets remain
under-developed in some poorer developing countries, where the returns
to investment are arguably still high. Fourth, national policies to promote
home ownership effectively subsidize mortgage lending and the resulting
securitized instruments.
An important caveat to the data in Table 7-2 is that they may under‑
state the degree of debt bias in international financial flows. Official statistics
classify cross-border lending between affiliated nonfinancial companies as
FDI, even though these transactions take the form of debt. Thus, some FDI
actually has no equity component, and instead is associated with some of
the same risks as conventional lending flows (see Avdjiev, Chui, and Shin
2014). And as described above, some of these debt flows are motivated by
tax avoidance. On the other hand, the amount of debt in the system could be
overstated if it is measured both when debt is issued by the foreign affiliate
and when it flows back to the headquarter firm.
The widespread global bias toward debt was a key contributor to the
severity of the recent financial crisis and its global transmission. As is now
well understood, the seeds of the crisis were sown in the U.S. mortgage mar‑
ket. Securitization of subprime loans meant that exposure to delinquent U.S.
mortgages was spread throughout the financial system, in the United States
and abroad. The troubled mortgage problem was not confined to the United
States, however, as real estate values and credit volumes rose rapidly in many
countries during the 2000s. Lax regulation and asset booms occurred simul‑
taneously, and, for somewhat different reasons, in Iceland, Ireland, Spain,
the United Kingdom and many other countries. At the same time, high lev‑
els of global saving kept world interest rates low, making debt cheap relative
to other forms of finance. At a national level, low borrowing costs allowed
some governments to finance macro imbalances through easy foreign bor‑
rowing and to postpone tough policy choices. Optimism about the euro
project resulted in low sovereign debt spreads in the euro area’s peripheral
economies that did not reflect the actual risk of their national balance sheets,
especially given the sizes and vulnerabilities of their banks. Ultimately, as
housing prices started to fall and as different parts of the financial system
suffered lender runs, the close interconnections among highly levered finan‑
cial institutions threatened to destabilize the entire system.

Challenges in Regulating Global Financial Markets
The global crisis exposed regulatory gaps and inconsistencies across
countries, exacerbated by the free flow of capital across borders. With
324  |  Chapter 7

hindsight, the problems are easy to list: excessive leverage of banks and other
financial institutions; lack of transparency and regulation in derivatives
markets; increased importance of financial activity outside of the regulated
banking sector (the “shadow banks”); and failure on the part of regulators to
recognize the way in which risks were transferred across borders, between
different types of financial institutions, and between the financial system and
governments. The risks of new financial instruments were not well under‑
stood and few connected the dots between global imbalances, globally rapid
credit expansion, and asset price bubbles, especially in housing markets.
In the United States, the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street
Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 was an important step toward
addressing problems at the core of the financial crisis. Wall Street Reform
addressed difficult systemic problems by: appointing a new Financial
Stability Oversight Council to monitor the stability of the U.S. financial sys‑
tem as a whole, not just the safety and soundness of individual institutions;
creating a process to resolve “too big to fail” firms without government bail‑
outs; increasing transparency into previously unreported and unregulated
financial products and services, to allow trading partners and investors to
more accurately assess the risks associated with a contract or investment;
centralizing previously scattered consumer financial protection authority
under a single, new regulator; and better aligning the incentives for financial
firms and their executives with the long-term health of both the firm and the
broader economy. Several of these measures are still being enacted, but Wall
Street Reform has already reined in many practices that led to the financial
crisis. It is essential for domestic and global stability that Wall Street Reform
be fully implemented.
However, the tight interconnections between domestic and interna‑
tional financial institutions mean that individual nations’ efforts to “keep
one’s own house in order” are insufficient fully to attain global financial
stability. Particularly challenging in the international context is the pres‑
ence of currency risk—since internationally active banks do business in
several major currencies—and regulatory arbitrage that exploits gaps and
inconsistencies among national regulatory frameworks. The Basel process
of international regulatory coordination emerged as a response to these
challenges. The United States has provided strong leadership in developing
and implementing the resulting international guidelines for monitoring and
regulating international banking.
The Basel process has developed under the auspices of the Bank for
International Settlements (BIS) and has its roots in the financial market
turmoil that followed the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of managed
exchange rates in the 1970s (BIS 2014). In 1974, central bank governors of
The United States in a Global Economy   |  325

the G-10 countries established the Committee on Banking and Regulation
and Supervisory Practices and agreed to a set of principles regarding
minimal capital standards and rules for regulating and sharing information
among national regulators (the “Concordat”). At the outset, the concern
was that international supervisory coverage be expanded so that no foreign
banking establishment would be outside of the scope of supervision and that
such supervision be consistent across member jurisdictions.
The outbreak of the debt crisis in Latin America in the early 1980s
threatened the solvency of a number of large international banks and
prompted revision of the Basel rulebook. The committee’s attention shifted
toward capital adequacy standards, now referred to as Basel I. The 1988
Accord called for a minimum capital ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets
and the need to include off-balance sheet transactions. Ultimately, these
capital provisions were adopted by all countries with active international
banks. The Basel agreements were amended over time as banking activity
expanded and broadened in scope. Basel II, finalized in June 2004, included
three “pillars”: minimal capital requirements; supervisory review of a bank’s
capital adequacy and its internal assessment process; and effective use of
disclosure to strengthen market discipline.
The recent financial crisis has resulted in a third round of major revi‑
sions, which now involve the full G-20 membership, with a target date of
2019 for full implementation. The Basel III package strengthens the Basel II
standards and contains the additional components enumerated in Table 7-3.
Other international institutions play a supporting role in global
financial regulation. The BIS is also known as the “central bankers’ bank”:
it supports central banks in implementing the Basel III measures, and also
houses the global Financial Stability Board established in its present form by
the G-20 in 2009. The International Monetary Fund is a central institution
for policy analysis, data reporting, and the provision of a global safety net
through its lending operation and conditionality. The World Bank provides
policy advice and financial assistance, particularly to low- to middle-income
countries.
While the Basel process is a critical step forward in the global regula‑
tion of the financial sector, some important challenges remain. First, the
Basel rules formally apply only to internationally active banks and the mea‑
sures are focused almost exclusively on building ex ante capital and liquidity
buffers at banks to prevent a crisis and less on tools that governments might
use in the event of a crisis. There is broad consensus that there is a need for
more capital and less liquidity risk in the banking system, especially for large
systemically important institutions. There is less agreement that augmented
bank capital and liquidity standards alone will be sufficient for preventing a
326  |  Chapter 7

Table 7-3
Additional Basel III Components
Component

Description

Capital Protection

A supplemental layer of common equity that, when infringed upon,
prohibits the distribution of earnings to assist in protecting the
minimum common equity requirement.

Countercyclical Capital
Preservation

A constraint placed on banks during credit booms with the intention
of reducing their losses in the event of a credit bust.

Leverage Percentage

A minimum amount of loss-absorbing capital relative to the bank’s
assets and off-balance sheet liabilities irrespective of risk-weighting.

Liquidity Reserves
Additional Measures to
Govern Vital Banks

A minimum liquidity ratio to distribute enough cash to cover
funding necessities over a month-long period of stress.
Such as requirements for additional capital, fortified arrangements
for cross-border management, and resolution for banks that are large
enough to destabilize the financial system.

Source: Bank for International Settlements.

future crisis, particularly in light of the wide-ranging activities undertaken
by non-bank financial institutions. The Federal Reserve has imposed stricter
capital standards than Basel for U.S. banks, is proposing an even larger
capital requirement for systemically important U.S. banks, and has required
foreign banking organizations with U.S. non-branch assets over $50 billion
to set up holding companies subject to Federal Reserve regulation (Tarullo
2014).
A second challenge is the implementation of the Basel policies. Not
all G-20 members have fully implemented the recommended policies, and
there remains the general problem that financial regulation and supervision
remain largely at the national level but the externalities of weak financial
institutions are potentially global. As Mervyn King, former Governor of
the Bank of England, observed: “Financial institutions are global in life,
but national in death.” That is, liquid financial institutions are everyone’s
bank in the good times, but become the government’s bank in the event of a
liquidity shortage or insolvency. For many countries, particularly in Europe,
the size of the banking sector (indeed in some cases, the size of individual
banks), remains larger than national GDP. Yet mechanisms are not in place
to mobilize massive liquidity in multiple currencies in the event of a credi‑
tor run. And if a bank is not just illiquid but also insolvent and needs to be
resolved, its size could overwhelm the resources of its home government.
Moreover, processes for unwinding large globally active systemic institu‑
tions, especially when several governments are involved, remain imperfect.
The United States in a Global Economy   |  327

Another challenge that is particular to global regulation is that
countries are inherently different, with different sizes and business mod‑
els of financial institutions and differing degrees of dependence on those
institutions. This creates a trade-off between rules that apply equally to all
countries, and the need for regulation that is sensitive to macroeconomic
and financial conditions at different times and in different places. In other
words, there may be a tradeoff between the rules that create a level playing
field, where all financial actors are treated equally, and the rules that create a
safe playing field that recognizes asymmetries across players.
Deeper coordination does eventually seem to happen when minds
become concentrated on the brink of disaster. But that is not enough and it
has been harder to sustain cooperative momentum in periods of calm. Yet it
is precisely in periods of calm when the investments and preparation for the
next crisis need to occur. It is critical to maintain the pressure for financial
reform while the memory of the last financial crisis is still fresh. Ultimately,
international financial markets are necessary for risk mitigation, growth,
and innovation, not just in the United States but in the global economy. For
these markets to provide maximum benefits, however, governments must
recognize potential risks and continue to collaborate in containing and
managing them, just as they have collaborated in creating institutions and
rules for the international trading system.

Conclusion
Through trade and financial linkages, the world’s economies are more
interdependent than at any time in history. This interdependence has been
supported not only by steep declines in the costs of international commu‑
nication and shipping, but also by a reduction in governmental barriers to
the cross-border movement of goods, services, investment, and portfolio
assets. Increasingly, economies are linked by production processes that
cross international borders so as to minimize costs by better exploiting local
comparative advantages.
The post-World War II process of globalization has delivered impor‑
tant benefits for U.S. consumers, workers, and businesses by increasing
economies’ productivity, opening new markets for exports, and expand‑
ing the range of products available for purchase. Expanded trade has also
improved peoples’ lives in other, indirect ways, for example, raising living
and working standards in other countries, and locking in meaningful envi‑
ronmental protections.
Since the benefits of trade are often unevenly distributed, it is impor‑
tant that globalization be accompanied by domestic and international

328  |  Chapter 7

safeguards that prevent unfair trade practices. Such safeguards include poli‑
cies that limit damage to the environment, protect displaced workers, and
regulate risky financial practices that could cause financial instability.
Domestic U.S. policies are essential to help our economy take advan‑
tage of the opportunities afforded by trade along with measures to counteract
the potentially negative side effects of trade. But beyond these purely domes‑
tic safeguards, an evolving structure of multilateral and regional agreements
has worked to lower international trade barriers while reining in predatory
trade practices and negative side effects. The World Trade Organization is
central to that effort. In addition, the Administration is pursing compre‑
hensive, high-quality free trade agreements that provide U.S. exporters with
enhanced market access while insisting that our trading partners do not
compete on the basis of low worker- or environmental-protection standards.
In the financial sphere, international governmental collaboration and a
set of central organizations including the Basel Committee, the Financial
Stability Board, and the International Monetary Fund are key components
in constructing a global safety net for crisis prevention and management.

The United States in a Global Economy   |  329

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A P P E N D I X

A

REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT
ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC
ADVISERS DURING 2014

letter of transmittal
Council of Economic Advisers
Washington, D.C., December 31, 2014
Mr. President:
The Council of Economic Advisers submits this report on its activities
during calendar year 2014 in accordance with the requirements of the
Congress, as set forth in section 10(d) of the Employment Act of 1946 as
amended by the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978.
Sincerely yours,
	
	
	

Jason Furman, Chairman
Betsey Stevenson, Member
Maurice Obstfeld, Member

Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  367

Council Members and Their Dates of Service
Name 	

Position 	

Oath of office date 	 Separation date

Edwin G. Nourse	
Leon H. Keyserling	
	
	
John D. Clark	
	
Roy Blough	
Robert C. Turner	
Arthur F. Burns	
Neil H. Jacoby	
Walter W. Stewart	
Raymond J. Saulnier	
	
Joseph S. Davis	
Paul W. McCracken	
Karl Brandt	
Henry C. Wallich	
Walter W. Heller	
James Tobin	
Kermit Gordon	
Gardner Ackley	
	
John P. Lewis	
Otto Eckstein	
Arthur M. Okun	
	
James S. Duesenberry	
Merton J. Peck	
Warren L. Smith	
Paul W. McCracken	
Hendrik S. Houthakker	
Herbert Stein	
	
Ezra Solomon	
Marina v.N. Whitman	
Gary L. Seevers	
William J. Fellner	
Alan Greenspan 	
Paul W. MacAvoy	
Burton G. Malkiel	
Charles L. Schultze	
William D. Nordhaus	
Lyle E. Gramley	
George C. Eads	
Stephen M. Goldfeld	
Murray L. Weidenbaum	
William A. Niskanen	

Chairman	
Vice Chairman	
Acting Chairman	
Chairman	
Member	
Vice Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman 	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	

August 9, 1946	
August 9, 1946
November 2, 1949
May 10, 1950	
August 9, 1946
May 10, 1950	
June 29, 1950	
September 8, 1952	
March 19, 1953	
September 15, 1953	
December 2, 1953	
April 4, 1955
December 3, 1956	
May 2, 1955	
December 3, 1956	
November 1, 1958	
May 7, 1959	
January 29, 1961	
January 29, 1961	
January 29, 1961	
August 3, 1962
November 16, 1964	
May 17, 1963	
September 2, 1964	
November 16, 1964
February 15, 1968	
February 2, 1966	
February 15, 1968	
July 1, 1968	
February 4, 1969	
February 4, 1969	
February 4, 1969
January 1, 1972	
September 9, 1971	
March 13, 1972	
July 23, 1973	
October 31, 1973	
September 4, 1974	
June 13, 1975	
July 22, 1975	
January 22, 1977	
March 18, 1977	
March 18, 1977	
June 6, 1979	
August 20, 1980	
February 27, 1981	
June 12, 1981	

368  |  Appendix A

November 1, 1949
January 20, 1953
February 11, 1953
August 20, 1952
January 20, 1953
December 1, 1956
February 9, 1955
April 29, 1955
January 20, 1961
October 31, 1958
January 31, 1959
January 20, 1961
January 20, 1961
November 15, 1964
July 31, 1962
December 27, 1962
February 15, 1968
August 31, 1964
February 1, 1966
January 20, 1969
June 30, 1968
January 20, 1969
January 20, 1969
December 31, 1971
July 15, 1971
August 31, 1974
March 26, 1973
August 15, 1973
April 15, 1975
February 25, 1975
January 20, 1977
November 15, 1976
January 20, 1977
January 20, 1981
February 4, 1979
May 27, 1980
January 20, 1981
January 20, 1981
August 25, 1982
March 30, 1985

Council Members and Their Dates of Service
Name 	

Position 	

Oath of office date 	 Separation date

Jerry L. Jordan	
Martin Feldstein	
William Poole	
Beryl W. Sprinkel	
Thomas Gale Moore	
Michael L. Mussa	
Michael J. Boskin	
John B. Taylor	
Richard L. Schmalensee	
David F. Bradford	
Paul Wonnacott	
Laura D’Andrea Tyson	
Alan S. Blinder	
Joseph E. Stiglitz	
	
Martin N. Baily 	
Alicia H. Munnell	
Janet L. Yellen	
Jeffrey A. Frankel	
Rebecca M. Blank	
Martin N. Baily	
Robert Z. Lawrence	
Kathryn L. Shaw	
R. Glenn Hubbard	
Mark B. McClellan	
Randall S. Kroszner	
N. Gregory Mankiw	
Kristin J. Forbes	
Harvey S. Rosen	
	
Ben S. Bernanke	
Katherine Baicker	
Matthew J. Slaughter	
Edward P. Lazear	
Donald B. Marron	
Christina D. Romer	
Austan D. Goolsbee	
	
Cecilia Elena Rouse	
Katharine G. Abraham	
Carl Shapiro	
Alan B. Krueger	
James H. Stock	
Jason Furman	
Betsey Stevenson	
Maurice Obstfeld	

Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chair	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chair	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Chair	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Chairman	
Member	
Member	

July 14, 1981	
October 14, 1982	
December 10, 1982	
April 18, 1985	
July 1, 1985	
August 18, 1986	
February 2, 1989	
June 9, 1989	
October 3, 1989	
November 13, 1991	
November 13, 1991	
February 5, 1993	
July 27, 1993	
July 27, 1993
June 28, 1995	
June 30, 1995	
January 29, 1996	
February 18, 1997	
April 23, 1997	
October 22, 1998	
August 12, 1999	
August 12, 1999	
May 31, 2000	
May 11, 2001	
July 25, 2001	
November 30, 2001	
May 29, 2003	
November 21, 2003	
November 21, 2003	
February 23, 2005	
June 21, 2005	
November 18, 2005	
November 18, 2005	
February 27, 2006	
July 17, 2008	
January 29, 2009	
March 11, 2009	
September 10, 2010	
March 11, 2009	
April 19, 2011	
April 19, 2011	
November 7, 2011	
February 7, 2013	
August 4, 2013	
August 6, 2013
July 21, 2014

July 31, 1982
July 10, 1984
January 20, 1985
January 20, 1989
May 1, 1989
September 19, 1988
January 12, 1993
August 2, 1991
June 21, 1991
January 20, 1993
January 20, 1993
April 22, 1995
June 26, 1994
February 10, 1997
August 30, 1996
August 1, 1997
August 3, 1999
March 2, 1999
July 9, 1999
January 19, 2001
January 12, 2001
January 19, 2001
February 28, 2003
November 13, 2002
July 1, 2003
February 18, 2005
June 3, 2005
June 10, 2005
January 31, 2006
July 11, 2007
March 1, 2007
January 20, 2009
January 20, 2009
September 3, 2010
August 5, 2011
February 28, 2011
April 19, 2013
May 4, 2012
August 2, 2013
May 19, 2014

Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  369

Report to the President
on the Activities of the
Council of Economic Advisers
During 2014
The Council of Economic Advisers was established by the Employment
Act of 1946 to provide the President with objective economic analysis and
advice on the development and implementation of a wide range of domestic
and international economic policy issues. The Council is governed by a
Chairman and two Members. The Chairman is appointed by the President
and confirmed by the United States Senate. The Members are appointed by
the President.

The Chairman of the Council
Jason Furman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2013.
Prior to this role, Furman served as Assistant to the President for Economic
Policy and the Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.
From 2007 to 2008 Furman was a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies
and Director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute. Previously,
he served as a Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers, a Special
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic
Council under President Clinton and Senior Adviser to the Chief Economist
and Senior Vice President of the World Bank. Furman was the Economic
Policy Director for Obama for America. Furman has also served as Visiting
Scholar at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, a visiting
lecturer at Yale and Columbia Universities, and a Senior Fellow at the Center
on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Members of the Council
Betsey Stevenson was appointed by the President on August 6, 2013.
She is on leave from the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of
Public Policy and the Economics Department where she is an Associate

Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  371

Professor of Public Policy and Economics. She served as the Chief Economist
of the US Department of Labor from 2010 to 2011.
Maurice Obstfeld was appointed by the President on July 21, 2014. He
is on leave from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is the Class
of 1958 Professor of Economics. He joined Berkeley In 1989 as a professor,
following appointments at Columbia (1979-1986) and the University of
Pennsylvania (1986-1989).
James H. Stock resigned as Member of the Council of May 19, 2014
to return to Harvard University, where he is the Harold Hitchings Burbank
Professor of Political Economy and a member of the faculty at Harvard
Kennedy School of Government.

Areas of Activities
A central function of the Council is to advise the President on all
economic issues and developments. In the past year, as in the four previous
years, advising the President on policies to spur economic growth and job
creation, and evaluating the effects of the policies on the economy, have been
a priority.
The Council works closely with various government agencies,
including the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and
Budget, White House senior staff, and other officials and engages in discus‑
sions on numerous policy matters. In the area of international economic
policy, the Council coordinates with other units of the White House, the
Treasury Department, the State Department, the Commerce Department,
and the Federal Reserve on matters related to the global financial system.
Among the specific economic policy areas that received attention in
2014 were: college affordability and ratings; health care cost growth and the
Affordable Care Act; infrastructure investment; regulatory measures; trade
policies; poverty and income inequality; unemployment insurance and the
minimum wage; labor force participation; job training; corporate taxation;
regional development; the economic cost of carbon pollution; renewable fuel
standards; energy policy; intellectual property and innovation; and foreign
direct investment. The Council also worked on several issues related to the
quality of the data available for assessing economic conditions.
The Council prepares for the President, the Vice President, and the
White House senior staff a daily economic briefing memo analyzing current
economic developments and almost-daily memos on key economic data
releases. Chairman Furman also presents a monthly briefing on the state
of the economy and the Council’s energy analysis to senior White House
officials.
372  |  Appendix A

The Council, the Department of Treasury, and the Office of Management
and Budget—the Administration’s economic “troika”— are responsible for
producing the economic forecasts that underlie the Administration’s budget
proposals. The Council initiates the forecasting process twice each year,
consulting with a wide variety of outside sources, including leading private
sector forecasters and other government agencies.
The Council was an active participant in the trade policy process,
participating in the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy
Review Group. The Council provided analysis and opinions on a range of
trade-related issues involving the enforcement of existing trade agreements,
reviews of current U.S. trade policies, and consideration of future poli‑
cies. The Council also participated on the Trade Promotion Coordinating
Committee, helping to examine the ways in which exports may support
economic growth in the years to come. In the area of investment and secu‑
rity, the Council participated on the Committee on Foreign Investment in
the United States (CFIUS), reviewing individual cases before the committee.
The Council is a leading participant in the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), an important forum for economic
cooperation among high-income industrial economies. The Council coor‑
dinated and oversaw the OECD’s review of the U.S. economy. Chairman
Furman is chairman of the OECD’s Economic Policy Committee, and
Council Members and staff participate actively in working-party meetings
on macroeconomic policy and coordination and contribute to the OECD’s
research agenda.
The Council issued a wide range of reports in 2014 and early 2015. In
March, the Council released a report analyzing the effect of a minimum wage
increase on the gender wage gap. In May, the Council released a report exam‑
ining the economic benefits of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. In June,
the Council worked with the Domestic Policy Council to study the impact
of student loan debt and highlighted the benefits of the Administration’s
actions to make college more affordable. Also in June, the Council released
a report examining data on access to paid and unpaid leave in the workplace
and emphasizing the importance of paid and unpaid leave options. In July,
the Council released a report quantifying several consequences of States’
decisions not to expand Medicaid. Also In July, the Council released a report
examining the economic consequences of delaying implementation of poli‑
cies to stem climate change. The same month, the Council released a report
analyzing labor force participation rates since 2007, with a focus on the
effects that the Great Recession and the retirement of the baby boomers had
on labor force participation. The Council also worked with NEC on a report
to highlight the economic benefits of infrastructure investment, including
Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  373

long-term competitiveness, productivity, lower prices, and higher Incomes.
In October, the Council released a report describing the economic returns to
investments in childhood development and early education. All of the afore‑
mentioned reports can be found on the Council’s website and some of them
are incorporated into this annual report as well. (http://www.whitehouse.
gov/administration/eop/cea/factsheets-reports.)
The Council continued its efforts to improve the public’s under‑
standing of economic developments and of the Administration’s economic
policies through briefings with the economic and financial press, speeches,
discussions with outside economists, and regular updates on major data
releases and postings of CEA’s Reports on the White House and CEA blogs.
The Chairman and Members also regularly met to exchange views on the
economy with the Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve System.

Public Information
The Council’s annual Economic Report of the President is an impor‑
tant vehicle for presenting the Administration’s domestic and international
economic policies. It is available for purchase through the Government
Printing Office, and is viewable on the Internet at www.gpo.gov/erp.
The Council frequently prepared reports and blog posts in 2014, and
the Chairman and Members gave numerous public speeches. The reports,
posts and texts of speeches are available at the Council’s website, www.
whitehouse.gov/cea. Finally, the Council published the monthly Economic
Indicators, which is available online at www.gpo.gov/economicindicators.

The Staff of the Council of Economic Advisers
The staff of the Council consists of the senior staff, senior economists,
economists, staff economists, research economists, a research assistant, and
the administrative and support staff. The staff at the end of 2014 was:

Senior Staff
Jessica Schumer 	������������������������������������Chief of Staff & General Counsel
Steven N. Braun	������������������������������������Director of Macroeconomic
Forecasting
Anna Y. Lee	��������������������������������������������Director of Finance and
Administration
Jordan D. Matsudaira	����������������������������Chief Economist
Adrienne Pilot	����������������������������������������Director of Statistical Office
374  |  Appendix A

Senior Economists
Jane K. Dokko	����������������������������������������Housing
Matthew Fiedler	������������������������������������Health
Gregory Leiserson 	��������������������������������Tax, Retirement
Joshua Linn	��������������������������������������������Energy, Environment
Cynthia J. Nickerson	����������������������������Agriculture, Environment, Evaluation
Jennifer P. Poole	������������������������������������International Trade
Timothy Simcoe	������������������������������������Innovation, Technology, Industrial
Organization
Linda L. Tesar	����������������������������������������Macroeconomics
Abigail Wozniak	������������������������������������Labor, Education

Staff Economists and Policy Analysts
Martha Gimbel	��������������������������������������Labor
Timothy Hyde	����������������������������������������Macro, Labor, Energy, Environment
Noah Mann	��������������������������������������������Education
Gabriel Scheffler	������������������������������������Health, Labor
Eric Van Nostrand	��������������������������������Macroeconomics

Research Economists
Krista Ruffini 	����������������������������������������Labor

Research Assistants
Lydia Cox	������������������������������������������������Energy, Trade, Agriculture
Harris R. Eppsteiner	�����������������������������Labor, Immigration
Samuel F. Himel	������������������������������������Housing, Infrastructure, Industrial
Organization
Brian David Moore 	������������������������������Tax, Retirement
Emma Rackstraw	����������������������������������Labor, Education
Susannah Scanlan	����������������������������������Macroeconomics, International

Statistical Office
The Statistical Office gathers, administers, and produces statis‑
tical information for the Council. Duties include preparing the statistical
appendix to the Economic Report of the President and the monthly publica‑
tion Economic Indicators. The staff also creates background materials for

Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  375

economic analysis and verifies statistical content in Presidential memoranda.
The Office serves as the Council’s liaison to the statistical community.
Brian A. Amorosi 	��������������������������������Statistical Analyst
Wenfan Chen 	����������������������������������������Economic Statistician

Office of the Chairman and Members
Andrea Taverna 	������������������������������������Deputy Staff Director and Special
Assistant to the Chairman
Matthew Aks*	����������������������������������������Special Assistant to the Chairman and
Research Economist
Jeff Goldstein 	����������������������������������������Special Assistant to the Members
Katie Rodihan	����������������������������������������Special Assistant

Administrative Office
The Administrative Office provides general support for the Council’s
activities. This includes financial management, human resource manage‑
ment, travel, operations of facilities, security, information technology, and
telecommunications management support.
Doris T. Searles	��������������������������������������Administrative and Information
Management Specialist
* Matthew Aks received the Robert M. Solow Award for Distinguished
Service in 2014, after serving CEA for more than two years.

Interns
Student interns provide invaluable help with research projects, day-today operations, and fact-checking. Interns during the year were: Alexander
Abramowitz, Brian Bernard, Emma Brody, Carter Casady, Maddy Dunn,
Laura Elmendorf, Joshua Feinzig, Lauren Iannolo, Amelia Keyes, Jin Han
Kim, Paige Kirby, Audrey Lee, James Lim, Charles Matula, David Mkrtchian,
Gabrielle Orfield, Stephen Orians, Nirav Patel, Curtis Powell, Austin Rochon,
Rahul Singh, Hershil Shah, Sara Sperling, Kyle Sullivan, Benjamin Summers,
Lacoya Theus, Meiyao Tysinger, Jayson Wang, Veronica Weis, Leigh West,
and Felix Zhang.

376  |  Appendix A

Departures in 2014
The senior economists who resigned in 2014 (with the institutions to
which they returned after leaving the Council in parentheses) were: David J.
Balan (Federal Trade Commission), Marco Cagetti (Federal Reserve), Tracy
M. Gordon (Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center), Douglas Kruse (Rutgers
University), Ronald J. Shadbegian (Environmental Protection Agency), and
Kenneth A. Swinnerton (U.S. Department of Labor).
The staff economists who departed in 2014 were Zachary Y. Brown,
John Coglianese, and Kevin Rinz.
The research economists who departed in 2014 were Philip K.
Lambrakos, Cordaye T. Ogletree, and Rudy Telles Jr, and Katie Wright.
The Research Assistants who departed in 2014 were Brendan
Mochoruk, Jenny Shen, and David Wasser.
Alexander G. Krulic resigned from his position as General Counsel.
Natasha Lawrence resigned from her position as Special Assistant to the
Members.

Activities of the Council of Economic Advisers During 2014  |  377

A P P E N D I X

B

STATISTICAL TABLES RELATING
TO INCOME, EMPLOYMENT,
AND PRODUCTION

C O N T E N T S
Page

GDP, INCOME, PRICES, AND SELECTED INDICATORS
B–1.	

Percent changes in real gross domestic product, 1965–2014��������������������������������  384

B–2.	

Gross domestic product, 2000–2014������������������������������������������������������������������������  386

B–3.	

Quantity and price indexes for gross domestic product, and percent changes,
1965–2014�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  388

B–4.	

Growth rates in real gross domestic product by area and country, 1996–2015��  389

B–5.	

Real exports and imports of goods and services, 1999–2014�������������������������������  390

B–6.	

Corporate profits by industry, 1965–2014���������������������������������������������������������������  391

B–7.	

Real farm income, 1950–2014�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������  392

B–8.	

New private housing units started, authorized, and completed and houses
sold, 1970–2014����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  393

B–9.	

Median money income (in 2013 dollars) and poverty status of families and
people, by race, 2004-2013����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  394

B–10.	 Changes in consumer price indexes, 1946–2014����������������������������������������������������  395

LABOR MARKET INDICATORS
B–11.	 Civilian population and labor force, 1929–2014����������������������������������������������������  396
B–12.	 Civilian unemployment rate, 1970–2014�����������������������������������������������������������������  398
B–13.	 Unemployment by duration and reason, 1970–2014���������������������������������������������  399
B–14.	 Employees on nonagricultural payrolls, by major industry, 1970–2014�������������  400
B–15.	 Hours and earnings in private nonagricultural industries, 1970–2014 ��������������  402
B–16.	 Productivity and related data, business and nonfarm business sectors,
1965–2014�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  403

INTEREST RATES, MONEY STOCK, AND GOVERNMENT FINANCE
B–17.	 Bond yields and interest rates, 1945–2014��������������������������������������������������������������  404
B–18.	 Money stock and debt measures, 1974–2014����������������������������������������������������������  406
B–19.	 Federal receipts, outlays, surplus or deficit, and debt, fiscal years, 1948–2016��  407

Contents  | 381

INTEREST RATES, MONEY STOCK, AND GOVERNMENT FINANCE
—Continued
B–20.	 Federal receipts, outlays, surplus or deficit, and debt, as percent of gross
domestic product, fiscal years 1943–2016���������������������������������������������������������������  408
B–21.	 Federal receipts and outlays, by major category, and surplus or deficit, fiscal
years 1948–2016���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  409
B–22.	 Federal receipts, outlays, surplus or deficit, and debt, fiscal years 2011–2016���  410
B–23.	 Federal and State and local government current receipts and expenditures,
national income and product accounts (NIPA), 1965–2014��������������������������������  411
B–24.	 State and local government revenues and expenditures, fiscal years
1954–2012�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  412
B–25.	 U.S. Treasury securities outstanding by kind of obligation, 1976–2014��������������  413
B–26.	 Estimated ownership of U.S. Treasury securities, 2001–2014�������������������������������  414

382  |  Appendix B

General Notes
Detail in these tables may not add to totals due to rounding.
Because of the formula used for calculating real gross domestic product
(GDP), the chained (2009) dollar estimates for the detailed components do
not add to the chained-dollar value of GDP or to any intermediate aggregate.
The Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis) no longer
publishes chained-dollar estimates prior to 1999, except for selected series.
Because of the method used for seasonal adjustment, the sum or average of
seasonally adjusted monthly values generally will not equal annual totals
based on unadjusted values.
Unless otherwise noted, all dollar figures are in current dollars.
Symbols used:
p Preliminary.
	
	
... Not available (also, not applicable).
Data in these tables reflect revisions made by source agencies through
February 6, 2015, unless otherwise noted.
Excel versions of these tables are available at www.gpo.gov/erp.

General Notes  | 383

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators
Table B–1. Percent changes in real gross domestic product, 1965–2014
[Percent change from preceding period; quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Personal consumption
expenditures

Year or quarter

1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV p �������������

Gross
domestic
product

6.5
6.6
2.7
4.9
3.1
.2
3.3
5.2
5.6
–.5
–.2
5.4
4.6
5.6
3.2
–.2
2.6
–1.9
4.6
7.3
4.2
3.5
3.5
4.2
3.7
1.9
–.1
3.6
2.7
4.0
2.7
3.8
4.5
4.5
4.7
4.1
1.0
1.8
2.8
3.8
3.3
2.7
1.8
–.3
–2.8
2.5
1.6
2.3
2.2
2.4
–1.5
2.9
.8
4.6
2.3
1.6
2.5
.1
2.7
1.8
4.5
3.5
–2.1
4.6
5.0
2.6

Fixed investment
Nonresidential
Total

6.3
5.7
3.0
5.7
3.7
2.4
3.8
6.1
5.0
–.8
2.3
5.6
4.2
4.4
2.4
–.3
1.5
1.4
5.7
5.3
5.3
4.2
3.4
4.2
2.9
2.1
.2
3.7
3.5
3.9
3.0
3.5
3.8
5.3
5.3
5.1
2.6
2.6
3.1
3.8
3.5
3.0
2.2
–.3
–1.6
1.9
2.3
1.8
2.4
2.5
2.0
.8
1.8
1.4
2.8
1.3
1.9
1.9
3.6
1.8
2.0
3.7
1.2
2.5
3.2
4.3

See next page for continuation of table.

384  |  Appendix B

Gross private domestic investment

Goods

7.1
6.3
2.0
6.2
3.1
.8
4.2
6.5
5.2
–3.6
.7
7.0
4.3
4.1
1.6
–2.5
1.2
.7
6.4
7.2
5.3
5.6
1.8
3.7
2.5
.6
–2.0
3.2
4.2
5.3
3.0
4.5
4.8
6.7
7.9
5.2
3.0
3.9
4.8
5.1
4.1
3.6
2.7
–2.5
–3.0
3.4
3.1
2.8
3.4
3.5
2.9
–.8
.9
3.9
4.7
1.3
3.2
2.9
5.9
1.3
3.5
3.7
1.0
5.9
4.7
5.4

Services

5.5
4.9
4.1
5.3
4.4
3.9
3.5
5.8
4.7
1.9
3.8
4.3
4.1
4.6
3.1
1.6
1.7
2.0
5.2
3.9
5.3
3.2
4.5
4.5
3.2
3.0
1.6
4.0
3.1
3.1
3.0
2.9
3.2
4.6
3.9
5.0
2.4
1.9
2.2
3.2
3.2
2.7
2.0
.8
–.9
1.2
1.8
1.3
1.9
2.0
1.6
1.6
2.2
.1
1.8
1.3
1.3
1.4
2.4
2.0
1.3
3.7
1.3
.9
2.5
3.7

Total

13.8
9.0
–3.5
6.0
5.6
–6.1
10.3
11.3
10.9
–6.6
–16.2
19.1
14.3
11.6
3.5
–10.1
8.8
–13.0
9.3
27.3
–.1
.2
2.8
2.5
4.0
–2.6
–6.6
7.3
8.0
11.9
3.2
8.8
11.4
9.5
8.4
6.5
–6.1
–.6
4.1
8.8
6.4
2.1
–3.1
–9.4
–21.6
12.9
5.2
9.2
4.9
6.0
–7.2
16.4
1.1
32.1
6.9
5.8
1.6
–5.3
7.6
6.9
16.8
3.8
–6.9
19.1
7.2
7.4

Total

10.4
6.2
–.9
7.0
5.9
–2.1
6.9
11.4
8.6
–5.6
–9.8
9.8
13.6
11.6
5.8
–5.9
2.7
–6.7
7.5
16.2
5.5
1.8
.6
3.3
3.2
–1.4
–5.1
5.5
7.7
8.2
6.1
8.9
8.6
10.2
8.8
6.9
–1.6
–3.5
4.0
6.7
6.8
2.0
–2.0
–6.8
–16.7
1.5
6.3
8.3
4.7
5.2
–.9
8.2
17.3
9.9
9.1
4.4
3.1
6.6
2.7
4.9
6.6
6.3
.2
9.5
7.7
2.3

Total
16.7
12.3
–.3
4.8
7.0
–.9
.0
8.7
13.2
.8
–9.0
5.7
10.8
13.8
10.0
.0
6.1
–3.6
–.4
16.7
6.6
–1.7
.1
5.0
5.7
1.1
–3.9
2.9
7.5
7.9
9.7
9.1
10.8
10.8
9.7
9.1
–2.4
–6.9
1.9
5.2
7.0
7.1
5.9
–.7
–15.6
2.5
7.7
7.2
3.0
6.1
–.9
8.8
19.4
9.5
5.8
4.4
.8
3.6
1.5
1.6
5.5
10.4
1.6
9.7
8.9
1.9

Structures
15.9
6.8
–2.5
1.4
5.4
.3
–1.6
3.1
8.2
–2.2
–10.5
2.4
4.1
14.4
12.7
5.9
8.0
–1.6
–10.8
13.9
7.1
–11.0
–2.9
.7
2.0
1.5
–11.1
–6.0
–.3
1.8
6.4
5.7
7.3
5.1
.1
7.8
–1.5
–17.7
–3.9
–.4
1.7
7.2
12.7
6.1
–18.9
–16.4
2.3
13.1
–.5
8.0
–27.1
30.6
25.6
13.8
18.7
10.5
–1.4
–6.7
–11.5
7.3
11.2
12.8
2.9
12.6
4.8
2.6

Equipment
18.2
15.5
–1.0
6.1
8.3
–1.8
.8
12.7
18.5
2.1
–10.5
6.1
15.5
15.1
8.2
–4.4
3.7
–7.6
4.6
19.4
5.5
1.1
.4
6.6
5.3
–2.1
–4.6
5.9
12.7
12.3
12.1
9.5
11.1
13.1
12.5
9.7
–4.3
–5.4
3.2
7.7
9.6
8.6
3.2
–6.9
–22.9
15.9
13.6
6.8
4.6
6.3
12.1
4.4
27.7
9.4
3.6
1.0
.7
8.1
4.8
1.5
4.7
14.1
–1.0
11.2
11.0
–1.9

Intellectual
Property
Products
12.7
13.2
7.8
7.5
5.4
–.1
.4
7.0
5.0
2.9
.9
10.9
6.6
7.1
11.7
5.0
10.9
6.2
7.9
13.7
9.0
7.0
3.9
7.1
11.7
8.4
6.4
6.0
4.2
4.0
7.3
11.3
13.0
10.8
12.4
8.9
.5
–.5
3.8
5.1
6.5
4.5
4.8
3.0
–1.4
1.9
3.6
3.9
3.4
4.6
1.4
3.2
5.1
6.8
.7
5.1
2.6
5.1
6.5
–2.0
2.8
3.6
4.6
5.5
8.8
7.1

Residential

–2.6
–8.4
–2.6
13.5
3.1
–5.2
26.6
17.4
–.6
–19.6
–12.1
22.1
20.5
6.7
–3.7
–20.9
–8.2
–18.1
42.0
14.8
2.3
12.4
2.0
–.9
–3.2
–8.5
–8.9
13.8
8.2
9.0
–3.4
8.2
2.4
8.6
6.3
.7
.9
6.1
9.1
10.0
6.6
–7.6
–18.8
–24.0
–21.2
–2.5
.5
13.5
11.9
1.6
–.8
5.4
8.1
11.7
25.5
4.3
14.1
20.4
7.8
19.0
11.2
–8.5
–5.3
8.8
3.2
4.1

Change
in
private
inventories
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Table B–1. Percent changes in real gross domestic product, 1965–2014—Continued
[Percent change from preceding period; quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Net exports of
goods and services
Year or quarter

1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
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2012: I ������������������

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2013: I ������������������

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2014: I ������������������

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Net
exports
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Government consumption expenditures
and gross investment
Federal

Exports
2.8
6.9
2.3
7.9
4.9
10.7
1.7
7.8
18.8
7.9
–.6
4.4
2.4
10.5
9.9
10.8
1.2
–7.6
–2.6
8.2
3.3
7.7
10.9
16.2
11.6
8.8
6.6
6.9
3.3
8.8
10.3
8.2
11.9
2.3
2.6
8.6
–5.8
–1.7
1.8
9.8
6.3
9.0
9.3
5.7
–8.8
11.9
6.9
3.3
3.0
3.1
2.1
6.2
4.3
4.1
1.3
4.8
2.1
1.5
–.8
6.3
5.1
10.0
–9.2
11.1
4.5
2.8

Imports
10.6
14.9
7.3
14.9
5.7
4.3
5.3
11.3
4.6
–2.3
–11.1
19.5
10.9
8.7
1.7
–6.6
2.6
–1.3
12.6
24.3
6.5
8.5
5.9
3.9
4.4
3.6
–.1
7.0
8.6
11.9
8.0
8.7
13.5
11.7
10.1
13.0
–2.8
3.7
4.5
11.4
6.3
6.3
2.5
–2.6
–13.7
12.7
5.5
2.3
1.1
3.9
3.1
3.0
3.3
4.5
1.7
4.0
–.6
–3.5
–.3
8.5
.6
1.3
2.2
11.3
–.9
8.9

Total
3.2
8.7
7.9
3.4
.2
–2.0
–1.8
–.5
–.3
2.3
2.2
.5
1.2
2.9
1.9
1.9
1.0
1.8
3.8
3.6
6.8
5.4
3.0
1.3
2.9
3.2
1.2
.5
–.8
.1
.5
1.0
1.9
2.1
3.4
1.9
3.8
4.4
2.2
1.6
.6
1.5
1.6
2.8
3.2
.1
–3.0
–1.4
–2.0
–.2
–7.5
–.4
–2.5
–1.6
–2.7
–.4
2.7
–6.0
–3.9
.2
.2
–3.8
–.8
1.7
4.4
–2.2

Total
0.8
10.7
10.1
1.5
–2.4
–6.1
–6.4
–3.1
–3.6
.7
.5
.2
2.2
2.5
2.3
4.4
4.5
3.7
6.5
3.3
7.9
5.9
3.8
–1.3
1.7
2.1
.0
–1.5
–3.5
–3.5
–2.6
–1.2
–.8
–.9
2.0
.3
3.9
7.2
6.8
4.5
1.7
2.5
1.7
6.8
5.7
4.4
–2.7
–1.8
–5.7
–1.9
–10.6
1.6
–4.0
–2.6
–3.0
–.9
7.5
–13.0
–9.9
–3.5
–1.2
–10.4
–.1
–.9
9.9
–7.5

National
defense

Nondefense

–1.3
12.9
12.5
1.6
–4.1
–8.2
–10.2
–6.9
–5.1
–1.0
–1.0
–.5
1.0
.8
2.7
3.9
6.2
7.2
7.3
5.2
8.8
6.9
5.1
–.2
–.2
.3
–1.0
–4.5
–5.1
–4.9
–4.0
–1.6
–2.7
–2.1
1.5
–.9
3.5
7.0
8.5
6.0
2.0
2.0
2.5
7.5
5.4
3.2
–2.3
–3.3
–6.6
–2.2
–14.0
6.7
1.9
–9.5
–7.4
–1.3
11.9
–20.1
–10.9
–2.1
.4
–11.4
–4.0
.9
16.0
–12.5

State
and
local

7.9
3.6
1.9
1.3
3.9
1.0
5.6
7.2
.2
4.6
3.9
1.6
4.7
6.0
1.7
5.4
1.0
–3.6
4.7
–1.4
5.7
3.1
.2
–4.3
7.2
7.3
2.4
5.9
.0
–.8
.0
–.5
2.8
1.3
2.7
2.3
4.7
7.4
4.1
2.0
1.3
3.5
.3
5.5
6.2
6.4
–3.4
1.0
–4.1
–1.5
–4.3
–6.9
–14.0
11.4
5.3
–.4
.4
.6
–8.2
–5.8
–3.9
–8.6
6.6
–3.8
.4
1.7

6.6
6.2
5.0
6.0
3.5
2.9
3.1
2.2
2.8
3.7
3.6
.8
.4
3.3
1.5
–.2
–2.0
.1
1.3
3.8
5.7
5.0
2.2
3.9
4.0
4.1
2.2
2.1
1.2
2.8
2.7
2.4
3.6
3.8
4.2
2.8
3.7
2.9
–.4
–.1
.0
.9
1.5
.3
1.6
–2.7
–3.3
–1.2
.5
.9
–5.3
–1.8
–1.4
–.8
–2.6
.0
–.6
–.8
.3
2.7
1.1
.6
–1.3
3.4
1.1
1.3

Final
Gross
Gross
Gross
sales of domestic domestic national
domestic
pur2 product 3
1 income
product chases
5.9
6.1
3.3
5.1
3.2
.9
2.7
5.2
5.2
–.3
1.0
4.0
4.4
5.5
3.6
.6
1.5
–.6
4.3
5.4
5.4
3.8
3.1
4.4
3.5
2.1
.2
3.3
2.7
3.4
3.2
3.8
4.0
4.5
4.7
4.2
1.9
1.3
2.8
3.4
3.4
2.6
2.0
.2
–2.0
1.1
1.7
2.2
2.2
2.3
–.6
1.9
3.0
1.8
2.5
1.4
2.7
1.9
2.0
1.5
3.0
3.9
–1.0
3.2
5.0
1.8

6.9
6.4
6.5
6.9
6.0
6.5
3.0
3.0
2.7
5.2
5.0
4.9
3.2
3.3
3.1
–.1
–.1
.2
3.5
3.0
3.3
5.4
5.5
5.3
4.8
5.8
5.9
–1.2
–.6
–.4
–1.1
–.5
–.4
6.5
5.1
5.5
5.3
4.8
4.7
5.5
5.5
5.5
2.5
2.4
3.5
–1.9
–.1
–.3
2.7
3.0
2.4
–1.3
–1.0
–1.8
5.9
3.3
4.5
8.7
7.8
7.1
4.5
4.0
3.9
3.7
3.0
3.3
3.2
4.3
3.4
3.3
5.1
4.3
3.1
2.5
3.7
1.5
1.5
2.0
–.7
.0
–.2
3.6
3.3
3.5
3.3
2.2
2.7
4.4
4.4
3.9
2.6
3.4
2.8
3.9
4.3
3.8
4.7
5.1
4.4
5.5
5.3
4.4
5.5
4.4
4.8
4.8
4.7
4.2
1.2
1.1
1.1
2.3
1.4
1.7
3.1
2.3
2.9
4.3
3.7
3.9
3.5
3.6
3.3
2.6
4.0
2.4
1.1
.1
2.2
–1.3
–.8
.0
–3.8
–2.6
–2.9
2.9
2.7
2.8
1.6
2.2
1.8
2.2
3.4
2.1
1.9
2.2
2.2
2.6 ��������������� ����������������
–1.2
.5
–1.2
2.5
1.9
2.9
.8
2.6
1.4
4.6
3.3
4.9
2.3
7.2
1.3
1.6
.6
1.4
2.0
1.3
2.1
–.7
4.2
.3
2.7
1.4
2.3
2.2
2.7
1.9
3.8
1.9
4.8
2.3
1.8
3.7
–.4
–.8
–2.8
4.8
4.0
4.6
4.1
4.7
5.3
3.6 ��������������� ����������������

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) less exports of goods and services plus imports of goods and services.
2 Gross domestic income is deflated by the implicit price deflator for GDP.
3 GDP plus net income receipts from rest of the world.

Note: Percent changes based on unrounded GDP quantity indexes.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 385

Table B–2. Gross domestic product, 2000–2014
[Quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Personal consumption
expenditures

Year or quarter

Gross
domestic
product

Gross private domestic investment
Fixed investment
Nonresidential

Total

Goods

Services

Total

Total

Total

Structures

Equipment

Intellectual
Property
Products

Residential

Change
in
private
inventories

Billions of dollars
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV p �������������

10,284.8
10,621.8
10,977.5
11,510.7
12,274.9
13,093.7
13,855.9
14,477.6
14,718.6
14,418.7
14,964.4
15,517.9
16,163.2
16,768.1
17,420.7
15,238.4
15,460.9
15,587.1
15,785.3
15,956.5
16,094.7
16,268.9
16,332.5
16,502.4
16,619.2
16,872.3
17,078.3
17,044.0
17,328.2
17,599.8
17,710.7

6,792.4
7,103.1
7,384.1
7,765.5
8,260.0
8,794.1
9,304.0
9,750.5
10,013.6
9,847.0
10,202.2
10,689.3
11,083.1
11,484.3
11,928.4
10,523.5
10,651.4
10,754.5
10,827.9
10,959.7
11,030.6
11,119.8
11,222.6
11,351.1
11,414.3
11,518.7
11,653.3
11,728.5
11,870.7
12,002.0
12,112.3

2,452.9
2,525.2
2,598.6
2,721.6
2,900.3
3,080.3
3,235.8
3,361.6
3,375.7
3,198.4
3,362.8
3,596.5
3,741.9
3,851.2
3,969.0
3,534.0
3,588.0
3,613.0
3,650.9
3,709.6
3,717.2
3,751.9
3,788.8
3,832.2
3,821.0
3,865.3
3,886.1
3,890.6
3,964.5
4,011.5
4,009.4

4,339.5
4,577.9
4,785.5
5,044.0
5,359.8
5,713.8
6,068.2
6,388.9
6,637.9
6,648.5
6,839.4
7,092.8
7,341.3
7,633.2
7,959.3
6,989.6
7,063.4
7,141.4
7,177.0
7,250.1
7,313.3
7,367.9
7,433.8
7,518.9
7,593.2
7,653.4
7,767.2
7,837.8
7,906.2
7,990.4
8,102.9

2,033.8
1,928.6
1,925.0
2,027.9
2,276.7
2,527.1
2,680.6
2,643.7
2,424.8
1,878.1
2,100.8
2,239.9
2,479.2
2,648.0
2,855.8
2,123.5
2,212.7
2,228.2
2,395.2
2,445.4
2,489.3
2,500.4
2,481.5
2,543.3
2,594.6
2,708.9
2,745.2
2,714.4
2,843.6
2,905.1
2,960.2

1,979.2
1,966.9
1,906.5
2,008.7
2,212.8
2,467.5
2,613.7
2,609.3
2,456.8
2,025.7
2,039.3
2,198.1
2,414.3
2,573.9
2,765.4
2,097.2
2,149.6
2,243.1
2,302.5
2,364.3
2,397.1
2,424.7
2,471.0
2,499.1
2,543.8
2,598.1
2,654.6
2,674.3
2,743.4
2,810.6
2,833.3

1,493.8
1,453.9
1,348.9
1,371.7
1,463.1
1,611.5
1,776.3
1,920.6
1,941.0
1,633.4
1,658.2
1,812.1
1,972.0
2,054.0
2,206.4
1,722.4
1,768.5
1,854.5
1,902.9
1,942.0
1,968.8
1,978.3
1,998.7
2,010.3
2,026.9
2,060.2
2,118.7
2,134.6
2,191.2
2,244.3
2,255.7

318.1
329.7
282.9
281.8
301.8
345.6
415.6
496.9
552.4
438.2
362.0
381.6
446.9
457.2
506.1
343.2
371.3
397.1
415.0
437.0
452.5
452.2
445.9
435.4
448.5
463.0
481.7
487.9
504.4
513.3
518.8

766.1
711.5
659.6
669.0
719.2
790.7
856.1
885.8
825.1
644.3
731.8
838.2
904.1
949.7
1,015.6
798.3
809.7
861.7
883.3
894.9
897.1
901.4
922.8
933.1
937.0
948.8
980.0
979.5
1,008.6
1,038.2
1,036.1

409.5
412.6
406.4
420.9
442.1
475.1
504.6
537.9
563.4
550.9
564.3
592.2
621.0
647.1
684.7
580.9
587.5
595.7
604.6
610.1
619.2
624.7
630.0
641.8
641.4
648.4
657.0
667.2
678.2
692.7
700.8

485.4
513.0
557.6
636.9
749.7
856.1
837.4
688.7
515.9
392.2
381.1
386.0
442.3
519.9
559.0
374.8
381.1
388.6
399.6
422.3
428.3
446.4
472.3
488.9
516.9
538.0
535.9
539.7
552.2
566.4
577.6

54.5
–38.3
18.5
19.3
63.9
59.6
67.0
34.5
–32.0
–147.6
61.5
41.8
64.9
74.1
90.4
26.3
63.0
–14.9
92.6
81.1
92.2
75.7
10.4
44.2
50.8
110.7
90.5
40.1
100.3
94.5
126.9

533.5
525.4
432.5
415.8
414.1
421.2
451.5
509.0
540.2
438.2
366.3
374.7
423.8
421.7
455.3
343.0
366.7
388.2
400.9
418.5
429.0
427.5
420.1
407.5
414.7
425.8
438.8
441.9
455.2
460.6
463.6

726.9
695.7
658.0
679.0
731.2
801.6
870.8
898.3
836.1
644.3
746.7
847.9
905.6
947.2
1,006.6
810.6
819.3
871.0
890.8
898.7
900.9
902.5
920.4
931.3
934.8
945.6
977.2
974.8
1,001.1
1,027.6
1,022.8

426.1
428.0
425.9
442.2
464.9
495.0
517.5
542.4
558.8
550.9
561.3
581.3
603.7
624.1
653.0
571.9
576.3
583.5
593.3
594.4
601.8
605.6
613.2
622.8
619.8
624.1
629.6
636.8
645.4
659.2
670.7

637.9
643.7
682.7
744.5
818.9
872.6
806.6
654.8
497.7
392.2
382.4
384.5
436.5
488.4
496.3
374.4
379.3
386.8
397.6
420.8
425.3
439.5
460.3
469.0
489.8
503.0
491.9
485.3
495.6
499.6
504.6

66.2
–46.2
22.5
22.6
71.4
64.3
71.6
35.5
–33.7
–147.6
58.2
37.6
57.0
63.5
78.8
25.1
57.5
–13.0
80.8
70.9
78.9
71.2
7.2
33.4
43.4
95.6
81.8
35.2
84.8
82.2
113.1

Billions of chained (2009) dollars
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV p �������������

12,559.7
12,682.2
12,908.8
13,271.1
13,773.5
14,234.2
14,613.8
14,873.7
14,830.4
14,418.7
14,783.8
15,020.6
15,369.2
15,710.3
16,089.8
14,881.3
14,989.6
15,021.1
15,190.3
15,275.0
15,336.7
15,431.3
15,433.7
15,538.4
15,606.6
15,779.9
15,916.2
15,831.7
16,010.4
16,205.6
16,311.6

8,170.7
8,382.6
8,598.8
8,867.6
9,208.2
9,531.8
9,821.7
10,041.6
10,007.2
9,847.0
10,036.3
10,263.5
10,449.7
10,699.7
10,967.8
10,217.1
10,237.7
10,282.2
10,316.8
10,387.6
10,420.2
10,470.4
10,520.6
10,613.7
10,660.4
10,713.3
10,811.4
10,844.3
10,912.6
10,999.5
11,114.9

See next page for continuation of table.

386  |  Appendix B

2,588.3
2,666.6
2,770.2
2,904.5
3,051.9
3,177.2
3,292.5
3,381.8
3,297.8
3,198.4
3,308.7
3,411.8
3,506.5
3,626.0
3,752.2
3,404.9
3,398.2
3,405.5
3,438.5
3,478.0
3,489.0
3,516.9
3,542.3
3,593.7
3,605.2
3,636.1
3,669.0
3,678.3
3,731.6
3,774.5
3,824.3

5,599.3
5,731.0
5,838.2
5,966.9
6,156.6
6,353.4
6,526.6
6,656.4
6,708.6
6,648.5
6,727.6
6,851.4
6,942.4
7,073.1
7,216.1
6,812.0
6,839.2
6,876.6
6,877.7
6,908.8
6,930.5
6,952.8
6,977.5
7,019.3
7,054.5
7,076.6
7,141.9
7,165.4
7,181.4
7,225.9
7,292.0

2,375.5
2,231.4
2,218.2
2,308.7
2,511.3
2,672.6
2,730.0
2,644.1
2,396.0
1,878.1
2,120.4
2,230.4
2,435.9
2,556.2
2,710.7
2,125.9
2,208.0
2,214.0
2,373.7
2,413.7
2,448.0
2,457.7
2,424.3
2,469.0
2,510.7
2,610.3
2,634.7
2,588.2
2,703.7
2,750.8
2,800.2

2,316.2
2,280.0
2,201.1
2,289.5
2,443.9
2,611.0
2,662.5
2,609.6
2,432.6
2,025.7
2,056.2
2,186.7
2,368.0
2,479.2
2,608.1
2,098.4
2,140.2
2,227.5
2,280.6
2,330.7
2,355.6
2,373.7
2,412.0
2,428.0
2,457.0
2,496.8
2,535.0
2,536.1
2,594.5
2,643.3
2,658.5

1,647.7
1,608.4
1,498.0
1,526.1
1,605.4
1,717.4
1,839.6
1,948.4
1,934.4
1,633.4
1,673.8
1,802.3
1,931.8
1,990.6
2,112.7
1,724.1
1,761.0
1,840.8
1,883.1
1,910.1
1,930.6
1,934.5
1,951.9
1,959.0
1,966.8
1,993.3
2,043.3
2,051.5
2,099.6
2,144.8
2,154.8

Table B–2. Gross domestic product, 2000–2014—Continued
[Quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Net exports of
goods and services
Year or quarter

Government consumption expenditures
and gross investment
Federal

Net
exports

Exports

Imports

Total

Total

National
defense

Nondefense

State
and
local

Final
Gross
Gross
Gross
sales of domestic domestic national
domestic
pur2 product 3
1 income
product chases

Billions of dollars
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV p �������������

–375.8
–368.7
–426.5
–503.7
–619.2
–721.2
–770.9
–718.5
–723.1
–395.4
–512.7
–580.0
–568.3
–508.2
–538.0
–562.5
–586.9
–572.4
–598.1
–614.8
–588.5
–541.7
–528.2
–528.0
–532.0
–509.9
–462.9
–538.0
–549.2
–516.5
–548.5

1,096.8
1,026.7
1,002.5
1,040.3
1,181.5
1,308.9
1,476.3
1,664.6
1,841.9
1,587.7
1,852.3
2,106.4
2,194.2
2,262.2
2,334.2
2,033.3
2,108.3
2,142.9
2,141.0
2,162.4
2,192.5
2,203.2
2,218.5
2,219.4
2,236.4
2,268.4
2,324.6
2,284.7
2,344.3
2,366.5
2,341.3

1,472.6
1,395.4
1,429.0
1,543.9
1,800.7
2,030.1
2,247.3
2,383.2
2,565.0
1,983.2
2,365.0
2,686.4
2,762.5
2,770.4
2,872.3
2,595.8
2,695.3
2,715.3
2,739.1
2,777.1
2,781.1
2,745.0
2,746.7
2,747.4
2,768.4
2,778.3
2,787.5
2,822.7
2,893.5
2,883.0
2,889.8

1,834.4
1,958.8
2,094.9
2,220.8
2,357.4
2,493.7
2,642.2
2,801.9
3,003.2
3,089.1
3,174.0
3,168.7
3,169.2
3,143.9
3,174.5
3,153.8
3,183.8
3,176.8
3,160.4
3,166.2
3,163.3
3,190.5
3,156.6
3,135.9
3,142.4
3,154.7
3,142.7
3,139.1
3,163.1
3,209.3
3,186.7

632.4
669.2
740.6
824.8
892.4
946.3
1,002.0
1,049.8
1,155.6
1,217.7
1,303.9
1,303.5
1,291.4
1,231.5
1,219.0
1,298.1
1,314.9
1,305.9
1,294.9
1,291.4
1,290.0
1,314.3
1,269.9
1,241.9
1,234.1
1,233.9
1,216.2
1,208.1
1,210.5
1,241.3
1,216.2

391.7
412.7
456.8
519.9
570.2
608.3
642.4
678.7
754.1
788.3
832.8
836.9
818.0
769.9
761.4
823.4
844.9
851.5
828.0
818.6
817.1
840.9
795.4
775.1
772.2
774.9
757.5
749.9
754.6
784.0
757.0

240.7
256.5
283.8
304.9
322.1
338.1
359.6
371.0
401.5
429.4
471.1
466.5
473.4
461.6
457.6
474.7
470.0
454.5
466.9
472.8
472.9
473.4
474.4
466.8
461.9
459.0
458.7
458.2
455.9
457.3
459.2

1,202.0
1,289.5
1,354.3
1,396.0
1,465.0
1,547.4
1,640.2
1,752.2
1,847.6
1,871.4
1,870.2
1,865.3
1,877.8
1,912.4
1,955.5
1,855.8
1,869.0
1,870.9
1,865.5
1,874.8
1,873.3
1,876.2
1,886.8
1,894.0
1,908.3
1,920.7
1,926.5
1,931.0
1,952.6
1,968.0
1,970.5

10,230.2
10,660.1
10,959.0
11,491.4
12,211.1
13,034.1
13,788.9
14,443.2
14,750.6
14,566.3
14,902.8
15,476.2
16,098.3
16,694.0
17,330.3
15,212.1
15,397.9
15,602.0
15,692.7
15,875.4
16,002.5
16,193.2
16,322.1
16,458.2
16,568.4
16,761.6
16,987.8
17,003.9
17,228.0
17,505.3
17,583.8

10,660.6
10,990.5
11,404.0
12,014.3
12,894.1
13,814.9
14,626.8
15,196.2
15,441.6
14,814.2
15,477.0
16,097.9
16,731.5
17,276.2
17,958.7
15,800.8
16,047.9
16,159.5
16,383.5
16,571.3
16,683.2
16,810.7
16,860.7
17,030.4
17,151.2
17,382.2
17,541.2
17,582.0
17,877.5
18,116.3
18,259.2

10,384.3 10,321.8
10,736.8 10,673.6
11,050.3 11,026.1
11,524.3 11,577.8
12,283.5 12,364.1
13,129.2 13,186.3
14,073.2 13,923.5
14,460.1 14,603.2
14,619.2 14,890.6
14,343.4 14,569.8
14,915.2 15,170.3
15,556.3 15,764.6
16,372.3 16,390.5
16,980.0 16,992.4
�������������� ����������������
15,282.5 15,466.5
15,467.7 15,692.0
15,661.8 15,842.6
15,813.1 16,057.1
16,175.6 16,195.0
16,276.3 16,325.0
16,403.5 16,484.0
16,633.8 16,558.0
16,752.7 16,711.2
16,909.3 16,834.0
17,060.0 17,103.1
17,197.8 17,321.2
17,221.5 17,255.0
17,481.7 17,541.7
17,743.5 17,829.6
�������������� ����������������

12,494.9
12,729.6
12,888.9
13,249.0
13,702.2
14,168.8
14,542.3
14,836.2
14,865.7
14,566.3
14,722.2
14,979.0
15,304.3
15,636.7
15,991.7
14,855.3
14,924.5
15,035.1
15,101.0
15,195.6
15,248.2
15,350.9
15,422.6
15,499.6
15,555.5
15,671.0
15,820.7
15,782.6
15,905.9
16,102.8
16,175.6

13,057.9
13,208.5
13,518.4
13,938.5
14,531.7
15,040.3
15,431.6
15,606.8
15,399.9
14,814.2
15,244.9
15,483.9
15,824.6
16,131.0
16,544.1
15,351.6
15,448.3
15,479.5
15,656.1
15,744.7
15,807.6
15,887.2
15,859.0
15,966.0
16,054.5
16,205.0
16,298.6
16,280.4
16,473.2
16,637.7
16,785.1

12,681.2 12,608.8
12,819.5 12,747.9
12,994.4 12,969.8
13,286.8 13,352.1
13,783.1 13,877.3
14,272.7 14,338.4
14,842.9 14,688.6
14,855.8 15,005.7
14,730.2 15,004.8
14,343.4 14,569.8
14,735.2 14,970.8
15,057.7 15,241.0
15,568.1 15,567.3
15,908.8 15,902.4
�������������� ����������������
14,924.4 15,086.5
14,996.1 15,195.1
15,093.1 15,249.1
15,217.0 15,433.2
15,484.9 15,484.6
15,509.8 15,538.1
15,559.0 15,617.5
15,718.4 15,629.1
15,774.1 15,717.2
15,879.1 15,790.6
15,955.4 15,977.6
16,027.6 16,124.3
15,996.4 16,009.8
16,152.2 16,189.8
16,337.9 16,399.3
�������������� ����������������

Billions of chained (2009) dollars
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
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–477.8
–502.1
–584.3
–641.9
–734.8
–782.3
–794.3
–712.6
–557.8
–395.4
–458.8
–459.4
–452.5
–420.4
–452.6
–466.2
–455.2
–454.3
–461.7
–465.7
–466.7
–453.0
–424.5
–427.2
–446.0
–424.6
–384.0
–447.2
–460.4
–431.4
–471.5

1,258.4
1,184.9
1,164.5
1,185.0
1,300.6
1,381.9
1,506.8
1,646.4
1,740.8
1,587.7
1,776.6
1,898.3
1,960.1
2,019.8
2,082.5
1,862.3
1,890.7
1,910.6
1,929.7
1,936.0
1,958.9
1,969.1
1,976.5
1,972.3
2,002.8
2,027.7
2,076.5
2,026.9
2,080.7
2,104.0
2,118.4

1,736.2
1,687.0
1,748.8
1,826.9
2,035.3
2,164.2
2,301.0
2,359.0
2,298.6
1,983.2
2,235.4
2,357.7
2,412.6
2,440.3
2,535.1
2,328.5
2,345.9
2,364.9
2,391.3
2,401.7
2,425.5
2,422.1
2,401.0
2,399.5
2,448.8
2,452.3
2,460.5
2,474.1
2,541.1
2,535.3
2,589.9

2,498.2
2,592.4
2,705.8
2,764.3
2,808.2
2,826.2
2,869.3
2,914.4
2,994.8
3,089.1
3,091.4
2,997.4
2,953.9
2,894.5
2,889.3
3,012.2
3,009.0
2,990.0
2,978.3
2,957.8
2,954.9
2,974.4
2,928.7
2,899.8
2,901.2
2,902.4
2,874.5
2,868.5
2,880.6
2,911.9
2,896.0

817.7
849.8
910.8
973.0
1,017.1
1,034.8
1,060.9
1,078.7
1,152.3
1,217.7
1,270.7
1,236.4
1,214.4
1,145.3
1,123.4
1,241.2
1,246.0
1,233.3
1,225.2
1,216.0
1,213.1
1,235.4
1,193.0
1,162.5
1,152.2
1,148.7
1,117.8
1,117.4
1,114.9
1,141.6
1,119.7

512.3
530.0
567.3
615.4
652.7
665.5
678.8
695.6
748.1
788.3
813.5
795.0
768.7
717.7
702.2
788.4
801.3
805.1
785.3
770.4
767.9
789.8
746.7
725.5
721.8
722.6
701.0
693.9
695.4
721.7
697.9

305.4
319.7
343.3
357.5
364.5
369.4
382.1
383.1
404.2
429.4
457.1
441.4
445.7
427.5
421.0
452.7
444.7
428.2
439.9
445.6
445.2
445.6
446.3
436.9
430.4
426.1
416.7
423.4
419.4
419.8
421.6

1,689.1
1,751.5
1,802.4
1,795.3
1,792.8
1,792.3
1,808.8
1,836.1
1,842.4
1,871.4
1,820.8
1,761.0
1,739.5
1,748.4
1,764.9
1,771.1
1,763.0
1,756.8
1,753.1
1,741.7
1,741.7
1,739.2
1,735.5
1,736.8
1,748.3
1,753.0
1,755.7
1,750.2
1,764.7
1,769.5
1,775.2

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) less exports of goods and services plus imports of goods and services.
2 For chained dollar measures, gross domestic income is deflated by the implicit price deflator for GDP.
3 GDP plus net income receipts from rest of the world.

Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 387

Table B–3. Quantity and price indexes for gross domestic product, and percent changes,
1965–2014
[Quarterly data are seasonally adjusted]

Percent change from preceding period 1

Index numbers, 2009=100
Gross domestic product (GDP)
Year or quarter

1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
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2013: I ������������������

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2014: I ������������������

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      IV p �������������

Personal consumption expenditures
(PCE)

Real GDP
(chaintype
quantity
index)

GDP
chaintype
price
index

GDP
implicit
price
deflator

PCE
chaintype
price
index

27.580
29.399
30.205
31.688
32.683
32.749
33.833
35.609
37.618
37.424
37.350
39.361
41.175
43.466
44.846
44.736
45.897
45.020
47.105
50.525
52.666
54.516
56.403
58.774
60.937
62.107
62.061
64.267
66.032
68.698
70.566
73.245
76.531
79.937
83.682
87.107
87.957
89.528
92.041
95.525
98.720
101.353
103.156
102.855
100.000
102.532
104.174
106.592
108.957
111.590
103.208
103.959
104.178
105.351
105.939
106.367
107.023
107.039
107.766
108.238
109.440
110.386
109.799
111.039
112.393
113.128

18.744
19.271
19.831
20.674
21.691
22.836
23.996
25.035
26.396
28.760
31.431
33.157
35.209
37.680
40.790
44.480
48.658
51.624
53.658
55.564
57.341
58.504
59.935
62.036
64.448
66.841
69.057
70.632
72.315
73.851
75.393
76.767
78.088
78.935
80.065
81.890
83.755
85.040
86.735
89.118
91.985
94.812
97.340
99.218
100.000
101.226
103.315
105.174
106.739
108.309
102.409
103.170
103.770
103.913
104.461
104.937
105.475
105.821
106.172
106.495
106.943
107.347
107.694
108.261
108.643
108.638

18.702
19.227
19.786
20.627
21.642
22.784
23.941
24.978
26.337
28.703
31.361
33.083
35.135
37.602
40.706
44.377
48.520
51.530
53.565
55.466
57.240
58.395
59.885
61.982
64.392
66.773
68.996
70.569
72.248
73.785
75.324
76.699
78.012
78.859
80.065
81.887
83.754
85.039
86.735
89.120
91.988
94.814
97.337
99.246
100.000
101.221
103.311
105.166
106.733
108.272
102.399
103.145
103.768
103.917
104.461
104.942
105.428
105.824
106.204
106.488
106.923
107.301
107.658
108.231
108.603
108.578

18.681
19.155
19.637
20.402
21.326
22.325
23.274
24.070
25.368
28.009
30.348
32.013
34.091
36.479
39.714
43.978
47.908
50.553
52.729
54.724
56.661
57.887
59.650
61.974
64.641
67.440
69.652
71.494
73.279
74.803
76.356
77.981
79.327
79.936
81.110
83.131
84.736
85.873
87.572
89.703
92.261
94.729
97.102
100.065
100.000
101.653
104.149
106.062
107.333
108.757
103.002
104.043
104.595
104.956
105.510
105.860
106.204
106.675
106.951
107.074
107.520
107.789
108.156
108.782
109.116
108.975

1 Quarterly percent changes are at annual rates.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

388  |  Appendix B

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Gross
domestic
PCE
purchases Real GDP
less
price
(chainfood and
index
type
energy
quantity
price
index)
index
19.325
19.762
20.367
21.240
22.238
23.281
24.377
25.165
26.126
28.196
30.558
32.415
34.495
36.802
39.479
43.093
46.857
49.881
52.466
54.645
56.898
58.850
60.719
63.290
65.869
68.492
70.886
73.021
75.008
76.680
78.324
79.801
81.196
82.200
83.291
84.747
86.281
87.750
89.047
90.751
92.711
94.786
96.832
98.827
100.000
101.286
102.800
104.678
106.084
107.575
101.974
102.593
103.110
103.522
104.063
104.546
104.871
105.230
105.606
105.875
106.252
106.603
106.922
107.447
107.821
108.111

18.321
18.830
19.346
20.164
21.149
22.287
23.450
24.498
25.888
28.511
31.116
32.821
34.977
37.459
40.730
44.963
49.088
51.876
53.697
55.483
57.151
58.345
59.985
62.092
64.516
67.040
69.112
70.720
72.324
73.835
75.421
76.729
77.852
78.359
79.579
81.644
83.209
84.360
86.196
88.729
91.851
94.783
97.372
100.244
100.000
101.527
103.970
105.738
107.105
108.587
102.936
103.906
104.395
104.641
105.249
105.533
105.858
106.313
106.634
106.837
107.284
107.667
108.030
108.553
108.925
108.840

6.5
6.6
2.7
4.9
3.1
.2
3.3
5.2
5.6
–.5
–.2
5.4
4.6
5.6
3.2
–.2
2.6
–1.9
4.6
7.3
4.2
3.5
3.5
4.2
3.7
1.9
–.1
3.6
2.7
4.0
2.7
3.8
4.5
4.5
4.7
4.1
1.0
1.8
2.8
3.8
3.3
2.7
1.8
–.3
–2.8
2.5
1.6
2.3
2.2
2.4
–1.5
2.9
.8
4.6
2.3
1.6
2.5
.1
2.7
1.8
4.5
3.5
–2.1
4.6
5.0
2.6

GDP
chaintype
price
index
1.8
2.8
2.9
4.3
4.9
5.3
5.1
4.3
5.4
9.0
9.3
5.5
6.2
7.0
8.3
9.0
9.4
6.1
3.9
3.6
3.2
2.0
2.4
3.5
3.9
3.7
3.3
2.3
2.4
2.1
2.1
1.8
1.7
1.1
1.4
2.3
2.3
1.5
2.0
2.7
3.2
3.1
2.7
1.9
.8
1.2
2.1
1.8
1.5
1.5
1.8
3.0
2.3
.6
2.1
1.8
2.1
1.3
1.3
1.2
1.7
1.5
1.3
2.1
1.4
.0

GDP
implicit
price
deflator
1.8
2.8
2.9
4.3
4.9
5.3
5.1
4.3
5.4
9.0
9.3
5.5
6.2
7.0
8.3
9.0
9.3
6.2
3.9
3.5
3.2
2.0
2.6
3.5
3.9
3.7
3.3
2.3
2.4
2.1
2.1
1.8
1.7
1.1
1.5
2.3
2.3
1.5
2.0
2.7
3.2
3.1
2.7
2.0
.8
1.2
2.1
1.8
1.5
1.4
1.8
2.9
2.4
.6
2.1
1.9
1.9
1.5
1.4
1.1
1.6
1.4
1.3
2.1
1.4
–.1

Personal consumption expenditures
(PCE)
PCE
chaintype
price
index
1.4
2.5
2.5
3.9
4.5
4.7
4.3
3.4
5.4
10.4
8.4
5.5
6.5
7.0
8.9
10.7
8.9
5.5
4.3
3.8
3.5
2.2
3.0
3.9
4.3
4.3
3.3
2.6
2.5
2.1
2.1
2.1
1.7
.8
1.5
2.5
1.9
1.3
2.0
2.4
2.9
2.7
2.5
3.1
–.1
1.7
2.5
1.8
1.2
1.3
3.0
4.1
2.1
1.4
2.1
1.3
1.3
1.8
1.0
.5
1.7
1.0
1.4
2.3
1.2
–.5

Gross
domestic
PCE
purchases
less
price
food and
index
energy
price
index
1.3
2.3
3.1
4.3
4.7
4.7
4.7
3.2
3.8
7.9
8.4
6.1
6.4
6.7
7.3
9.2
8.7
6.5
5.2
4.2
4.1
3.4
3.2
4.2
4.1
4.0
3.5
3.0
2.7
2.2
2.1
1.9
1.7
1.2
1.3
1.7
1.8
1.7
1.5
1.9
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.1
1.2
1.3
1.5
1.8
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.5
2.0
1.6
2.1
1.9
1.2
1.4
1.4
1.0
1.4
1.3
1.2
2.0
1.4
1.1

1.7
2.8
2.7
4.2
4.9
5.4
5.2
4.5
5.7
10.1
9.1
5.5
6.6
7.1
8.7
10.4
9.2
5.7
3.5
3.3
3.0
2.1
2.8
3.5
3.9
3.9
3.1
2.3
2.3
2.1
2.1
1.7
1.5
.7
1.6
2.6
1.9
1.4
2.2
2.9
3.5
3.2
2.7
2.9
–.2
1.5
2.4
1.7
1.3
1.4
3.0
3.8
1.9
.9
2.3
1.1
1.2
1.7
1.2
.8
1.7
1.4
1.4
2.0
1.4
–.3

Table B–4. Growth rates in real gross domestic product by area and country, 1996–2015
[Percent change]

Area and country

World ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������
Advanced economies ������������������������������������������������������������
Of which:
United States ������������������������������������������������������������������
Euro area 2 ����������������������������������������������������������������������
Germany �������������������������������������������������������������������
France �����������������������������������������������������������������������
Italy ���������������������������������������������������������������������������
Spain �������������������������������������������������������������������������
Japan ������������������������������������������������������������������������������
United Kingdom ��������������������������������������������������������������
Canada ����������������������������������������������������������������������������
Other advanced economies ��������������������������������������������
Emerging market and developing economies �����������������������
Regional groups:
Commonwealth of Independent States 3 �����������������������
Russia �����������������������������������������������������������������������
Excluding Russia �������������������������������������������������������
Emerging and Developing Asia ��������������������������������������
China �������������������������������������������������������������������������
India 4 ������������������������������������������������������������������������
ASEAN-5 5 ����������������������������������������������������������������
Emerging and Developing Europe ����������������������������������
Latin America and the Caribbean �����������������������������������
Brazil �������������������������������������������������������������������������
Mexico ����������������������������������������������������������������������
Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan ��
Saudi Arabia �������������������������������������������������������������
Sub-Saharan Africa ��������������������������������������������������������
Nigeria ����������������������������������������������������������������������
South Africa ��������������������������������������������������������������

1996–
2005
annual
average

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

3.9
2.8

5.6
3.1

5.7
2.8

3.0
.1

0.0
–3.4

5.4
3.1

4.1
1.7

3.4
1.2

3.3
1.3

3.3
1.8

3.5
2.4

3.4
2.1
1.2
2.3
1.4
3.7
1.0
3.4
3.3
3.8
5.2

2.7
3.3
3.9
2.4
2.2
4.1
1.7
2.8
2.6
4.8
8.2

1.8
3.0
3.4
2.4
1.7
3.5
2.2
3.4
2.0
5.1
8.6

–.3
.4
.8
.2
–1.2
.9
–1.0
–.8
1.2
1.8
5.8

–2.8
–4.5
–5.1
–2.9
–5.5
–3.8
–5.5
–5.2
–2.7
–1.0
3.1

2.5
1.9
3.9
2.0
1.7
–.2
4.7
1.7
3.4
5.9
7.5

1.6
1.6
3.4
2.1
.4
.1
–.5
1.1
2.5
3.3
6.2

2.3
–.7
.9
.3
–2.4
–1.6
1.5
.3
1.7
2.0
5.1

2.2
–.5
.2
.3
–1.9
–1.2
1.6
1.7
2.0
2.2
4.7

2.4
.8
1.5
.4
–.4
1.4
.1
2.6
2.4
2.8
4.4

3.6
1.2
1.3
.9
.4
2.0
.6
2.7
2.3
3.0
4.3

4.2
3.8
5.1
6.9
9.2
6.4
3.6
4.0
2.9
2.4
3.4
4.9
3.3
5.4
9.6
3.3

8.9
8.2
11.0
10.1
12.7
9.3
5.5
6.4
5.7
4.0
5.0
6.7
5.6
7.0
8.8
5.6

9.0
8.5
10.3
11.2
14.2
9.8
6.2
5.3
5.8
6.1
3.1
5.8
6.0
7.9
9.6
5.5

5.4
5.2
5.6
7.1
9.6
3.9
4.9
3.2
3.9
5.2
1.4
5.2
8.4
6.3
8.6
3.6

–6.2
–7.8
–2.3
7.5
9.2
8.5
2.1
–3.6
–1.3
–.3
–4.7
2.3
1.8
4.1
9.6
–1.5

5.0
4.5
6.1
9.5
10.4
10.3
6.9
4.7
6.0
7.5
5.1
5.3
7.4
6.9
10.6
3.1

4.8
4.3
6.1
7.7
9.3
6.6
4.7
5.5
4.5
2.7
4.0
4.4
8.6
5.1
4.9
3.6

3.4
3.4
3.6
6.7
7.7
4.7
6.2
1.4
2.9
1.0
4.0
4.8
5.8
4.4
4.3
2.5

2.2
1.3
4.3
6.6
7.8
5.0
5.2
2.8
2.8
2.5
1.4
2.2
2.7
5.2
5.4
2.2

.9
.6
1.5
6.5
7.4
5.8
4.5
2.7
1.2
.1
2.1
2.8
3.6
4.8
6.1
1.4

–1.4
–3.0
2.4
6.4
6.8
6.3
5.2
2.9
1.3
.3
3.2
3.3
2.8
4.9
4.8
2.1

2013 2014 1 2015 1

1 All figures are forecasts as published by the International Monetary Fund. For the United States, advance estimates by the Department of Commerce show
that real GDP rose 2.4 percent in 2014.
2 For 2015, includes data for: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands,
Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Spain.
3 Includes Georgia and Turkmenistan, which are not members of the Commonwealth of Independent States but are included for reasons of geography and
similarity in economic structure.
4 Data and forecasts are presented on a fiscal year basis and output growth is based on GDP at market prices.
5 Consists of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Note: For details on data shown in this table, see World Economic Outlook, October 2014, and World Economic Outlook Update, January 2015, published by
the International Monetary Fund.
Sources: International Monetary Fund and Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 389

Table B–5. Real exports and imports of goods and services, 1999–2014
[Billions of chained (2009) dollars; quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Exports of goods and services
Year or quarter

1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2011: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
�
2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV p �������������

Imports of goods and services

Goods 1
Total

1,159.1
1,258.4
1,184.9
1,164.5
1,185.0
1,300.6
1,381.9
1,506.8
1,646.4
1,740.8
1,587.7
1,776.6
1,898.3
1,960.1
2,019.8
2,082.5
1,862.3
1,890.7
1,910.6
1,929.7
1,936.0
1,958.9
1,969.1
1,976.5
1,972.3
2,002.8
2,027.7
2,076.5
2,026.9
2,080.7
2,104.0
2,118.4

Total
819.4
902.2
846.7
817.8
833.1
904.5
970.6
1,062.0
1,141.5
1,211.5
1,065.1
1,218.3
1,297.6
1,344.9
1,382.9
1,438.4
1,274.0
1,289.5
1,300.5
1,326.2
1,331.2
1,348.5
1,355.3
1,344.7
1,341.8
1,368.9
1,388.0
1,433.0
1,388.1
1,435.4
1,461.6
1,468.6

Durable
goods
533.8
599.3
549.5
518.7
528.0
586.0
641.0
710.1
770.8
810.2
671.6
784.8
852.0
891.3
908.4
940.5
828.7
849.5
859.2
870.7
893.6
890.7
892.6
888.1
887.5
913.3
910.5
922.3
913.1
939.5
959.7
949.8

Goods 1
Nondurable
goods
288.0
301.9
300.1
305.7
312.0
323.4
333.2
355.2
373.9
404.2
393.5
434.0
448.2
457.9
477.4
500.3
446.6
443.1
444.8
458.1
443.7
461.5
466.0
460.3
458.2
460.8
480.2
510.5
478.2
498.3
504.9
519.9

Services 1

338.6
354.3
336.6
345.7
350.8
395.4
410.3
443.5
504.1
528.3
522.6
558.0
600.6
614.7
636.6
643.5
588.0
601.2
610.3
603.0
604.2
609.7
613.2
631.8
630.4
633.6
639.3
642.9
638.4
644.7
641.6
649.1

Total

1,536.2
1,736.2
1,687.0
1,748.8
1,826.9
2,035.3
2,164.2
2,301.0
2,359.0
2,298.6
1,983.2
2,235.4
2,357.7
2,412.6
2,440.3
2,535.1
2,328.5
2,345.9
2,364.9
2,391.3
2,401.7
2,425.5
2,422.1
2,401.0
2,399.5
2,448.8
2,452.3
2,460.5
2,474.1
2,541.1
2,535.3
2,589.9

Total
1,286.9
1,455.4
1,408.4
1,461.1
1,533.0
1,704.1
1,817.9
1,925.4
1,960.9
1,887.9
1,590.3
1,826.7
1,932.1
1,973.1
1,991.5
2,071.6
1,917.7
1,921.3
1,931.8
1,957.8
1,967.2
1,986.8
1,981.2
1,957.2
1,959.8
2,000.1
2,000.8
2,005.3
2,017.7
2,077.8
2,071.0
2,119.9

Durable
goods
724.4
834.4
782.2
815.3
850.4
969.3
1,051.6
1,145.2
1,174.5
1,129.0
893.8
1,095.2
1,197.9
1,283.0
1,326.8
1,418.7
1,177.7
1,175.5
1,206.6
1,231.7
1,274.2
1,288.3
1,284.8
1,284.6
1,288.3
1,324.1
1,339.8
1,354.9
1,352.2
1,423.9
1,428.8
1,469.8

Nondurable
goods
572.8
624.4
641.1
659.3
698.9
745.7
774.8
787.7
794.2
766.1
696.5
735.8
745.9
716.2
698.7
697.8
748.6
753.7
739.2
742.2
718.1
723.9
721.7
701.1
700.7
708.1
696.7
689.2
701.8
699.2
689.7
700.4

Services 1

245.4
276.4
274.6
283.6
289.6
326.4
341.1
370.5
393.5
408.2
392.9
407.8
424.2
438.7
448.4
462.9
408.7
423.5
432.4
432.4
433.2
437.5
440.1
443.8
439.2
448.2
451.2
455.1
456.3
462.5
463.7
469.1

1 Certain goods, primarily military equipment purchased and sold by the Federal Government, are included in services. Repairs and alterations of equipment
are also included in services.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

390  |  Appendix B

Table B–6. Corporate profits by industry, 1965–2014
[Billions of dollars; quarterly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
Corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and without capital consumption adjustment
Domestic industries
Year or quarter

SIC: 2
1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
NAICS: 2
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2012: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
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2013: I ������������������

      II �����������������

      III ����������������

      IV ���������������
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2014: I ������������������

      II �����������������

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Total

Financial
Total

Total

Federal
Reserve
banks

Nonfinancial
Other

Total

Manufacturing

TransWholeporta- Utilities sale
tion 1
trade

Retail
trade

Information

Other

Rest
of
the
world

81.9
88.3
86.1
94.3
90.8
79.7
94.7
109.3
126.6
123.3
144.2
182.1
212.8
246.7
261.0
240.6
252.0
224.8
256.4
294.3
289.7
273.3
314.6
366.2
373.1
391.2
434.2
459.7
501.9
589.3
667.0
741.8
811.0
743.8
762.2
730.3

77.2
83.7
81.3
88.6
84.2
72.6
86.8
99.7
111.7
105.8
129.6
165.6
193.7
223.8
226.4
205.2
222.3
192.2
221.4
257.7
251.6
233.8
266.5
309.2
305.9
315.1
357.8
386.6
425.0
511.3
574.0
639.8
703.4
641.1
640.2
584.1

9.3
10.7
11.2
12.9
13.6
15.5
17.9
19.5
21.1
20.8
20.4
25.6
32.6
40.8
41.8
35.2
30.3
27.2
36.2
34.7
46.5
56.4
60.3
66.9
78.3
89.6
120.4
132.4
119.9
125.9
140.3
147.9
162.2
138.9
154.6
149.7

1.3
1.7
2.0
2.5
3.1
3.5
3.3
3.3
4.5
5.7
5.6
5.9
6.1
7.6
9.4
11.8
14.4
15.2
14.6
16.4
16.3
15.5
16.2
18.1
20.6
21.8
20.7
18.3
16.7
18.5
22.9
22.5
24.3
25.6
26.7
31.2

8.0
9.1
9.2
10.4
10.6
12.0
14.6
16.1
16.6
15.1
14.8
19.7
26.5
33.1
32.3
23.5
15.9
12.0
21.6
18.3
30.2
40.8
44.1
48.8
57.6
67.8
99.7
114.1
103.2
107.4
117.3
125.3
137.9
113.3
127.9
118.5

67.9
73.0
70.1
75.7
70.6
57.1
69.0
80.3
90.6
85.1
109.2
140.0
161.1
183.1
184.6
169.9
192.0
165.0
185.2
223.0
205.1
177.4
206.2
242.3
227.6
225.5
237.3
254.2
305.1
385.4
433.7
492.0
541.2
502.1
485.6
434.4

42.1
45.3
42.4
45.8
41.6
32.0
40.0
47.6
55.0
51.0
63.0
82.5
91.5
105.8
107.1
97.6
112.5
89.6
97.3
114.2
107.1
75.6
101.8
132.8
122.3
120.9
109.3
109.8
122.9
162.6
199.8
220.4
248.5
220.4
219.4
205.9

11.4
12.6
11.4
11.4
11.1
8.8
9.6
10.4
10.2
9.1
11.7
17.5
21.2
25.5
21.6
22.2
25.1
28.1
34.3
44.7
39.1
39.3
42.0
46.8
41.9
43.5
54.5
57.7
70.1
83.9
89.0
91.2
81.0
72.6
49.3
33.8

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3.8
4.0
4.1
4.7
4.9
4.6
5.4
7.2
8.8
12.2
14.3
13.7
16.4
16.7
20.0
18.5
23.7
20.7
21.9
30.4
24.6
24.4
18.9
20.4
22.0
19.4
22.3
25.3
26.5
31.4
28.0
39.9
48.1
50.6
46.8
50.4

4.9
4.9
5.7
6.4
6.4
6.1
7.3
7.5
7.0
2.8
8.4
10.9
12.8
13.1
10.7
7.0
10.7
14.3
19.3
21.5
22.8
23.4
23.3
19.8
20.9
20.3
26.9
28.1
39.7
46.3
43.9
52.0
63.4
72.3
72.5
68.9

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5.7
6.3
6.6
7.4
6.5
5.8
6.7
7.6
9.6
10.0
11.8
15.3
19.2
22.0
25.2
24.6
20.1
12.3
12.3
12.1
11.4
14.7
20.3
22.5
20.5
21.3
24.3
33.4
45.8
61.2
73.1
88.5
100.3
86.3
97.6
75.4

4.7
4.5
4.8
5.6
6.6
7.1
7.9
9.5
14.9
17.5
14.6
16.5
19.1
22.9
34.6
35.5
29.7
32.6
35.1
36.6
38.1
39.5
48.0
57.0
67.1
76.1
76.5
73.1
76.9
78.0
92.9
102.0
107.6
102.8
122.0
146.2

743.8
762.2
730.3
698.7
795.1
959.9
1,215.2
1,621.2
1,815.7
1,708.9
1,345.5
1,479.2
1,799.7
1,738.5
2,126.6
2,238.7
2,088.6
2,130.7
2,141.8
2,145.3
2,167.3
2,235.0
2,273.7
2,278.6
2,272.6
2,437.4
2,501.1

641.1
640.2
584.1
528.3
636.3
793.3
1,010.1
1,382.1
1,559.6
1,355.5
938.8
1,122.0
1,404.5
1,316.6
1,724.8
1,835.6
1,680.1
1,725.8
1,750.4
1,742.9
1,781.2
1,841.9
1,864.2
1,855.1
1,875.1
2,043.5
2,090.7

138.9
154.6
149.7
195.0
270.7
306.5
349.4
409.7
415.1
301.5
95.4
362.9
406.3
375.9
488.9
533.5
468.8
470.7
524.4
491.6
504.9
525.5
554.1
549.4
480.8
514.5
530.7

25.6
26.7
31.2
28.9
23.5
20.1
20.0
26.6
33.8
36.0
35.1
47.3
71.6
75.9
71.7
79.6
73.4
72.6
67.5
73.3
71.2
75.2
82.3
89.6
88.7
93.1
94.2

113.3
127.9
118.5
166.1
247.2
286.5
329.4
383.1
381.3
265.5
60.4
315.5
334.8
300.0
417.2
453.9
395.4
398.1
456.9
418.3
433.7
450.2
471.8
459.8
392.2
421.4
436.5

502.1
485.6
434.4
333.3
365.6
486.7
660.7
972.4
1,144.4
1,054.0
843.4
759.2
998.2
940.7
1,235.9
1,302.1
1,211.3
1,255.1
1,226.0
1,251.2
1,276.3
1,316.4
1,310.1
1,305.7
1,394.2
1,528.9
1,560.0

193.5
184.5
175.6
75.1
75.1
125.3
182.7
277.7
349.7
321.9
240.6
171.4
287.6
298.1
404.2
402.4
402.7
419.8
392.6
401.5
388.4
383.7
392.3
445.4
432.5
504.4
523.7

12.8
7.2
9.5
–.7
–6.0
4.8
12.0
27.7
41.2
23.9
28.8
22.4
44.7
30.4
51.9
62.6
51.8
53.9
53.3
48.5
60.3
61.5
62.8
65.7
73.6
83.5
82.1

33.3
34.4
24.3
22.5
11.1
13.5
20.5
30.8
55.1
49.5
30.1
23.8
30.3
9.8
12.9
20.9
21.0
11.6
12.1
6.9
6.8
31.1
30.0
15.8
42.3
50.4
54.5

57.3
55.6
59.5
51.1
55.8
59.3
74.7
96.2
105.9
103.2
90.6
89.3
102.4
94.4
136.6
154.5
123.6
142.1
134.4
146.4
158.1
157.1
154.8
147.9
152.0
157.6
174.4

62.5
59.5
51.3
71.3
83.7
90.5
93.2
121.7
132.5
119.0
80.3
108.7
118.6
114.3
157.2
171.2
153.2
155.8
149.2
170.8
166.2
179.1
175.4
164.2
168.1
176.7
175.8

33.1
20.8
–11.9
–26.4
–3.1
16.3
52.7
91.3
107.0
108.4
92.2
81.2
95.1
83.8
101.1
108.3
100.7
111.6
102.5
89.6
109.7
114.6
103.2
105.6
123.0
142.9
129.1

109.7
123.5
126.1
140.2
149.0
177.1
224.9
327.2
353.1
328.2
280.8
262.3
319.5
309.9
372.0
382.2
358.3
360.4
381.9
387.6
386.8
389.3
391.7
361.1
402.6
413.4
420.5

102.8
122.0
146.2
170.4
158.8
166.6
205.0
239.1
256.2
353.4
406.7
357.2
395.2
421.9
401.8
403.1
408.6
405.0
391.4
402.4
386.1
393.1
409.6
423.5
397.5
393.9
410.4

1 Data on Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) basis include transportation and public utilities. Those on North American Industry Classification System
(NAICS) basis include transporation and warehousing. Utilities classified separately in NAICS (as shown beginning 1998).
2 SIC-based industry data use the 1987 SIC for data beginning in 1987 and the 1972 SIC for prior data. NAICS-based data use 2002 NAICS.
Note: Industry data on SIC basis and NAICS basis are not necessarily the same and are not strictly comparable.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of Economic Analysis).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 391

Table B–7. Real farm income, 1950–2014
[Billions of chained (2009) dollars]
Income of farm operators from farming 1
Gross farm income
Year

Value of farm sector production
Total 2

1950 ����������������������
1951 ����������������������
1952 ����������������������
1953 ����������������������
1954 ����������������������
1955 ����������������������
1956 ����������������������
1957 ����������������������
1958 ����������������������
1959 ����������������������
1960 ����������������������
1961 ����������������������
1962 ����������������������
1963 ����������������������
1964 ����������������������
1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010  ���������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������

240.8
260.9
251.7
226.8
222.7
215.1
210.9
208.8
228.5
219.3
220.3
229.0
236.2
239.2
229.8
248.3
261.9
254.8
250.8
260.1
257.6
258.9
284.2
374.7
341.6
319.9
310.4
308.9
340.9
369.5
335.6
341.8
318.0
286.7
302.3
280.9
266.9
281.0
286.8
297.3
295.9
278.1
283.9
283.5
292.6
279.6
307.2
304.8
294.7
293.4
295.1
298.4
271.1
298.3
330.9
324.5
306.0
348.8
376.3
339.5
358.3
412.6
423.1
450.6
428.7

Total
238.8
258.9
249.9
225.4
221.1
213.6
207.5
202.7
222.1
215.4
216.3
220.5
226.5
229.9
218.0
235.2
244.9
239.2
234.0
242.6
241.3
245.8
268.4
364.8
339.8
317.4
308.2
303.7
332.8
366.1
332.7
337.8
311.2
269.4
287.1
267.5
246.7
253.0
263.5
280.4
282.0
266.2
271.0
265.0
282.0
270.0
297.6
295.2
279.0
266.6
266.8
271.6
256.5
279.2
316.3
298.0
289.4
336.6
363.9
327.4
346.1
402.5
413.0
440.3
419.0

Crops 3, 4
96.0
95.6
102.2
93.1
94.0
91.6
89.7
81.9
88.0
85.5
89.5
89.3
92.9
98.9
91.7
101.5
95.0
96.9
91.5
90.7
89.9
97.6
103.7
163.1
170.9
160.4
145.9
145.3
150.2
163.4
144.7
162.2
139.1
106.0
139.9
128.5
108.2
107.6
111.7
126.4
124.5
117.6
126.1
114.3
136.1
127.2
150.7
144.1
129.4
115.9
116.0
113.5
115.1
125.2
140.4
124.3
125.2
155.2
180.8
166.9
168.9
197.4
207.9
218.9
184.0

Livestock 4
132.0
152.1
135.7
120.1
115.3
110.0
106.2
109.0
121.9
116.8
113.5
117.4
119.5
116.4
111.2
118.4
134.2
126.0
126.3
135.2
134.7
131.1
147.4
183.2
148.9
136.8
140.6
134.4
156.2
174.5
158.1
144.7
136.6
130.5
129.6
120.3
120.9
126.4
126.8
129.5
134.7
126.3
123.4
127.2
121.5
116.4
119.9
123.3
119.3
118.9
121.0
127.0
109.9
121.1
139.4
137.5
125.9
142.2
140.9
117.8
138.2
158.2
159.2
170.6
189.5

Forestry
and
services
10.8
11.2
12.0
12.2
11.8
12.0
11.6
11.7
12.2
13.1
13.4
13.8
14.0
14.6
15.1
15.3
15.6
16.3
16.2
16.6
16.7
17.0
17.3
18.5
20.0
20.2
21.7
24.1
26.4
28.2
29.9
31.0
35.5
32.9
17.6
18.7
17.5
19.1
25.0
24.5
22.8
22.3
21.5
23.5
24.4
26.4
27.0
27.8
30.3
31.8
29.8
31.1
31.5
33.0
36.5
36.1
38.3
39.2
42.3
42.7
39.0
47.0
45.9
50.8
45.5

Direct
Government
payments
2.1
1.9
1.8
1.4
1.7
1.5
3.4
6.1
6.4
3.9
4.0
8.4
9.7
9.4
11.8
13.1
17.0
15.5
16.7
17.5
16.3
13.1
15.8
9.9
1.8
2.6
2.2
5.2
8.0
3.4
2.9
4.0
6.8
17.3
15.2
13.4
20.2
27.9
23.3
16.9
13.9
11.9
13.0
18.5
10.7
9.7
9.6
9.6
15.7
26.9
28.4
26.8
14.6
19.1
14.6
26.5
16.7
12.2
12.3
12.2
12.2
10.1
10.1
10.3
9.7

Production
expenses

Net
farm
income

141.5
152.3
152.0
141.3
142.1
142.4
141.0
142.2
151.3
157.3
156.3
161.4
168.9
174.3
172.8
179.5
189.4
192.5
191.2
194.2
194.7
196.3
206.5
244.6
246.8
238.8
249.5
252.4
274.0
302.3
299.3
286.6
271.8
260.2
255.6
231.2
213.7
217.6
222.9
225.2
226.7
219.8
212.9
218.9
221.4
226.9
230.4
239.1
235.0
233.9
233.2
232.8
225.1
228.0
232.8
238.9
245.5
276.9
296.3
283.0
284.0
302.5
325.6
329.8
339.4

1 The GDP chain-type price index is used to convert the current-dollar statistics to 2009=100 equivalents.
2 Value of production, Government payments, other farm-related cash income, and nonmoney income produced by farms including imputed rent of farm

dwellings.
3 Crop receipts include proceeds received from commodities placed under Commodity Credit Corporation loans.
4 The value of production equates to the sum of cash receipts, home consumption, and the value of the change in inventories.
Note: Data for 2014 are forecasts.
Source: Department of Agriculture (Economic Research Service).

392  |  Appendix B

99.3
108.6
99.8
85.4
80.6
72.6
69.9
66.5
77.2
62.0
64.0
67.5
67.3
64.9
57.0
68.8
72.4
62.2
59.6
65.9
62.9
62.6
77.7
130.2
94.8
81.2
60.8
56.5
66.9
67.2
36.3
55.2
46.2
26.6
46.7
49.7
53.2
63.4
63.9
72.1
69.2
58.3
71.0
64.6
71.2
52.8
76.8
65.7
59.7
59.6
61.9
65.5
46.0
70.3
98.1
85.6
60.6
71.9
80.0
56.6
74.3
110.1
97.5
120.8
89.3

Table B–8. New private housing units started, authorized, and completed and houses sold,
1970–2014
[Thousands; monthly data at seasonally adjusted annual rates]
New housing units started
Type of structure

Year or month
Total
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2013: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�
2014: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov p ����������
      Dec p ����������

1,433.6
2,052.2
2,356.6
2,045.3
1,337.7
1,160.4
1,537.5
1,987.1
2,020.3
1,745.1
1,292.2
1,084.2
1,062.2
1,703.0
1,749.5
1,741.8
1,805.4
1,620.5
1,488.1
1,376.1
1,192.7
1,013.9
1,199.7
1,287.6
1,457.0
1,354.1
1,476.8
1,474.0
1,616.9
1,640.9
1,568.7
1,602.7
1,704.9
1,847.7
1,955.8
2,068.3
1,800.9
1,355.0
905.5
554.0
586.9
608.8
780.6
924.9
1,005.8
896
951
994
848
915
831
898
885
863
936
1,105
1,034
897
928
950
1,063
984
909
1,098
963
1,028
1,092
1,043
1,089

New housing units authorized 1
Type of structure

1 unit
812.9
1,151.0
1,309.2
1,132.0
888.1
892.2
1,162.4
1,450.9
1,433.3
1,194.1
852.2
705.4
662.6
1,067.6
1,084.2
1,072.4
1,179.4
1,146.4
1,081.3
1,003.3
894.8
840.4
1,029.9
1,125.7
1,198.4
1,076.2
1,160.9
1,133.7
1,271.4
1,302.4
1,230.9
1,273.3
1,358.6
1,499.0
1,610.5
1,715.8
1,465.4
1,046.0
622.0
445.1
471.2
430.6
535.3
617.6
648.0
618
650
613
591
597
601
596
617
582
603
710
675
583
589
635
649
634
593
652
641
663
716
679
728

2 to 4
units 2
84.9
120.5
141.2
118.2
68.0
64.0
85.8
121.7
125.1
122.0
109.5
91.2
80.1
113.5
121.4
93.5
84.0
65.1
58.7
55.3
37.6
35.6
30.9
29.4
35.2
33.8
45.3
44.5
42.6
31.9
38.7
36.6
38.5
33.5
42.3
41.1
42.7
31.7
17.5
11.6
11.4
10.9
11.4
13.6
13.9
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������

5 units
or more

Total

535.9
780.9
906.2
795.0
381.6
204.3
289.2
414.4
462.0
429.0
330.5
287.7
319.6
522.0
543.9
576.0
542.0
408.7
348.0
317.6
260.4
137.9
139.0
132.6
223.5
244.1
270.8
295.8
302.9
306.6
299.1
292.8
307.9
315.2
303.0
311.4
292.8
277.3
266.0
97.3
104.3
167.3
233.9
293.7
343.9
267
291
356
243
307
219
283
255
271
322
386
338
306
328
301
405
341
294
430
305
353
359
354
339

1,351.5
1,924.6
2,218.9
1,819.5
1,074.4
939.2
1,296.2
1,690.0
1,800.5
1,551.8
1,190.6
985.5
1,000.5
1,605.2
1,681.8
1,733.3
1,769.4
1,534.8
1,455.6
1,338.4
1,110.8
948.8
1,094.9
1,199.1
1,371.6
1,332.5
1,425.6
1,441.1
1,612.3
1,663.5
1,592.3
1,636.7
1,747.7
1,889.2
2,070.1
2,155.3
1,838.9
1,398.4
905.4
583.0
604.6
624.1
829.7
990.8
1,038.5
947
976
926
1,040
1,010
938
977
948
993
1,067
1,037
1,022
939
1,011
1,000
1,059
1,005
973
1,057
1,003
1,031
1,092
1,052
1,058

1 unit
646.8
906.1
1,033.1
882.1
643.8
675.5
893.6
1,126.1
1,182.6
981.5
710.4
564.3
546.4
901.5
922.4
956.6
1,077.6
1,024.4
993.8
931.7
793.9
753.5
910.7
986.5
1,068.5
997.3
1,069.5
1,062.4
1,187.6
1,246.7
1,198.1
1,235.6
1,332.6
1,460.9
1,613.4
1,682.0
1,378.2
979.9
575.6
441.1
447.3
418.5
518.7
620.8
630.3
597
611
605
622
624
627
616
631
617
625
645
617
598
593
600
597
615
634
631
627
631
647
638
668

2 to 4
units
88.1
132.9
148.6
117.0
64.4
63.8
93.1
121.3
130.6
125.4
114.5
101.8
88.3
133.7
142.6
120.1
108.4
89.3
75.7
66.9
54.3
43.1
45.8
52.4
62.2
63.8
65.8
68.4
69.2
65.8
64.9
66.0
73.7
82.5
90.4
84.0
76.6
59.6
34.4
20.7
22.0
21.6
25.9
29.0
27.5
29
36
26
28
29
29
30
25
29
30
27
30
26
23
28
26
27
30
30
31
24
32
28
27

5 units
or more
616.7
885.7
1,037.2
820.5
366.2
199.8
309.5
442.7
487.3
444.8
365.7
319.4
365.8
570.1
616.8
656.6
583.5
421.1
386.1
339.8
262.6
152.1
138.4
160.2
241.0
271.5
290.3
310.3
355.5
351.1
329.3
335.2
341.4
345.8
366.2
389.3
384.1
359.0
295.4
121.1
135.3
184.0
285.1
341.1
380.7
321
329
295
390
357
282
331
292
347
412
365
375
315
395
372
436
363
309
396
345
376
413
386
363

New
housing
units
completed
1,418.4
1,706.1
2,003.9
2,100.5
1,728.5
1,317.2
1,377.2
1,657.1
1,867.5
1,870.8
1,501.6
1,265.7
1,005.5
1,390.3
1,652.2
1,703.3
1,756.4
1,668.8
1,529.8
1,422.8
1,308.0
1,090.8
1,157.5
1,192.7
1,346.9
1,312.6
1,412.9
1,400.5
1,474.2
1,604.9
1,573.7
1,570.8
1,648.4
1,678.7
1,841.9
1,931.4
1,979.4
1,502.8
1,119.7
794.4
651.7
584.9
649.2
764.4
883.0
726
723
805
699
719
763
779
763
761
815
826
775
850
866
874
832
898
809
860
908
950
915
872
927

New
houses
sold
485
656
718
634
519
549
646
819
817
709
545
436
412
623
639
688
750
671
676
650
534
509
610
666
670
667
757
804
886
880
877
908
973
1,086
1,203
1,283
1,051
776
485
375
323
306
368
429
435
453
448
440
452
431
459
367
379
399
450
445
442
457
432
403
413
458
409
399
448
456
462
431
481

1 Authorized by issuance of local building permits in permit-issuing places: 20,000 places beginning with 2004; 19,000 for 1994–2003; 17,000 for 1984–93;
16,000 for 1978–83; 14,000 for 1972–77; and 13,000 for 1970–71.
2 Monthly data do not meet publication standards because tests for identifiable and stable seasonality do not meet reliability standards.
Note: One-unit estimates prior to 1999, for new housing units started and completed and for new houses sold, include an upward adjustment of 3.3 percent
to account for structures in permit-issuing areas that did not have permit authorization.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of the Census).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 393

Table B–9. Median money income (in 2013 dollars) and poverty status of families and
people, by race, 2004-2013
Families 1

People below
poverty level

Below poverty level
Race,
Hispanic origin,
and
year

Number
(millions)

TOTAL (all races) 3
2004 4 �������������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������������
2009 5 �������������������������������������
2010 6 �������������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������������
2013 7 �������������������������������������
WHITE, non-Hispanic 8
2004 4 �������������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������������
2009 5 �������������������������������������
2010 6 �������������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������������
2013 7 �������������������������������������
BLACK 8
2004 4 �������������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������������
2009 5 �������������������������������������
2010 6 �������������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������������
2013 7 �������������������������������������
ASIAN 8
2004 4 �������������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������������
2009 5 �������������������������������������
2010 6 �������������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������������
2013 7 �������������������������������������
HISPANIC (any race) 8
2004 4 �������������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������������
2009 5 �������������������������������������
2010 6 �������������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������������
2013 7 �������������������������������������

Median
Female
money
householder,
Total
income
no husband
(in
present
Number
2013
(milPercent
dollions)
Number
lars) 2 Number
(milPercent
(milPercent
lions)
lions)

Median money income (in 2013 dollars)
of people 15 years old and over
with income 2
Males

All
people

Yearround
full-time
workers

Females

All
people

12.7 $37,633 $51,385 $21,788
12.6 37,318 50,340 22,166
12.3 37,277 51,942 23,123
12.5 37,295 51,932 23,505
13.2 35,877 51,693 22,576
14.3 34,953 53,394 22,760
15.1 34,408 53,581 22,196
15.0 34,164 52,114 21,856
15.0 34,397 51,419 21,833
14.5 35,228 50,943 22,063

Yearround
full-time
workers

76.9 $66,670
77.4 67,053
78.5 67,481
77.9 68,931
78.9 66,560
78.9 65,257
79.6 64,356
80.5 63,152
80.9 63,145
81.2 63,815

7.8
7.7
7.7
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.4
9.5
9.5
9.1

10.2
9.9
9.8
9.8
10.3
11.1
11.8
11.8
11.8
11.2

4.0
4.0
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.4
4.8
4.9
4.8
4.6

28.3
28.7
28.3
28.3
28.7
29.9
31.7
31.2
30.9
30.6

37.0
37.0
36.5
37.3
39.8
43.6
46.3
46.2
46.5
45.3

$39,607
39,682
40,425
40,633
39,693
40,437
41,068
40,067
40,601
40,597

54.3
54.3
54.7
53.9
54.5
54.5
53.8
54.2
54.0
53.8

75,220
75,360
76,098
78,573
75,809
73,134
73,616
72,324
72,517
72,624

3.5
3.3
3.4
3.2
3.4
3.8
3.9
4.0
3.8
3.7

6.5
6.1
6.2
5.9
6.2
7.0
7.2
7.3
7.1
6.9

1.5
1.5
1.6
1.5
1.5
1.7
1.7
1.8
1.7
1.6

20.8
21.5
22.0
20.7
20.7
23.3
24.1
23.4
23.4
22.6

16.9
16.2
16.0
16.0
17.0
18.5
19.3
19.2
18.9
18.8

8.7
8.3
8.2
8.2
8.6
9.4
9.9
9.8
9.7
9.6

41,533
42,175
42,244
41,988
40,473
39,950
39,695
39,511
39,314
40,122

57,940
57,417
58,281
57,820
56,634
56,983
58,391
57,755
57,064
56,456

22,735
23,210
23,947
24,365
23,530
23,826
23,200
23,020
23,235
23,780

43,068
42,714
42,616
43,454
42,703
43,729
44,159
42,851
42,784
42,784

8.9
9.1
9.3
9.3
9.4
9.4
9.6
9.7
9.8
9.9

43,346
42,317
44,214
45,100
43,145
41,713
41,234
41,942
41,106
41,588

2.0
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.1
2.1
2.3
2.3
2.3
2.3

22.8
22.1
21.6
22.1
22.0
22.7
24.1
24.2
23.7
22.8

1.5
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.7
1.7
1.6
1.6

37.6
36.1
36.6
37.3
37.2
36.7
38.7
39.0
37.8
38.5

9.0
9.2
9.0
9.2
9.4
9.9
10.7
10.9
10.9
11.0

24.7
24.9
24.3
24.5
24.7
25.8
27.4
27.6
27.2
27.2

27,982
27,030
28,958
29,011
27,323
25,780
24,889
24,314
25,285
24,855

39,118
40,848
40,988
41,272
41,775
42,748
40,304
41,712
40,395
41,630

21,408
21,038
22,071
22,191
21,851
21,145
20,990
20,461
20,312
20,044

35,943
36,230
35,742
35,492
34,822
35,263
36,371
36,402
35,600
35,381

3.1
3.2
3.3
3.3
3.5
3.6
3.9
4.2
4.1
4.4

80,678
82,282
86,203
86,657
79,605
81,482
80,361
75,604
78,995
76,402

.2
.3
.3
.3
.3
.3
.4
.4
.4
.4

7.4
9.0
7.8
7.9
9.8
9.4
9.3
9.7
9.4
8.7

.0
.1
.1
.1
.1
.1
.1
.1
.1
.1

13.6
19.7
15.4
16.1
16.7
16.9
21.1
19.1
19.2
14.9

1.2
1.4
1.4
1.3
1.6
1.7
1.9
2.0
1.9
1.8

9.8
11.1
10.3
10.2
11.8
12.5
12.2
12.3
11.7
10.5

40,720
40,826
43,230
41,786
39,605
40,542
38,273
37,632
40,812
40,153

57,733
59,337
60,195
57,537
56,027
58,025
56,096
58,294
61,129
60,154

25,308
25,823
25,650
27,362
25,002
26,437
25,175
22,826
23,674
24,840

45,155
43,926
46,501
46,417
47,829
48,466
44,787
42,890
47,045
45,076

9.5
9.9
10.2
10.4
10.5
10.4
11.3
11.6
12.0
12.1

43,706
45,184
46,214
45,575
43,781
43,148
41,988
41,492
41,356
42,269

2.0
1.9
1.9
2.0
2.2
2.4
2.7
2.7
2.8
2.6

20.5
19.7
18.9
19.7
21.3
22.7
24.3
22.9
23.5
21.6

.9
.9
.9
1.0
1.0
1.1
1.3
1.3
1.3
1.3

38.9
38.9
36.0
38.4
39.2
38.8
42.6
41.2
40.7
40.4

9.1
9.4
9.2
9.9
11.0
12.4
13.5
13.2
13.6
12.7

21.9
21.8
20.6
21.5
23.2
25.3
26.5
25.3
25.6
23.5

26,584
26,357
27,095
27,470
25,969
24,171
23,953
24,579
24,949
25,411

33,172
32,177
34,165
34,214
33,776
34,360
34,021
33,234
32,989
32,949

17,823
17,941
18,206
18,816
17,762
17,605
17,406
17,430
16,968
17,762

29,961
29,857
29,686
30,507
29,689
30,282
31,086
31,177
29,937
30,799

1 The term “family” refers to a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together. Every family must include a
reference person.
2 Adjusted by consumer price index research series (CPI-U-RS).
3 Data for American Indians and Alaska natives, native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and those reporting two or more races are included in the total
but not shown separately.
4 For 2004, figures are revised to reflect a correction to the weights in the 2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).
5 Beginning with data for 2009, the upper income interval used to calculate median incomes was expanded to $250,000 or more.
6 Reflects implementation of Census 2010-based population controls comparable to succeeding years.
7 For 2013, data are based on the 2014 ASEC sample of 68,000 addresses that received income questions similar to those used in the 2013 ASEC. The 2014
ASEC also included redesigned income questions that were provided to a separate 30,000 addresses.
8 The Current Population Survey allows respondents to choose more than one race. Data shown are for “white alone, non-Hispanic,” “black alone,” and
“Asian alone” race categories. (“Black” is also “black or African American.”) Family race and Hispanic origin are based on the reference person.
Note: Poverty thresholds are updated each year to reflect changes in the consumer price index (CPI-U).
For details see publication Series P–60 on the Current Population Survey and Annual Social and Economic Supplements.
Source: Department of Commerce (Bureau of the Census).

394  |  Appendix B

Table B–10. Changes in consumer price indexes, 1946–2014
[For all urban consumers; percent change]
December
to
December
1946 ����������������������
1947 ����������������������
1948 ����������������������
1949 ����������������������
1950 ����������������������
1951 ����������������������
1952 ����������������������
1953 ����������������������
1954 ����������������������
1955 ����������������������
1956 ����������������������
1957 ����������������������
1958 ����������������������
1959 ����������������������
1960 ����������������������
1961 ����������������������
1962 ����������������������
1963 ����������������������
1964 ����������������������
1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 ����������������������

All items less food and energy
All items

18.1
8.8
3.0
–2.1
5.9
6.0
.8
.7
–.7
.4
3.0
2.9
1.8
1.7
1.4
.7
1.3
1.6
1.0
1.9
3.5
3.0
4.7
6.2
5.6
3.3
3.4
8.7
12.3
6.9
4.9
6.7
9.0
13.3
12.5
8.9
3.8
3.8
3.9
3.8
1.1
4.4
4.4
4.6
6.1
3.1
2.9
2.7
2.7
2.5
3.3
1.7
1.6
2.7
3.4
1.6
2.4
1.9
3.3
3.4
2.5
4.1
.1
2.7
1.5
3.0
1.7
1.5
.8

Total 1

Shelter 2

Medical
care 3

���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
1.7
2.0
1.0
1.3
1.3
1.6
1.2
1.5
3.3
3.8
5.1
6.2
6.6
3.1
3.0
4.7
11.1
6.7
6.1
6.5
8.5
11.3
12.2
9.5
4.5
4.8
4.7
4.3
3.8
4.2
4.7
4.4
5.2
4.4
3.3
3.2
2.6
3.0
2.6
2.2
2.4
1.9
2.6
2.7
1.9
1.1
2.2
2.2
2.6
2.4
1.8
1.8
.8
2.2
1.9
1.7
1.6

���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
3.2
1.8
.9
2.6
3.4
.8
2.0
1.6
.8
.8
1.9
1.5
2.2
4.0
2.8
6.5
8.7
8.9
2.7
4.0
7.1
11.4
7.2
4.2
8.8
11.4
17.5
15.0
9.9
2.4
4.7
5.2
6.0
4.6
4.8
4.5
4.9
5.2
3.9
2.9
3.0
3.0
3.5
2.9
3.4
3.3
2.5
3.4
4.2
3.1
2.2
2.7
2.6
4.2
3.1
1.9
.3
.4
1.9
2.2
2.5
2.9

8.3
6.9
5.8
1.4
3.4
5.8
4.3
3.5
2.3
3.3
3.2
4.7
4.5
3.8
3.2
3.1
2.2
2.5
2.1
2.8
6.7
6.3
6.2
6.2
7.4
4.6
3.3
5.3
12.6
9.8
10.0
8.9
8.8
10.1
9.9
12.5
11.0
6.4
6.1
6.8
7.7
5.8
6.9
8.5
9.6
7.9
6.6
5.4
4.9
3.9
3.0
2.8
3.4
3.7
4.2
4.7
5.0
3.7
4.2
4.3
3.6
5.2
2.6
3.4
3.3
3.5
3.2
2.0
3.0

Apparel

Energy 4

Food
New
vehicles

18.1 ���������������
8.2 ���������������
5.1
11.5
–7.4
4.0
5.3
.2
5.7
9.7
–2.9
4.4
.7
–1.7
–.7
1.3
.5
–2.3
2.5
7.8
.9
2.0
.2
6.1
1.3
–.2
1.5
–3.0
.4
.2
.6
–1.0
1.7
–.4
.4
–.6
1.3
–2.9
3.9
.0
4.2
2.8
6.3
1.4
5.2
2.1
3.9
6.6
2.1
–3.2
2.6
.2
4.4
1.3
8.7
11.4
2.4
7.3
4.6
4.8
4.3
7.2
3.1
6.2
5.5
7.4
6.8
7.4
3.5
6.8
1.6
1.4
2.9
3.3
2.0
2.5
2.8
3.6
.9
5.6
4.8
1.8
4.7
2.2
1.0
2.4
5.1
2.0
3.4
3.2
1.4
2.3
.9
3.3
–1.6
3.3
.1
1.9
–.2
1.8
1.0
–.9
–.7
.0
–.5
–.3
–1.8
.0
–3.2
–.1
–1.8
–2.0
–2.1
–1.8
–.2
.6
–1.1
–.4
.9
–.9
–.3
–.3
–1.0
–3.2
1.9
4.9
–1.1
–.2
4.6
3.2
1.8
1.6
.6
.4
–2.0
.5

Total 1

At home

31.3 ���������������
11.3 ���������������
–.8
–1.1
–3.9
–3.7
9.8
9.5
7.1
7.6
–1.0
–1.3
–1.1
–1.6
–1.8
–2.3
–.7
–1.0
2.9
2.7
2.8
3.0
2.4
1.9
–1.0
–1.3
3.1
3.2
–.7
–1.6
1.3
1.3
2.0
1.6
1.3
1.5
3.5
3.6
4.0
3.2
1.2
.3
4.4
4.0
7.0
7.1
2.3
1.3
4.3
4.3
4.6
5.1
20.3
22.0
12.0
12.4
6.6
6.2
.5
–.8
8.1
7.9
11.8
12.5
10.2
9.7
10.2
10.5
4.3
2.9
3.1
2.3
2.7
1.8
3.8
3.6
2.6
2.0
3.8
3.7
3.5
3.5
5.2
5.6
5.6
6.2
5.3
5.8
1.9
1.3
1.5
1.5
2.9
3.5
2.9
3.5
2.1
2.0
4.3
4.9
1.5
1.0
2.3
2.1
1.9
1.7
2.8
2.9
2.8
2.6
1.5
.8
3.6
4.5
2.7
2.4
2.3
1.7
2.1
1.4
4.9
5.6
5.9
6.6
–.5
–2.4
1.5
1.7
4.7
6.0
1.8
1.3
1.1
.4
3.4
3.7

Away
from
home

Total 1

���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
0.9
1.4
2.7
3.9
2.1
3.3
2.4
2.3
3.0
1.8
1.4
3.2
5.5
4.6
5.6
7.4
6.1
4.4
4.2
12.7
11.3
7.4
6.0
7.9
10.4
11.4
9.6
7.1
5.1
4.1
4.2
3.8
4.3
3.7
4.4
4.6
4.5
2.9
1.4
1.9
1.9
2.2
3.1
2.6
2.5
2.3
2.4
3.0
2.3
2.3
3.0
3.2
3.2
4.0
5.0
1.9
1.3
2.9
2.5
2.1
3.0

���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
���������������
–0.9
4.7
1.3
–1.3
2.2
–.9
.0
1.8
1.7
1.7
1.7
2.9
4.8
3.1
2.6
17.0
21.6
11.4
7.1
7.2
7.9
37.5
18.0
11.9
1.3
–.5
.2
1.8
–19.7
8.2
.5
5.1
18.1
–7.4
2.0
–1.4
2.2
–1.3
8.6
–3.4
–8.8
13.4
14.2
–13.0
10.7
6.9
16.6
17.1
2.9
17.4
–21.3
18.2
7.7
6.6
.5
.5
–10.6

Gasoline
7.8
16.4
6.2
1.6
1.6
2.1
.5
10.1
–1.4
4.2
3.1
2.2
–3.8
7.0
1.2
–3.2
3.8
–2.4
.0
4.1
3.2
1.5
1.5
3.4
2.5
–.4
2.8
19.6
20.7
11.0
2.8
4.8
8.6
52.1
18.9
9.4
–6.7
–1.6
–2.5
3.0
–30.7
18.6
–1.8
6.5
36.8
–16.2
2.0
–5.9
6.4
–4.2
12.4
–6.1
–15.4
30.1
13.9
–24.9
24.8
6.8
26.1
16.1
6.4
29.6
–43.1
53.5
13.8
9.9
1.7
–1.0
–21.0

C-CPI-U 5

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����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
����������������
2.6
1.3
2.0
1.7
3.2
2.9
2.3
3.7
.2
2.5
1.3
2.9
1.5
1.3
.3

1 Includes other items not shown separately.
2 Data beginning with 1983 incorporate a rental equivalence measure for homeowners’ costs.
3 Commodities and services.
4 Household energy--electricity, utility (piped) gas service, fuel oil, etc.--and motor fuel.
5 Chained consumer price index (C-CPI-U) introduced in 2002. Reflects the effect of substitution that consumers make across item categories in response to

changes in relative prices. Data for 2014 are subject to revision.
Note: Changes from December to December are based on unadjusted indexes.
Series reflect changes in composition and renaming beginning in 1998, and formula and methodology changes in 1999.
Source: Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

GDP, Income, Prices, and Selected Indicators  | 395

Labor Market Indicators
Table B–11. Civilian population and labor force, 1929–2014
[Monthly data seasonally adjusted, except as noted]

Year or month

Civilian
noninstitutional
population 1

Civilian labor force
Employment
Total

Total

NonAgricultural agricultural

Not in
labor
force

Civilian
labor force
participation rate 2

Civilian
employment/
population
ratio 3

1,550
4,340
8,020
12,060
12,830
11,340
10,610
9,030
7,700
10,390
9,480
8,120
5,560
2,660
1,070
670
1,040
2,270
2,356

������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
������������������
44,200
43,990
42,230
39,100
38,590
40,230
45,550
45,850

�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
55.7
56.0
57.2
58.7
58.6
57.2
55.8
56.8

�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
47.6
50.4
54.5
57.6
57.9
56.1
53.6
54.5

3.2
8.7
15.9
23.6
24.9
21.7
20.1
16.9
14.3
19.0
17.2
14.6
9.9
4.7
1.9
1.2
1.9
3.9
3.9

2,311
2,276
3,637
3,288
2,055
1,883
1,834
3,532
2,852
2,750
2,859
4,602
3,740
3,852
4,714
3,911
4,070
3,786
3,366
2,875
2,975
2,817
2,832
4,093
5,016
4,882
4,365
5,156
7,929
7,406
6,991
6,202
6,137
7,637
8,273
10,678
10,717
8,539
8,312
8,237
7,425
6,701
6,528

42,477
42,447
42,708
42,787
42,604
43,093
44,041
44,678
44,660
44,402
45,336
46,088
46,960
47,617
48,312
49,539
50,583
51,394
52,058
52,288
52,527
53,291
53,602
54,315
55,834
57,091
57,667
58,171
59,377
59,991
60,025
59,659
59,900
60,806
61,460
62,067
62,665
62,839
62,744
62,752
62,888
62,944
62,523

58.3
58.8
58.9
59.2
59.2
59.0
58.9
58.8
59.3
60.0
59.6
59.5
59.3
59.4
59.3
58.8
58.7
58.7
58.9
59.2
59.6
59.6
60.1
60.4
60.2
60.4
60.8
61.3
61.2
61.6
62.3
63.2
63.7
63.8
63.9
64.0
64.0
64.4
64.8
65.3
65.6
65.9
66.5

56.0
56.6
55.4
56.1
57.3
57.3
57.1
55.5
56.7
57.5
57.1
55.4
56.0
56.1
55.4
55.5
55.4
55.7
56.2
56.9
57.3
57.5
58.0
57.4
56.6
57.0
57.8
57.8
56.1
56.8
57.9
59.3
59.9
59.2
59.0
57.8
57.9
59.5
60.1
60.7
61.5
62.3
63.0

3.9
3.8
5.9
5.3
3.3
3.0
2.9
5.5
4.4
4.1
4.3
6.8
5.5
5.5
6.7
5.5
5.7
5.2
4.5
3.8
3.8
3.6
3.5
4.9
5.9
5.6
4.9
5.6
8.5
7.7
7.1
6.1
5.8
7.1
7.6
9.7
9.6
7.5
7.2
7.0
6.2
5.5
5.3

Unemployment

Thousands of persons 14 years of age and over
1929 ����������������������
1930 ����������������������
1931 ����������������������
1932 ����������������������
1933 ����������������������
1934 ����������������������
1935 ����������������������
1936 ����������������������
1937 ����������������������
1938 ����������������������
1939 ����������������������
1940 ����������������������
1941 ����������������������
1942 ����������������������
1943 ����������������������
1944 ����������������������
1945 ����������������������
1946 ����������������������
1947 ����������������������

�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
�������������������
99,840
99,900
98,640
94,640
93,220
94,090
103,070
106,018

49,180
49,820
50,420
51,000
51,590
52,230
52,870
53,440
54,000
54,610
55,230
55,640
55,910
56,410
55,540
54,630
53,860
57,520
60,168

1947 ����������������������
1948 ����������������������
1949 ����������������������
1950 ����������������������
1951 ����������������������
1952 ����������������������
1953 ����������������������
1954 ����������������������
1955 ����������������������
1956 ����������������������
1957 ����������������������
1958 ����������������������
1959 ����������������������
1960 ����������������������
1961 ����������������������
1962 ����������������������
1963 ����������������������
1964 ����������������������
1965 ����������������������
1966 ����������������������
1967 ����������������������
1968 ����������������������
1969 ����������������������
1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������

101,827
103,068
103,994
104,995
104,621
105,231
107,056
108,321
109,683
110,954
112,265
113,727
115,329
117,245
118,771
120,153
122,416
124,485
126,513
128,058
129,874
132,028
134,335
137,085
140,216
144,126
147,096
150,120
153,153
156,150
159,033
161,910
164,863
167,745
170,130
172,271
174,215
176,383
178,206
180,587
182,753
184,613
186,393

59,350
60,621
61,286
62,208
62,017
62,138
63,015
63,643
65,023
66,552
66,929
67,639
68,369
69,628
70,459
70,614
71,833
73,091
74,455
75,770
77,347
78,737
80,734
82,771
84,382
87,034
89,429
91,949
93,775
96,158
99,009
102,251
104,962
106,940
108,670
110,204
111,550
113,544
115,461
117,834
119,865
121,669
123,869

47,630
45,480
42,400
38,940
38,760
40,890
42,260
44,410
46,300
44,220
45,750
47,520
50,350
53,750
54,470
53,960
52,820
55,250
57,812

10,450
10,340
10,290
10,170
10,090
9,900
10,110
10,000
9,820
9,690
9,610
9,540
9,100
9,250
9,080
8,950
8,580
8,320
8,256

37,180
35,140
32,110
28,770
28,670
30,990
32,150
34,410
36,480
34,530
36,140
37,980
41,250
44,500
45,390
45,010
44,240
46,930
49,557

Unemployment
rate,
civilian
workers 4

Percent

Thousands of persons 16 years of age and over
57,038
58,343
57,651
58,918
59,961
60,250
61,179
60,109
62,170
63,799
64,071
63,036
64,630
65,778
65,746
66,702
67,762
69,305
71,088
72,895
74,372
75,920
77,902
78,678
79,367
82,153
85,064
86,794
85,846
88,752
92,017
96,048
98,824
99,303
100,397
99,526
100,834
105,005
107,150
109,597
112,440
114,968
117,342

7,890
7,629
7,658
7,160
6,726
6,500
6,260
6,205
6,450
6,283
5,947
5,586
5,565
5,458
5,200
4,944
4,687
4,523
4,361
3,979
3,844
3,817
3,606
3,463
3,394
3,484
3,470
3,515
3,408
3,331
3,283
3,387
3,347
3,364
3,368
3,401
3,383
3,321
3,179
3,163
3,208
3,169
3,199

1 Not seasonally adjusted.
2 Civilian labor force as percent of civilian noninstitutional population.
3 Civilian employment as percent of civilian noninstitutional population.
4 Unemployed as percent of civilian labor force.

See next page for continuation of table.

396  |  Appendix B

49,148
50,714
49,993
51,758
53,235
53,749
54,919
53,904
55,722
57,514
58,123
57,450
59,065
60,318
60,546
61,759
63,076
64,782
66,726
68,915
70,527
72,103
74,296
75,215
75,972
78,669
81,594
83,279
82,438
85,421
88,734
92,661
95,477
95,938
97,030
96,125
97,450
101,685
103,971
106,434
109,232
111,800
114,142

Table B–11. Civilian population and labor force, 1929–2014—Continued
[Monthly data seasonally adjusted, except as noted]

Year or month

Civilian
noninstitutional
population 1

Civilian labor force
Employment
Total

Total

NonAgricultural agricultural

Unemployment

Not in
labor
force

Civilian
labor force
participation rate 2

Thousands of persons 16 years of age and over
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 5 ��������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 ����������������������
2012: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�
2013: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�
2014: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�

189,164
190,925
192,805
194,838
196,814
198,584
200,591
203,133
205,220
207,753
212,577
215,092
217,570
221,168
223,357
226,082
228,815
231,867
233,788
235,801
237,830
239,618
243,284
245,679
247,947
242,269
242,435
242,604
242,784
242,966
243,155
243,354
243,566
243,772
243,983
244,174
244,350
244,663
244,828
244,995
245,175
245,363
245,552
245,756
245,959
246,168
246,381
246,567
246,745
246,915
247,085
247,258
247,439
247,622
247,814
248,023
248,229
248,446
248,657
248,844
249,027

125,840
126,346
128,105
129,200
131,056
132,304
133,943
136,297
137,673
139,368
142,583
143,734
144,863
146,510
147,401
149,320
151,428
153,124
154,287
154,142
153,889
153,617
154,975
155,389
155,922
154,445
154,739
154,765
154,589
154,899
155,088
154,927
154,726
155,060
155,491
155,305
155,553
155,825
155,396
155,026
155,401
155,562
155,761
155,632
155,529
155,548
154,615
155,304
155,047
155,486
155,688
156,180
155,420
155,629
155,700
156,048
156,018
155,845
156,243
156,402
156,129

118,793
117,718
118,492
120,259
123,060
124,900
126,708
129,558
131,463
133,488
136,891
136,933
136,485
137,736
139,252
141,730
144,427
146,047
145,362
139,877
139,064
139,869
142,469
143,929
146,305
141,633
141,911
142,069
141,953
142,231
142,400
142,270
142,277
142,953
143,350
143,279
143,280
143,328
143,429
143,374
143,665
143,890
144,025
144,275
144,288
144,297
143,453
144,490
144,671
145,206
145,301
145,796
145,724
145,868
146,247
146,401
146,451
146,607
147,260
147,331
147,442

3,223
3,269
3,247
3,115
3,409
3,440
3,443
3,399
3,378
3,281
2,464
2,299
2,311
2,275
2,232
2,197
2,206
2,095
2,168
2,103
2,206
2,254
2,186
2,130
2,237
2,206
2,196
2,251
2,215
2,297
2,236
2,223
2,108
2,165
2,152
2,101
2,053
2,053
2,077
2,030
2,059
2,109
2,111
2,188
2,204
2,186
2,171
2,104
2,211
2,171
2,148
2,155
2,167
2,054
2,165
2,161
2,265
2,377
2,402
2,392
2,358

115,570
114,449
115,245
117,144
119,651
121,460
123,264
126,159
128,085
130,207
134,427
134,635
134,174
135,461
137,020
139,532
142,221
143,952
143,194
137,775
136,858
137,615
140,283
141,799
144,068
139,423
139,771
139,847
139,716
139,945
140,156
139,994
140,066
140,819
141,379
141,154
141,229
141,208
141,379
141,291
141,616
141,819
141,900
142,036
141,994
142,134
141,450
142,358
142,460
143,010
143,196
143,560
143,566
143,843
144,078
144,192
144,111
144,254
144,982
144,939
145,101

Civilian
employment/
population
ratio 3

Unemployment
rate,
civilian
workers 4

Percent
7,047
8,628
9,613
8,940
7,996
7,404
7,236
6,739
6,210
5,880
5,692
6,801
8,378
8,774
8,149
7,591
7,001
7,078
8,924
14,265
14,825
13,747
12,506
11,460
9,617
12,812
12,828
12,696
12,636
12,668
12,688
12,657
12,449
12,106
12,141
12,026
12,272
12,497
11,967
11,653
11,735
11,671
11,736
11,357
11,241
11,251
11,161
10,814
10,376
10,280
10,387
10,384
9,696
9,761
9,453
9,648
9,568
9,237
8,983
9,071
8,688

63,324
64,578
64,700
65,638
65,758
66,280
66,647
66,837
67,547
68,385
69,994
71,359
72,707
74,658
75,956
76,762
77,387
78,743
79,501
81,659
83,941
86,001
88,310
90,290
92,025
87,824
87,696
87,839
88,195
88,066
88,068
88,427
88,840
88,713
88,491
88,870
88,797
88,838
89,432
89,969
89,774
89,801
89,791
90,124
90,430
90,620
91,766
91,263
91,698
91,429
91,398
91,077
92,019
91,993
92,114
91,975
92,210
92,601
92,414
92,442
92,898

66.5
66.2
66.4
66.3
66.6
66.6
66.8
67.1
67.1
67.1
67.1
66.8
66.6
66.2
66.0
66.0
66.2
66.0
66.0
65.4
64.7
64.1
63.7
63.2
62.9
63.7
63.8
63.8
63.7
63.8
63.8
63.7
63.5
63.6
63.7
63.6
63.7
63.7
63.5
63.3
63.4
63.4
63.4
63.3
63.2
63.2
62.8
63.0
62.8
63.0
63.0
63.2
62.8
62.8
62.8
62.9
62.9
62.7
62.8
62.9
62.7

62.8
61.7
61.5
61.7
62.5
62.9
63.2
63.8
64.1
64.3
64.4
63.7
62.7
62.3
62.3
62.7
63.1
63.0
62.2
59.3
58.5
58.4
58.6
58.6
59.0
58.5
58.5
58.6
58.5
58.5
58.6
58.5
58.4
58.6
58.8
58.7
58.6
58.6
58.6
58.5
58.6
58.6
58.7
58.7
58.7
58.6
58.2
58.6
58.6
58.8
58.8
59.0
58.9
58.9
59.0
59.0
59.0
59.0
59.2
59.2
59.2

5.6
6.8
7.5
6.9
6.1
5.6
5.4
4.9
4.5
4.2
4.0
4.7
5.8
6.0
5.5
5.1
4.6
4.6
5.8
9.3
9.6
8.9
8.1
7.4
6.2
8.3
8.3
8.2
8.2
8.2
8.2
8.2
8.0
7.8
7.8
7.7
7.9
8.0
7.7
7.5
7.6
7.5
7.5
7.3
7.2
7.2
7.2
7.0
6.7
6.6
6.7
6.6
6.2
6.3
6.1
6.2
6.1
5.9
5.7
5.8
5.6

5 Beginning in 2000, data for agricultural employment are for agricultural and related industries; data for this series and for nonagricultural employment are
not strictly comparable with data for earlier years. Because of independent seasonal adjustment for these two series, monthly data will not add to total civilian
employment.
Note: Labor force data in Tables B–11 through B–13 are based on household interviews and usually relate to the calendar week that includes the 12th of
the month. Historical comparability is affected by revisions to population controls, changes in occupational and industry classification, and other changes to the
survey. In recent years, updated population controls have been introduced annually with the release of January data, so data are not strictly comparable with
earlier periods. Particularly notable changes were introduced for data in the years 1953, 1960, 1962, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1980, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000,
2003, 2008 and 2012. For definitions of terms, area samples used, historical comparability of the data, comparability with other series, etc., see Employment
and Earnings or concepts and methodology of the CPS at http://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#concepts.
Source: Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Labor Market Indicators  | 397

Table B–12. Civilian unemployment rate, 1970–2014
[Percent 1; monthly data seasonally adjusted, except as noted]

Year or month

1970 �������������������
1971 �������������������
1972 �������������������
1973 �������������������
1974 �������������������
1975 �������������������
1976 �������������������
1977 �������������������
1978 �������������������
1979 �������������������
1980 �������������������
1981 �������������������
1982 �������������������
1983 �������������������
1984 �������������������
1985 �������������������
1986 �������������������
1987 �������������������
1988 �������������������
1989 �������������������
1990 �������������������
1991 �������������������
1992 �������������������
1993 �������������������
1994 �������������������
1995 �������������������
1996 �������������������
1997 �������������������
1998 �������������������
1999 �������������������
2000 �������������������
2001 �������������������
2002 �������������������
2003 �������������������
2004 �������������������
2005 �������������������
2006 �������������������
2007 �������������������
2008 �������������������
2009 �������������������
2010 �������������������
2011 �������������������
2012 �������������������
2013 �������������������
2014 �������������������
2013: Jan ����������

      Feb 
����������
      Mar 
���������
      Apr 
����������
      May ��������
�
      June ��������

      July 
���������
      Aug ���������

      Sept ��������

      Oct ����������

      Nov ���������

      Dec ���������
�
2014: Jan ����������

      Feb 
����������
      Mar 
���������
      Apr 
����������
      May ��������
�
      June ��������

      July 
���������
      Aug ���������

      Sept ��������

      Oct ����������

      Nov ���������

      Dec ���������
�

All
civilian
workers
4.9
5.9
5.6
4.9
5.6
8.5
7.7
7.1
6.1
5.8
7.1
7.6
9.7
9.6
7.5
7.2
7.0
6.2
5.5
5.3
5.6
6.8
7.5
6.9
6.1
5.6
5.4
4.9
4.5
4.2
4.0
4.7
5.8
6.0
5.5
5.1
4.6
4.6
5.8
9.3
9.6
8.9
8.1
7.4
6.2
8.0
7.7
7.5
7.6
7.5
7.5
7.3
7.2
7.2
7.2
7.0
6.7
6.6
6.7
6.6
6.2
6.3
6.1
6.2
6.1
5.9
5.7
5.8
5.6

Males
Total
4.4
5.3
5.0
4.2
4.9
7.9
7.1
6.3
5.3
5.1
6.9
7.4
9.9
9.9
7.4
7.0
6.9
6.2
5.5
5.2
5.7
7.2
7.9
7.2
6.2
5.6
5.4
4.9
4.4
4.1
3.9
4.8
5.9
6.3
5.6
5.1
4.6
4.7
6.1
10.3
10.5
9.4
8.2
7.6
6.3
8.2
7.8
7.5
7.8
7.8
7.7
7.7
7.7
7.7
7.6
7.2
6.8
6.8
6.9
6.7
6.4
6.4
6.3
6.2
6.2
5.9
5.6
5.9
5.8

Females

20
16–19 years
years and
over
15.0
16.6
15.9
13.9
15.6
20.1
19.2
17.3
15.8
15.9
18.3
20.1
24.4
23.3
19.6
19.5
19.0
17.8
16.0
15.9
16.3
19.8
21.5
20.4
19.0
18.4
18.1
16.9
16.2
14.7
14.0
16.0
18.1
19.3
18.4
18.6
16.9
17.6
21.2
27.8
28.8
27.2
26.8
25.5
21.4
27.0
27.1
25.8
26.2
26.8
26.9
26.7
24.9
24.0
24.8
23.8
21.3
22.9
24.2
24.0
21.0
20.7
22.7
21.8
21.2
21.8
19.5
17.8
19.2

3.5
4.4
4.0
3.3
3.8
6.8
5.9
5.2
4.3
4.2
5.9
6.3
8.8
8.9
6.6
6.2
6.1
5.4
4.8
4.5
5.0
6.4
7.1
6.4
5.4
4.8
4.6
4.2
3.7
3.5
3.3
4.2
5.3
5.6
5.0
4.4
4.0
4.1
5.4
9.6
9.8
8.7
7.5
7.0
5.7
7.5
7.0
6.9
7.1
7.1
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.1
6.9
6.7
6.3
6.3
6.3
6.0
5.9
5.9
5.7
5.7
5.7
5.3
5.1
5.4
5.3

Total
5.9
6.9
6.6
6.0
6.7
9.3
8.6
8.2
7.2
6.8
7.4
7.9
9.4
9.2
7.6
7.4
7.1
6.2
5.6
5.4
5.5
6.4
7.0
6.6
6.0
5.6
5.4
5.0
4.6
4.3
4.1
4.7
5.6
5.7
5.4
5.1
4.6
4.5
5.4
8.1
8.6
8.5
7.9
7.1
6.1
7.8
7.6
7.5
7.3
7.1
7.3
6.9
6.7
6.7
6.8
6.6
6.5
6.4
6.4
6.6
6.1
6.2
5.9
6.1
6.1
6.0
5.9
5.7
5.3

20
16–19 years
years and
over
15.6
17.2
16.7
15.3
16.6
19.7
18.7
18.3
17.1
16.4
17.2
19.0
21.9
21.3
18.0
17.6
17.6
15.9
14.4
14.0
14.7
17.5
18.6
17.5
16.2
16.1
15.2
15.0
12.9
13.2
12.1
13.4
14.9
15.6
15.5
14.5
13.8
13.8
16.2
20.7
22.8
21.7
21.1
20.3
17.7
20.8
23.2
22.5
22.0
21.5
19.5
19.6
20.1
18.0
19.4
18.2
19.5
18.8
18.5
17.7
17.2
17.7
18.7
18.2
17.6
17.8
17.8
17.2
14.2

4.8
5.7
5.4
4.9
5.5
8.0
7.4
7.0
6.0
5.7
6.4
6.8
8.3
8.1
6.8
6.6
6.2
5.4
4.9
4.7
4.9
5.7
6.3
5.9
5.4
4.9
4.8
4.4
4.1
3.8
3.6
4.1
5.1
5.1
4.9
4.6
4.1
4.0
4.9
7.5
8.0
7.9
7.3
6.5
5.6
7.3
7.0
6.9
6.7
6.5
6.8
6.4
6.2
6.2
6.3
6.2
6.0
5.9
5.9
6.2
5.7
5.7
5.3
5.7
5.6
5.5
5.4
5.2
5.0

Both
sexes
16–19
2
years White
15.3
16.9
16.2
14.5
16.0
19.9
19.0
17.8
16.4
16.1
17.8
19.6
23.2
22.4
18.9
18.6
18.3
16.9
15.3
15.0
15.5
18.7
20.1
19.0
17.6
17.3
16.7
16.0
14.6
13.9
13.1
14.7
16.5
17.5
17.0
16.6
15.4
15.7
18.7
24.3
25.9
24.4
24.0
22.9
19.6
23.9
25.2
24.1
24.1
24.2
23.3
23.2
22.5
21.1
22.2
20.9
20.4
20.8
21.3
20.9
19.1
19.2
20.7
20.0
19.4
19.8
18.7
17.5
16.8

4.5
5.4
5.1
4.3
5.0
7.8
7.0
6.2
5.2
5.1
6.3
6.7
8.6
8.4
6.5
6.2
6.0
5.3
4.7
4.5
4.8
6.1
6.6
6.1
5.3
4.9
4.7
4.2
3.9
3.7
3.5
4.2
5.1
5.2
4.8
4.4
4.0
4.1
5.2
8.5
8.7
7.9
7.2
6.5
5.3
7.1
6.8
6.7
6.7
6.7
6.6
6.5
6.4
6.3
6.3
6.1
6.0
5.7
5.8
5.7
5.3
5.4
5.3
5.3
5.3
5.1
4.9
4.9
4.8

By race
Black Black or
and African Asian 2
other 2 American 2

Hispanic Married Women
or
who
men,
Latino spouse maintain
ethnic- present famiity 3
lies 4

8.2 ������������ ������������ ������������
9.9 ������������ ������������ ������������
10.0
10.4 ������������ ������������
9.0
9.4 ������������
7.5
9.9
10.5 ������������
8.1
13.8
14.8 ������������
12.2
13.1
14.0 ������������
11.5
13.1
14.0 ������������
10.1
11.9
12.8 ������������
9.1
11.3
12.3 ������������
8.3
13.1
14.3 ������������
10.1
14.2
15.6 ������������
10.4
17.3
18.9 ������������
13.8
17.8
19.5 ������������
13.7
14.4
15.9 ������������
10.7
13.7
15.1 ������������
10.5
13.1
14.5 ������������
10.6
11.6
13.0 ������������
8.8
10.4
11.7 ������������
8.2
10.0
11.4 ������������
8.0
10.1
11.4 ������������
8.2
11.1
12.5 ������������
10.0
12.7
14.2 ������������
11.6
11.7
13.0 ������������
10.8
10.5
11.5 ������������
9.9
9.6
10.4 ������������
9.3
9.3
10.5 ������������
8.9
8.8
10.0 ������������
7.7
7.8
8.9 ������������
7.2
7.0
8.0 ������������
6.4
������������
7.6
3.6
5.7
������������
8.6
4.5
6.6
������������
10.2
5.9
7.5
������������
10.8
6.0
7.7
������������
10.4
4.4
7.0
������������
10.0
4.0
6.0
������������
8.9
3.0
5.2
������������
8.3
3.2
5.6
������������
10.1
4.0
7.6
������������
14.8
7.3
12.1
������������
16.0
7.5
12.5
������������
15.8
7.0
11.5
������������
13.8
5.9
10.3
������������
13.1
5.2
9.1
������������
11.3
5.0
7.4
������������
13.7
6.4
9.7
������������
13.9
6.0
9.6
������������
13.1
5.0
9.3
������������
13.1
5.3
9.2
������������
13.4
4.5
9.0
������������
13.8
4.7
9.0
������������
12.4
5.4
9.3
������������
13.0
5.2
9.2
������������
13.1
5.4
9.0
������������
13.0
5.3
9.0
������������
12.4
5.2
8.7
������������
11.8
4.1
8.4
������������
12.1
4.8
8.3
������������
12.0
5.9
8.1
������������
12.2
5.4
7.9
������������
11.4
5.9
7.5
������������
11.4
5.6
7.7
������������
10.7
4.8
7.6
������������
11.4
4.2
7.6
������������
11.6
4.6
7.4
������������
11.0
4.5
7.0
������������
10.9
5.0
6.8
������������
11.0
4.7
6.6
������������
10.4
4.2
6.5

2.6
3.2
2.8
2.3
2.7
5.1
4.2
3.6
2.8
2.8
4.2
4.3
6.5
6.5
4.6
4.3
4.4
3.9
3.3
3.0
3.4
4.4
5.1
4.4
3.7
3.3
3.0
2.7
2.4
2.2
2.0
2.7
3.6
3.8
3.1
2.8
2.4
2.5
3.4
6.6
6.8
5.8
4.9
4.3
3.4
4.6
4.5
4.2
4.4
4.4
4.3
4.3
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.2
3.9
3.8
3.8
3.7
3.5
3.3
3.4
3.3
3.2
2.9
3.0
3.2
3.0

1 Unemployed as percent of civilian labor force in group specified.
2 Beginning in 2003, persons who selected this race group only. Prior to 2003, persons who selected more than one race were included in the group they

5.4
7.3
7.2
7.1
7.0
10.0
10.1
9.4
8.5
8.3
9.2
10.4
11.7
12.2
10.3
10.4
9.8
9.2
8.1
8.1
8.3
9.3
10.0
9.7
8.9
8.0
8.2
8.1
7.2
6.4
5.9
6.6
8.0
8.5
8.0
7.8
7.1
6.5
8.0
11.5
12.3
12.4
11.4
10.2
8.6
11.3
11.0
10.7
10.3
9.9
10.7
10.5
11.0
8.8
9.5
9.7
8.7
9.1
9.1
9.0
8.5
8.4
8.1
9.1
9.3
8.3
8.7
8.2
7.8

identified as the main race. Data for “black or African American” were for “black” prior to 2003. Data discontinued for “black and other” series. See Employment
and Earnings or concepts and methodology of the CPS at http://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#concepts for details.
3 Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.
4 Not seasonally adjusted.
Note: Data relate to persons 16 years of age and over.
See Note, Table B–11.
Source: Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

398  |  Appendix B

Table B–13. Unemployment by duration and reason, 1970–2014
[Thousands of persons, except as noted; monthly data seasonally adjusted 1]
Duration of unemployment
Year or month

1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 ����������������������
2013: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�
2014: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�

Unemployment
4,093
5,016
4,882
4,365
5,156
7,929
7,406
6,991
6,202
6,137
7,637
8,273
10,678
10,717
8,539
8,312
8,237
7,425
6,701
6,528
7,047
8,628
9,613
8,940
7,996
7,404
7,236
6,739
6,210
5,880
5,692
6,801
8,378
8,774
8,149
7,591
7,001
7,078
8,924
14,265
14,825
13,747
12,506
11,460
9,617
12,497
11,967
11,653
11,735
11,671
11,736
11,357
11,241
11,251
11,161
10,814
10,376
10,280
10,387
10,384
9,696
9,761
9,453
9,648
9,568
9,237
8,983
9,071
8,688

Less
than 5
weeks
2,139
2,245
2,242
2,224
2,604
2,940
2,844
2,919
2,865
2,950
3,295
3,449
3,883
3,570
3,350
3,498
3,448
3,246
3,084
3,174
3,265
3,480
3,376
3,262
2,728
2,700
2,633
2,538
2,622
2,568
2,558
2,853
2,893
2,785
2,696
2,667
2,614
2,542
2,932
3,165
2,771
2,677
2,644
2,584
2,471
2,757
2,712
2,478
2,502
2,664
2,679
2,507
2,477
2,609
2,798
2,420
2,323
2,449
2,388
2,477
2,451
2,553
2,423
2,583
2,609
2,372
2,455
2,505
2,375

5–14
weeks
1,290
1,585
1,472
1,314
1,597
2,484
2,196
2,132
1,923
1,946
2,470
2,539
3,311
2,937
2,451
2,509
2,557
2,196
2,007
1,978
2,257
2,791
2,830
2,584
2,408
2,342
2,287
2,138
1,950
1,832
1,815
2,196
2,580
2,612
2,382
2,304
2,121
2,232
2,804
3,828
3,267
2,993
2,866
2,759
2,432
3,107
2,769
2,840
2,870
2,666
2,852
2,790
2,725
2,657
2,659
2,581
2,525
2,428
2,558
2,584
2,346
2,401
2,418
2,435
2,444
2,495
2,322
2,378
2,293

15–26
weeks
428
668
601
483
574
1,303
1,018
913
766
706
1,052
1,122
1,708
1,652
1,104
1,025
1,045
943
801
730
822
1,246
1,453
1,297
1,237
1,085
1,053
995
763
755
669
951
1,369
1,442
1,293
1,130
1,031
1,061
1,427
2,775
2,371
2,061
1,859
1,807
1,497
1,862
1,723
1,773
1,934
1,962
1,917
1,791
1,712
1,817
1,772
1,719
1,680
1,699
1,597
1,669
1,509
1,451
1,516
1,423
1,500
1,423
1,416
1,403
1,274

27
weeks
and
over
235
519
566
343
381
1,203
1,348
1,028
648
535
820
1,162
1,776
2,559
1,634
1,280
1,187
1,040
809
646
703
1,111
1,954
1,798
1,623
1,278
1,262
1,067
875
725
649
801
1,535
1,936
1,779
1,490
1,235
1,243
1,761
4,496
6,415
6,016
5,136
4,310
3,218
4,683
4,695
4,531
4,381
4,349
4,352
4,269
4,297
4,138
4,046
4,059
3,877
3,628
3,804
3,682
3,413
3,351
3,076
3,166
2,966
2,951
2,904
2,822
2,785

Reason for unemployment

Average Median
(mean)
duration duration
(weeks) 2 (weeks)
8.6
11.3
12.0
10.0
9.8
14.2
15.8
14.3
11.9
10.8
11.9
13.7
15.6
20.0
18.2
15.6
15.0
14.5
13.5
11.9
12.0
13.7
17.7
18.0
18.8
16.6
16.7
15.8
14.5
13.4
12.6
13.1
16.6
19.2
19.6
18.4
16.8
16.8
17.9
24.4
33.0
39.3
39.4
36.5
33.7
35.5
36.7
36.9
36.5
36.9
35.9
37.1
37.4
37.2
35.5
36.8
36.8
35.3
36.9
35.2
34.8
34.3
33.3
32.5
31.9
31.8
32.9
33.0
32.8

4.9
6.3
6.2
5.2
5.2
8.4
8.2
7.0
5.9
5.4
6.5
6.9
8.7
10.1
7.9
6.8
6.9
6.5
5.9
4.8
5.3
6.8
8.7
8.3
9.2
8.3
8.3
8.0
6.7
6.4
5.9
6.8
9.1
10.1
9.8
8.9
8.3
8.5
9.4
15.1
21.4
21.4
19.3
17.0
14.0
16.2
17.5
17.7
17.1
17.0
16.6
16.3
16.8
16.5
16.1
17.0
17.0
15.9
16.2
15.9
15.6
14.5
13.2
13.5
13.3
13.3
13.5
12.8
12.6

Job losers 3
Total
1,811
2,323
2,108
1,694
2,242
4,386
3,679
3,166
2,585
2,635
3,947
4,267
6,268
6,258
4,421
4,139
4,033
3,566
3,092
2,983
3,387
4,694
5,389
4,848
3,815
3,476
3,370
3,037
2,822
2,622
2,517
3,476
4,607
4,838
4,197
3,667
3,321
3,515
4,789
9,160
9,250
8,106
6,877
6,073
4,878
6,627
6,443
6,260
6,329
6,111
6,087
5,897
5,909
5,857
6,214
5,762
5,421
5,354
5,403
5,416
5,153
4,959
4,791
4,830
4,813
4,521
4,349
4,480
4,325

On
layoff
675
735
582
472
746
1,671
1,050
865
712
851
1,488
1,430
2,127
1,780
1,171
1,157
1,090
943
851
850
1,028
1,292
1,260
1,115
977
1,030
1,021
931
866
848
852
1,067
1,124
1,121
998
933
921
976
1,176
1,630
1,431
1,230
1,183
1,136
1,007
1,183
1,095
1,114
1,183
989
1,180
1,182
1,019
1,106
1,524
1,118
1,014
996
1,037
1,046
1,014
1,002
1,031
992
1,106
924
847
1,070
959

Other
1,137
1,588
1,526
1,221
1,495
2,714
2,628
2,300
1,873
1,784
2,459
2,837
4,141
4,478
3,250
2,982
2,943
2,623
2,241
2,133
2,359
3,402
4,129
3,733
2,838
2,446
2,349
2,106
1,957
1,774
1,664
2,409
3,483
3,717
3,199
2,734
2,400
2,539
3,614
7,530
7,819
6,876
5,694
4,937
3,871
5,444
5,348
5,147
5,145
5,122
4,906
4,715
4,890
4,750
4,690
4,643
4,408
4,359
4,366
4,370
4,139
3,958
3,760
3,838
3,708
3,597
3,501
3,410
3,366

Job
ReNew
leavers entrants entrants
550
590
641
683
768
827
903
909
874
880
891
923
840
830
823
877
1,015
965
983
1,024
1,041
1,004
1,002
976
791
824
774
795
734
783
780
835
866
818
858
872
827
793
896
882
889
956
967
932
824
1,000
957
983
873
933
1,024
961
877
978
859
880
860
815
816
807
786
872
848
857
851
816
782
835
798

1,228
1,472
1,456
1,340
1,463
1,892
1,928
1,963
1,857
1,806
1,927
2,102
2,384
2,412
2,184
2,256
2,160
1,974
1,809
1,843
1,930
2,139
2,285
2,198
2,786
2,525
2,512
2,338
2,132
2,005
1,961
2,031
2,368
2,477
2,408
2,386
2,237
2,142
2,472
3,187
3,466
3,401
3,345
3,207
2,829
3,550
3,309
3,163
3,194
3,317
3,300
3,218
3,105
3,157
3,064
3,047
3,027
2,911
2,972
3,027
2,631
2,869
2,701
2,860
2,845
2,805
2,856
2,761
2,701

504
630
677
649
681
823
895
953
885
817
872
981
1,185
1,216
1,110
1,039
1,029
920
816
677
688
792
937
919
604
579
580
569
520
469
434
459
536
641
686
666
616
627
766
1,035
1,220
1,284
1,316
1,247
1,086
1,283
1,271
1,296
1,276
1,270
1,259
1,244
1,302
1,199
1,212
1,154
1,198
1,181
1,232
1,157
1,052
1,063
1,059
1,080
1,064
1,094
1,058
1,045
971

1 Because of independent seasonal adjustment of the various series, detail will not sum to totals.
2 Beginning with January 2011, includes unemployment durations of up to 5 years; prior data are for up to 2 years.
3 Beginning with January 1994, job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs.

Note: Data relate to persons 16 years of age and over.
See Note, Table B–11.
Source: Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Labor Market Indicators  | 399

Table B–14. Employees on nonagricultural payrolls, by major industry, 1970–2014
[Thousands of jobs; monthly data seasonally adjusted]
Private industries

Year or month

1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ����������������������
1998 ����������������������
1999 ����������������������
2000 ����������������������
2001 ����������������������
2002 ����������������������
2003 ����������������������
2004 ����������������������
2005 ����������������������
2006 ����������������������
2007 ����������������������
2008 ����������������������
2009 ����������������������
2010 ����������������������
2011 ����������������������
2012 ����������������������
2013 ����������������������
2014 p ��������������������
2013: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec ������������
�
2014: Jan �������������

      Feb 
�������������
      Mar 
������������
      Apr 
�������������
      May �����������
�
      June �����������

      July 
������������
      Aug ������������

      Sept �����������

      Oct �������������

      Nov ������������

      Dec p ����������

Total
nonagricultural
employment

71,006
71,335
73,798
76,912
78,389
77,069
79,502
82,593
86,826
89,933
90,533
91,297
89,689
90,295
94,548
97,532
99,500
102,116
105,378
108,051
109,527
108,427
108,802
110,935
114,398
117,407
119,836
122,951
126,157
129,240
132,019
132,074
130,628
130,318
131,749
134,005
136,398
137,936
137,170
131,233
130,275
131,842
134,104
136,393
139,042
135,293
135,607
135,722
135,909
136,128
136,255
136,419
136,675
136,825
137,050
137,367
137,476
137,642
137,830
138,055
138,385
138,621
138,907
139,156
139,369
139,619
139,840
140,263
140,592

Goods-producing industries
Total
private

58,318
58,323
60,333
63,050
64,086
62,250
64,501
67,334
71,014
73,865
74,158
75,117
73,706
74,284
78,389
81,000
82,661
84,960
87,838
90,124
91,112
89,881
90,015
91,946
95,124
97,975
100,297
103,287
106,248
108,933
111,230
110,956
109,115
108,735
110,128
112,201
114,424
115,718
114,661
108,678
107,785
109,756
112,184
114,541
117,179
113,416
113,713
113,852
114,046
114,271
114,443
114,605
114,818
114,986
115,221
115,524
115,648
115,831
116,006
116,229
116,542
116,780
117,052
117,295
117,504
117,739
117,957
118,371
118,691

Total

22,179
21,602
22,299
23,450
23,364
21,318
22,025
22,972
24,156
24,997
24,263
24,118
22,550
22,110
23,435
23,585
23,318
23,470
23,909
24,045
23,723
22,588
22,095
22,219
22,774
23,156
23,409
23,886
24,354
24,465
24,649
23,873
22,557
21,816
21,882
22,190
22,530
22,233
21,335
18,558
17,751
18,047
18,420
18,738
19,223
18,581
18,660
18,681
18,676
18,700
18,722
18,698
18,741
18,781
18,827
18,896
18,894
18,984
19,031
19,073
19,131
19,156
19,190
19,243
19,277
19,315
19,349
19,425
19,498

Mining
and
logging
677
658
672
693
755
802
832
865
902
1,008
1,077
1,180
1,163
997
1,014
974
829
771
770
750
765
739
689
666
659
641
637
654
645
598
599
606
583
572
591
628
684
724
767
694
705
788
848
863
896
855
860
860
857
860
861
861
864
866
869
871
871
876
877
880
886
888
892
900
903
910
911
912
915

Private service-providing industries
Trade, transportation,
and utilities 1

Manufacturing
Construction

3,654
3,770
3,957
4,167
4,095
3,608
3,662
3,940
4,322
4,562
4,454
4,304
4,024
4,065
4,501
4,793
4,937
5,090
5,233
5,309
5,263
4,780
4,608
4,779
5,095
5,274
5,536
5,813
6,149
6,545
6,787
6,826
6,716
6,735
6,976
7,336
7,691
7,630
7,162
6,016
5,518
5,533
5,646
5,856
6,138
5,746
5,798
5,815
5,813
5,833
5,856
5,854
5,866
5,893
5,918
5,953
5,937
6,006
6,032
6,062
6,103
6,114
6,121
6,152
6,169
6,191
6,201
6,231
6,275

Total
17,848
17,174
17,669
18,589
18,514
16,909
17,531
18,167
18,932
19,426
18,733
18,634
17,363
17,048
17,920
17,819
17,552
17,609
17,906
17,985
17,695
17,068
16,799
16,774
17,020
17,241
17,237
17,419
17,560
17,322
17,263
16,441
15,259
14,509
14,315
14,227
14,155
13,879
13,406
11,847
11,528
11,726
11,927
12,020
12,188
11,980
12,002
12,006
12,006
12,007
12,005
11,983
12,011
12,022
12,040
12,072
12,086
12,102
12,122
12,131
12,142
12,154
12,177
12,191
12,205
12,214
12,237
12,282
12,308

Durable
goods
10,762
10,229
10,630
11,414
11,432
10,266
10,640
11,132
11,770
12,220
11,679
11,611
10,610
10,326
11,050
11,034
10,795
10,767
10,969
11,004
10,737
10,220
9,946
9,901
10,132
10,373
10,486
10,705
10,911
10,831
10,877
10,336
9,485
8,964
8,925
8,956
8,981
8,808
8,463
7,284
7,064
7,273
7,470
7,548
7,685
7,516
7,527
7,535
7,537
7,537
7,538
7,513
7,545
7,559
7,570
7,587
7,593
7,597
7,614
7,628
7,640
7,659
7,678
7,693
7,709
7,719
7,740
7,768
7,789

Nondurable
goods
7,086
6,944
7,039
7,176
7,082
6,643
6,891
7,035
7,162
7,206
7,054
7,023
6,753
6,722
6,870
6,784
6,757
6,842
6,938
6,981
6,958
6,848
6,853
6,872
6,889
6,868
6,751
6,714
6,649
6,491
6,386
6,105
5,774
5,546
5,390
5,271
5,174
5,071
4,943
4,564
4,464
4,453
4,457
4,472
4,503
4,464
4,475
4,471
4,469
4,470
4,467
4,470
4,466
4,463
4,470
4,485
4,493
4,505
4,508
4,503
4,502
4,495
4,499
4,498
4,496
4,495
4,497
4,514
4,519

Total
Total
36,139
36,721
38,034
39,600
40,721
40,932
42,476
44,362
46,858
48,869
49,895
50,999
51,156
52,174
54,954
57,415
59,343
61,490
63,929
66,079
67,389
67,293
67,921
69,727
72,350
74,819
76,888
79,401
81,894
84,468
86,581
87,083
86,558
86,918
88,246
90,010
91,894
93,485
93,326
90,121
90,034
91,708
93,763
95,803
97,956
94,835
95,053
95,171
95,370
95,571
95,721
95,907
96,077
96,205
96,394
96,628
96,754
96,847
96,975
97,156
97,411
97,624
97,862
98,052
98,227
98,424
98,608
98,946
99,193

14,144
14,318
14,788
15,349
15,693
15,606
16,128
16,765
17,658
18,303
18,413
18,604
18,457
18,668
19,653
20,379
20,795
21,302
21,974
22,510
22,666
22,281
22,125
22,378
23,128
23,834
24,239
24,700
25,186
25,771
26,225
25,983
25,497
25,287
25,533
25,959
26,276
26,630
26,293
24,906
24,636
25,065
25,476
25,862
26,383
25,683
25,699
25,690
25,723
25,756
25,800
25,836
25,899
25,966
26,001
26,065
26,159
26,155
26,141
26,190
26,260
26,297
26,362
26,413
26,427
26,467
26,517
26,615
26,669

Retail
trade
7,463
7,657
8,038
8,371
8,536
8,600
8,966
9,359
9,879
10,180
10,244
10,364
10,372
10,635
11,223
11,733
12,078
12,419
12,808
13,108
13,182
12,896
12,828
13,021
13,491
13,897
14,143
14,389
14,609
14,970
15,280
15,239
15,025
14,917
15,058
15,280
15,353
15,520
15,283
14,522
14,440
14,668
14,841
15,079
15,364
14,939
14,956
14,951
14,973
15,004
15,043
15,084
15,120
15,150
15,185
15,217
15,274
15,257
15,238
15,265
15,308
15,318
15,357
15,382
15,379
15,410
15,436
15,498
15,505

1 Includes wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and utilities, not shown separately.

Note: Data in Tables B–14 and B–15 are based on reports from employing establishments and relate to full- and part-time wage and salary workers in
nonagricultural establishments who received pay for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Not comparable with labor force data
(Tables B–11 through B–13), which include proprietors, self-employed persons, unpaid family workers, and private household workers; which count persons as
See next page for continuation of table.

400  |  Appendix B

Table B–14. Employees on nonagricultural payrolls, by major industry,
1970–2014—Continued
[Thousands of jobs; monthly data seasonally adjusted]
Private industries—Continued

Government

Private service-providing industries—Continued
Year or month
Information
1970 ���������������������������������
1971 ���������������������������������
1972 ���������������������������������
1973 ���������������������������������
1974 ���������������������������������
1975 ���������������������������������
1976 ���������������������������������
1977 ���������������������������������
1978 ���������������������������������
1979 ���������������������������������
1980 ���������������������������������
1981 ���������������������������������
1982 ���������������������������������
1983 ���������������������������������
1984 ���������������������������������
1985 ���������������������������������
1986 ���������������������������������
1987 ���������������������������������
1988 ���������������������������������
1989 ���������������������������������
1990 ���������������������������������
1991 ���������������������������������
1992 ���������������������������������
1993 ���������������������������������
1994 ���������������������������������
1995 ���������������������������������
1996 ���������������������������������
1997 ���������������������������������
1998 ���������������������������������
1999 ���������������������������������
2000 ���������������������������������
2001 ���������������������������������
2002 ���������������������������������
2003 ���������������������������������
2004 ���������������������������������
2005 ���������������������������������
2006 ���������������������������������
2007 ���������������������������������
2008 ���������������������������������
2009 ���������������������������������
2010 ���������������������������������
2011 ���������������������������������
2012 ���������������������������������
2013 ���������������������������������
2014 p �������������������������������
2013: Jan ������������������������

      Feb 
������������������������
      Mar 
�����������������������
      Apr 
������������������������
      May ����������������������
�
      June ����������������������

      July 
�����������������������
      Aug �����������������������

      Sept ����������������������

      Oct ������������������������

      Nov �����������������������

      Dec �����������������������
�
2014: Jan ������������������������

      Feb 
������������������������
      Mar 
�����������������������
      Apr 
������������������������
      May ����������������������
�
      June ����������������������

      July 
�����������������������
      Aug �����������������������

      Sept ����������������������

      Oct ������������������������

      Nov �����������������������

      Dec p ���������������������

2,041
2,009
2,056
2,135
2,160
2,061
2,111
2,185
2,287
2,375
2,361
2,382
2,317
2,253
2,398
2,437
2,445
2,507
2,585
2,622
2,688
2,677
2,641
2,668
2,738
2,843
2,940
3,084
3,218
3,419
3,630
3,629
3,395
3,188
3,118
3,061
3,038
3,032
2,984
2,804
2,707
2,674
2,676
2,706
2,740
2,668
2,700
2,699
2,698
2,710
2,707
2,718
2,691
2,709
2,721
2,728
2,724
2,724
2,720
2,723
2,728
2,723
2,735
2,740
2,753
2,757
2,754
2,761
2,765

Financial
activities
3,532
3,651
3,784
3,920
4,023
4,047
4,155
4,348
4,599
4,843
5,025
5,163
5,209
5,334
5,553
5,815
6,128
6,385
6,500
6,562
6,614
6,561
6,559
6,742
6,910
6,866
7,018
7,255
7,565
7,753
7,783
7,900
7,956
8,078
8,105
8,197
8,367
8,348
8,206
7,838
7,695
7,697
7,784
7,886
7,980
7,838
7,851
7,857
7,869
7,882
7,888
7,905
7,901
7,900
7,909
7,912
7,914
7,918
7,931
7,933
7,942
7,951
7,968
7,984
7,997
8,007
8,014
8,042
8,051

Professional and
business
services

Education
and
health
services

Leisure
and
hospitality

5,267
5,328
5,523
5,774
5,974
6,034
6,287
6,587
6,972
7,312
7,544
7,782
7,848
8,039
8,464
8,871
9,211
9,608
10,090
10,555
10,848
10,714
10,970
11,495
12,174
12,844
13,462
14,335
15,147
15,957
16,666
16,476
15,976
15,987
16,394
16,954
17,566
17,942
17,735
16,579
16,728
17,332
17,932
18,515
19,096
18,217
18,306
18,361
18,422
18,490
18,526
18,569
18,600
18,625
18,671
18,737
18,735
18,771
18,840
18,879
18,951
19,005
19,079
19,124
19,180
19,231
19,271
19,367
19,447

4,577
4,675
4,863
5,092
5,322
5,497
5,756
6,052
6,427
6,768
7,077
7,364
7,526
7,781
8,211
8,679
9,086
9,543
10,096
10,652
11,024
11,556
11,948
12,362
12,872
13,360
13,761
14,185
14,570
14,939
15,247
15,801
16,377
16,805
17,192
17,630
18,099
18,613
19,156
19,550
19,889
20,228
20,698
21,097
21,474
20,937
20,954
20,999
21,049
21,066
21,067
21,102
21,162
21,162
21,188
21,231
21,230
21,249
21,279
21,314
21,353
21,409
21,452
21,497
21,539
21,585
21,613
21,664
21,712

4,789
4,914
5,121
5,341
5,471
5,544
5,794
6,065
6,411
6,631
6,721
6,840
6,874
7,078
7,489
7,869
8,156
8,446
8,778
9,062
9,288
9,256
9,437
9,732
10,100
10,501
10,777
11,018
11,232
11,543
11,862
12,036
11,986
12,173
12,493
12,816
13,110
13,427
13,436
13,077
13,049
13,353
13,768
14,254
14,710
14,035
14,085
14,115
14,153
14,196
14,253
14,293
14,332
14,342
14,395
14,442
14,466
14,494
14,526
14,565
14,610
14,667
14,698
14,721
14,746
14,795
14,850
14,892
14,939

Other
services
1,789
1,827
1,900
1,990
2,078
2,144
2,244
2,359
2,505
2,637
2,755
2,865
2,924
3,021
3,186
3,366
3,523
3,699
3,907
4,116
4,261
4,249
4,240
4,350
4,428
4,572
4,690
4,825
4,976
5,087
5,168
5,258
5,372
5,401
5,409
5,395
5,438
5,494
5,515
5,367
5,331
5,360
5,430
5,483
5,573
5,457
5,458
5,450
5,456
5,471
5,480
5,484
5,492
5,501
5,509
5,513
5,526
5,536
5,538
5,552
5,567
5,572
5,568
5,573
5,585
5,582
5,589
5,605
5,610

Total

12,687
13,012
13,465
13,862
14,303
14,820
15,001
15,258
15,812
16,068
16,375
16,180
15,982
16,011
16,159
16,533
16,838
17,156
17,540
17,927
18,415
18,545
18,787
18,989
19,275
19,432
19,539
19,664
19,909
20,307
20,790
21,118
21,513
21,583
21,621
21,804
21,974
22,218
22,509
22,555
22,490
22,086
21,920
21,853
21,863
21,877
21,894
21,870
21,863
21,857
21,812
21,814
21,857
21,839
21,829
21,843
21,828
21,811
21,824
21,826
21,843
21,841
21,855
21,861
21,865
21,880
21,883
21,892
21,901

Federal

2,865
2,828
2,815
2,794
2,858
2,882
2,863
2,859
2,893
2,894
3,000
2,922
2,884
2,915
2,943
3,014
3,044
3,089
3,124
3,136
3,196
3,110
3,111
3,063
3,018
2,949
2,877
2,806
2,772
2,769
2,865
2,764
2,766
2,761
2,730
2,732
2,732
2,734
2,762
2,832
2,977
2,859
2,820
2,769
2,728
2,807
2,811
2,792
2,794
2,776
2,769
2,760
2,752
2,750
2,741
2,744
2,743
2,731
2,730
2,727
2,726
2,726
2,726
2,724
2,727
2,725
2,720
2,729
2,731

State

2,664
2,747
2,859
2,923
3,039
3,179
3,273
3,377
3,474
3,541
3,610
3,640
3,640
3,662
3,734
3,832
3,893
3,967
4,076
4,182
4,305
4,355
4,408
4,488
4,576
4,635
4,606
4,582
4,612
4,709
4,786
4,905
5,029
5,002
4,982
5,032
5,075
5,122
5,177
5,169
5,137
5,078
5,055
5,046
5,061
5,033
5,046
5,054
5,049
5,049
5,034
5,027
5,044
5,049
5,052
5,058
5,056
5,053
5,061
5,057
5,060
5,054
5,057
5,051
5,042
5,062
5,067
5,072
5,080

Local

7,158
7,437
7,790
8,146
8,407
8,758
8,865
9,023
9,446
9,633
9,765
9,619
9,458
9,434
9,482
9,687
9,901
10,100
10,339
10,609
10,914
11,081
11,267
11,438
11,682
11,849
12,056
12,276
12,525
12,829
13,139
13,449
13,718
13,820
13,909
14,041
14,167
14,362
14,571
14,554
14,376
14,150
14,045
14,037
14,074
14,037
14,037
14,024
14,020
14,032
14,009
14,027
14,061
14,040
14,036
14,041
14,029
14,027
14,033
14,042
14,057
14,061
14,072
14,086
14,096
14,093
14,096
14,091
14,090

Note (cont’d): employed when they are not at work because of industrial disputes, bad weather, etc., even if they are not paid for the time off; which are
based on a sample of the working-age population; and which count persons only once—as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force. In the data shown
here, persons who work at more than one job are counted each time they appear on a payroll.
Establishment data for employment, hours, and earnings are classified based on the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
For further description and details see Employment and Earnings.
Source: Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Labor Market Indicators  | 401

Table B–15. Hours and earnings in private nonagricultural industries, 1970–2014 1
[Monthly data seasonally adjusted]
Average weekly hours
Year or month

1970 ����������������������
1971 ����������������������
1972 ����������������������
1973 ����������������������
1974 ����������������������
1975 ����������������������
1976 ����������������������
1977 ����������������������
1978 ����������������������
1979 ����������������������
1980 ����������������������
1981 ����������������������
1982 ����������������������
1983 ����������������������
1984 ����������������������
1985 ����������������������
1986 ����������������������
1987 ����������������������
1988 ����������������������
1989 ����������������������
1990 ����������������������
1991 ����������������������
1992 ����������������������
1993 ����������������������
1994 ����������������������
1995 ����������������������
1996 ����������������������
1997 ������