[Journal:] IZA Journal of Labor Policy [ISSN:] 2193-9004 [Volume:] 4 [Year:] 2015 [Pages:] 1-28
Unemployment increased drastically over the course of the Great Recession from 4.5 percent prior to the recession to 10 percent at its peak in October 2009. Since then, the unemployment rate has come down steadily, and it stood at 5.8 percent in November 2014. Based on existing analyses and some new evidence, this paper establishes that much of the change in unemployment during the Great Recession and during the recovery can be attributed to cyclical factors rather than structural factors. The paper then presents new suggestive evidence to quantify the employment impacts of various counter-cyclical policies introduced during this time. We conduct a counter-factual and find that employment would have been between 4.2 percent and 4.5 percent lower had it not been because of the spending in Medicaid injected in local economies by the Recovery Act. In addition, we conduct a differences-in-differences and triple difference analysis, which suggests that the Work Opportunity Tax Credits increased the likelihood of employment by about 4.7 percent for disconnected youth but had no effect on disabled and unemployed veterans. Finally, we also find evidence that suggests that the Hiring Incentive to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act increased employment of the unemployed by 2.6 percent and that the reemployment reforms introduced in 2012 as part of the UI extensions increased employment by 6 percent for the long-term unemployed.