Understanding the Unemployment Picture: Welcoming Remarks

November 20, 2011

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis held the third and final discussion of its fall evening discussion series for the general public on Nov. 21, 2011. Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president of Banking Supervision and Regulation, gives welcoming remarks and introduces the speaker, Christopher Waller, the Bank's senior vice president and director of research. As part of his presentation, "Understanding the Unemployment Picture," Waller provides an overview of unemployment in the United States, and references the St. Louis Fed's 2010 annual report essay, "Many Moving Parts: A Look Inside the U.S. Labor Market".


Julie Stackhouse: Good evening, everyone. We have hit the magic hour of 7 o'clock, so we'll go ahead and get started, even though we have a few people still joining us in the main room tonight. So I'm Julie Stackhouse, and it's my pleasure to welcome you here to the third in our series of three fall Dialogue with the Fed series, and this welcome is on behalf of Jim Bullard and all the rest of us here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Tonight I'd like to offer a special welcome as well to those participating by webcast. For those of you that saw the little plug in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, this particular session was noted as an upcoming feature of the week. So we're not quite sure who we have watching us virtually, but hope those that are watching virtually enjoy it as much as I'm sure each of you in the audience here in St. Louis will enjoy it tonight. This particular session, as I said, is the third of three.

For those that haven't seen the earlier ones, the first one was on the root causes of the financial crisis, which I was able to present to those that were in attendance. Following that, Bill Emmons, an economist here at the Federal Reserve, talked about the federal budget deficit. And I think in light of today's Super Committee announcement, that may be of interest to some of those of you who did not participate in it. And it is on the St. Louis Fed's web site if you want to go back to that and get a little bit of insight into what some of the numbers look like and what some of the challenges are ahead.

Tonight we'll bring the fall series to a close by talking about the very difficult but important topic of unemployment and why it remains so undesirably high. And with that, our speaker tonight will be Chris Waller. Chris is the director of Research and senior vice president here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. And after the presentation part of the session, he'll engage in a dialogue with those of you that have questions, and joining him will be two of his staff members, also economists, David Andolfatto and Natalia Kolesnikova, if I said that pretty close to right. She gave me a thumbs-up, so I did okay on that. So they'll be back here to take your questions.

Just a couple of housekeeping matters. This is important to me, although I know it's probably not top on your mind. We will be sending you a survey after the session. If you could fill that out, we'd appreciate it. It's important to us because it will help inform us on whether we continue the series next spring. So any feedback you have on the value of the session or even topics you think should be covered would be very much appreciated.

Second, if you do have questions tonight, please be sure to turn your microphone on and off. So if you're looking at that little thing that's in front of you that looks like a microphone, it is. And there's an on/off switch when you have a question that you can turn on and then turn it off when you're done. If you're in our remote viewing room here in St. Louis, there will be a roving microphone that you can use. So with that I'll also mention that we will stop promptly at 8:30 tonight. That's to allow our facility staff to close down by 9:20. So if you do have questions after that, we'll have a short amount of time to take those questions. But for the most part, we plan to conclude at 8:30.

So now I'm going to turn the mic over to Chris Waller. And just by means of introduction, Chris is senior vice president and director of Research here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He joined us in June of 2009. And, prior to that, Chris received his bachelor's degree in economics from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minn., which I'm from Minn., so I'm very fond of Minn. when I hear that. I'm seeing some head nods, so we've got some other Minn. folks in the crowd. I'm glad to see that.

His master's degree and PhD were from Washington State University, and he gained those in 1984 and 1985. Prior to joining us, Chris was a professor and a Gilbert F. Schaefer Chair of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, and rumor has it he still goes back to football games every time there's a home game. I think it's something associated with a one-day teaching stint. He also served as the acting department chair for Notre Dame's Department of Economics and Econometrics from 2006 to 2007. So please join me tonight in welcoming Chris Waller.

Christopher Waller: Well, first of all I'd like to say thank you everyone in the auditorium, in the River Room, and in the webcast for taking the time out of your day to come down and talk about this. Hopefully, it will be an engaging talk and have lots of interesting Q&A afterwards. I'd like to also just take a moment and thank all the people within the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis who put in a lot of time and effort into this series, in particular our Event and IT staff, our Economics Education group, and the SPRA group. I don't want to spell out the acronym.

And I'd also like to thank our panelists tonight, David Andolfatto and Natalia Kolesnikova. David is a world-renowned macroeconomist and a blogger. So if you're interested in his thoughts on blogging and the world economic situation, you can go to MacroMania and follow what he's saying. Natalia is one of our young microeconomists on staff who focuses on labor economics and discrimination and fertility issues. And finally tonight, I'd like to give a special thank you to Julie Stackhouse for creating Dialogue with the Fed. This has been a wildly successful outreach program just by the sheer numbers of people who have shown up for three straight times. And I'd like to give her a round of applause.

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This popular lecture series addresses key issues and provides the opportunity to ask questions of Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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