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Employment, Unemployment, and the Federal Reserve - Econ Lowdown Webinar Series, Episode 10

In this session of the Econ Lowdown webinar series, Scott Wolla from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Grant Black from Lindenwood University, discuss employment, unemployment, and the Federal Reserve as important economic concepts for the classroom. In addition to providing clarity on the content, they suggest teaching strategies and free teaching resources available from the St. Louis Fed.

Topics included:

  • How employment and unemployment are measured;
  • How they are affected by changes in the economy; and
  • What monetary policy can do to influence them.

This webinar introduces strategies for teaching and easy-to-use classroom resources.

Transcript

Below is a full transcript of this webinar. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Brad Straubinger: Hello and welcome to the ECON Lowdown Webinar. Today we'll discuss employment, unemployment and the Federal Reserve. I'm Brad Straubinger from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and I'll be your facilitator today. Let me introduce our presenters. Scott Wolla from the St. Louis Fed is here with me in our St. Louis studio, and Grant Black is at Linden University. And before turning the call over to our presenters I'm going to run through a few logistics.

If you haven't joined us through the webinar yet, just click the link you received after registering. For the best webinar experience, we ask that you use the FAQ document, which can be found using the materials button in the webinar player page. I'll go ahead and highlight a few important notes for you, though, first. You can listen to the audio through your PC speakers or through the phone. If you use the phone option, slides will not sync with audio unless you change your settings. You can do this by selecting the gray gear located on the upper right corner of the slide window just above the presentation. From there, you should see a few options in the media chooser and you should select the phone option. It's the third option on the bottom. You can expand the size of the slides, too. To do this, use the maximize button in the upper right corner of the slide window located on the webinar player page. And if you'd like a PDF copy of today's presentation, you can access it using the materials button. And we will be taking questions throughout the presentation, and you can submit them at anytime during our call. If you've joined us via the webinar, just click the Ask Questions button. We'll get your questions cued up for our presenters today when it's time for questions.

And let me mention our legal disclaimer before I turn over the call to Scott. The views expressed here do not reflect the official position of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It is now my pleasure to turn over the call to Scott Wolla who has joined me here in St. Louis.

Scott Wolla: Thanks, Brad. So our webinar today is about employment, unemployment and the Federal Reserve. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the agency that actually measures unemployment in the United States. And to do so, they survey about 60,000 households, which is approximately 110,000 individuals. That serves as a representative sample of the US population. Survey respondents, which are 16 years of age or older, answer a series of questions that classify them into different categories, which you see on this slide.

And if you go onto the next slide. Workers are classified as in the labor force as either employed or unemployed. So the labor force is composed of the group that we talk about as employed; someone who currently has a job. And someone who's unemployed, which is someone who doesn't have a job right now and is actively looking for work. So both of those things have to be included in order to be considered to be unemployed. And we'll break that down a little bit more even in future slides.

If you go to the next slide, you have the other category. So in the labor force would be employed and unemployed. Out of the labor force would be someone who doesn't have a job right now and isn't necessarily looking for a job either. So the official kind of definition, description there is people under the age of 16 years of age and people 16 years old or older who are not actively seeking employment. So typical examples would be obviously people under the age of 16. Other examples might be parents staying home to care for children, full time college students, retired people. So these are people who are perfectly happy being out of the labor force. It also includes discouraged workers, which is a group of people, someone who's not looking for work because – so for instance, a discouraged worker, the descriptor oftentimes goes someone who lost a job, is unemployed for a while, becomes discouraged with the labor market and stops looking for work. And so when the pollsters call and ask the questions that allow them to categorize, even though these people don't have a job and they want a job, because they're not actively looking, they're considered out of the labor force, and therefore are not counted as unemployed.

On the next slide you see more of a detailed breakdown of the different categories or the different pieces that need to fit in order to be counted as unemployed. So as the BLS asks these questions, if these four indicators all show up as being true, this person would be unemployed. So 16 years or older, not have a job, effectively look for work in the previous four weeks, and are currently available to work. So if those four things are true, this person would be considered unemployed in the statistics.

On the next slide you just kind of see a nice definition. Again, the percentage, we were talking about the unemployment rate, so in this idea of employment unemployment, the unemployment rate is probably the most important and most widely reported statistic when we think about employment and unemployment and indicators of the health of the labor market. And so the unemployment rate is simply the percentage of the nation's labor force that is unemployed.

The next slide has kind of a nice image to help us think about this. So you see kind of in the shape of the United States on the right hand side would represent the people outside of the labor force, those little dots. And then on the left side we have different colored dots. The pink dots would be those employed, the blue dots would be the unemployed. And so when we think about the unemployment rate, we would be thinking of the percentage of the blue dots as a part of all of the blue and pink dots combined. The next slide kind of brings that to bear.

So again, the unemployment rate is the number of people who are unemployed, divided into the number of people who are in the labor force, which would include both the employed and the unemployed. And then so we turn this decimal into a nice percent. We multiple times 100.

On the next slide we kind of have our formal definition again. And I'm curious, Brad, about what the unemployment rate is, and we're going to pose a poll to see what our audience thinks the unemployment rate is.

Brad Straubinger: That's right. So hopefully you'll see this on your screen if you have not already. So our polling question here on slide nine is what is the current unemployment rate? And our options are, A., 3.9 percent, B., 4.4 percent, C., 4.9 percent, or D., 5.4 percent. So I'll let people vote here once again. I'll read this question one more time so you can give it a look and give us your thoughts. What is the current unemployment rate? A., 3.9 percent, B., 4.4 percent, C., 4.9 percent, or D., 5.4 percent. So I see people still voting and I'll give folks just a few more seconds here before we go ahead and stop and show those results. And hopefully you've had a chance to vote. I'm going to go ahead and stop our poll now and take a look at the results on the screen. And here in a moment you'll see those pop up. And it looks like we have a large majority saying A. Scott.

Scott Wolla: All right. Well, we have a very informed audience today. On the next slide you see the current FRED graph and the current unemployment rate there at the bottom. So that is correct. The current unemployment rate is 3.9 percent. You can see a few things on this FRED graph. First of all, this FRED graph has the recession bars. You can see the light gray lines that flow vertically through the graph. Those areas indicate recession. And then you also see the blue line, which is the unemployment rate over those periods. So 3.9 percent, if you look at the most recent number, historically is an extremely low unemployment rate. When you're teaching unemployment, one of the great things about the unemployment rate, and for instance, this FRED graph is to point out to students the correlation between recessions and unemployment. So this tends to be a very volatile number overtime, but at the same time you can clearly see the impact of recessions on labor markets and the unemployment rate.

It's also interesting to point out to students this last recession, the recession that ended about 2009, how high the unemployment rate reached. It hit ten percent. And then you can see that it took a long time for the unemployment rate to come down. And if you're teachers out there, you're probably old enough to have lived through some of the pain that that recession caused. Your students sometimes aren't really old enough to realize some of the labor market impact, although a lot of them will have stories to tell.

If you go to the next slide. I have a few other FRED graphs here. And if you haven't used FRED when you're talking about unemployment if you're a teacher or a professor, it is a wonderful tool. So this graph is essentially the same graph we just saw before. In this graph the green line is the national unemployment rate. Sometimes we call that the headline number. The blue line is the unemployment rate for men. And the red line is the unemployment rate for women. If you'll look historically, so before the 1980's you can see it seems that for much of that time period the unemployment rate for women was higher than it was for men. But if you look directly after this last recession that had flipped, where the unemployment rate for men was much higher than it was for women. And that speaks to the industries that were hit particularly hard during this last recession. So if you remember back a little bit, you remember that healthcare and education tended to do better than construction and manufacturing. And when you look at statistically, women are well-represented in education and healthcare, and men make up a majority of the workforce in construction and manufacturing.

On the next slide you see another FRED graph. And this one, again, is the unemployment rate with the recession bars. And then overlaid on this graph we have a red line, which represents the national rate of unemployment. So the national rate of unemployment is an estimate of a concept that would sometimes fall in your textbook as full employment. Again, economists debate about how accurate this number is over time. It is just an estimate, but it's a useful tool to think about what the unemployment rate would be in a well-functioning economy and what that number would look like as full employment. Overtime, this helps us identify the health of the labor market. And you can see written at the bottom of this slide the most recent numbers. So again, the December unemployment rate reported in early January just a couple weeks ago, 3.9 percent, the estimation of the national rate of unemployment at that same time was about 4.6 percent. And so the current unemployment rate is actually lower than what we would call full employment.

On the next slide you see another measure of the labor market. This is the labor force participation rate. And you can see there at the bottom of the slide we define the labor force participation rate as the number of people in the labor force. Again, that's the employed and unemployed, as a percentage of the population. This is a number that's been in the news a lot over the last few years, especially on the trailing edge of that recession, and you can see why. So before the recession, if you compare that number to what it is currently, you can see the labor force participation rate has just dropped substantially. But you can also see that prior to like 1990, that the trend had been upward for a long time. So as economists think about this number and think about the trends, when they look at that period from about 1948 where this series begins up until about 2000, they talk about two trends or two historical shifts that were happening that caused this labor force participation rate to rise over that time period. One of them being women entering the labor force, and the other one being the baby boom generation maturing and entering the labor force. And so they use these two kind of historical stories to talk about this dramatic increase in the labor force participation rate.

The decrease in this number since 2000 is largely attributed to demographics again. So now we see those baby boomers moving into retirement. So the baby boomers currently, approximately, in their early 50's to about 70 years old. That generation is kind of on the cusp of retirement. Some of them are retired. And as they leave the labor force, but not the population, that brings that number down. This number was in the news a lot after the great recession of course because in addition to this argument, there was also this discussion about discouraged workers. That some component of this number might be discouraged workers as well who are out of the labor force, of course, but still in the population, and therefore pulling that number down. You can see that just recently this number has stabilized. And actually the last couple data points on this has indicated that maybe we've at least stabilized, and it may be ticking up again just at the margin.

On the next slide, again, FRED has a lot of great information that is great for classroom discussions. This takes that same concept, the labor force participation rate and breaks it into men and women. And so you can see over this time period, 1948 to the present, that the labor force participation rate for men over that time period has remained relatively stable, but has decreased over the period. Where women in 1948, you see this transition of the labor market where more women were entering the labor force. And then you see it stabilize about 2000, and then after the recession you see it dip a little bit. The current numbers here are 69 percent for men, and 57.5 percent for women.

And with that, I'm going to pass the baton onto Grant.

Grant Black: Scott's given us a really good picture of what unemployment has looked like overtime. And that really raises the question of what's actually caused unemployment? And to get a good handle on understanding unemployment, it really requires understanding what's at the root cause of it. And unemployment's not a one-size fits all kind of idea. And so as we think about this, we classify unemployment into three different types based on different causes. And a really important implication of that is how do we address unemployment? Really is going to depend on the underlying causes. And so we're going to take a few minutes and just sort of explore these three different types or causes of unemployment.

And so the first type is frictional unemployment, which you see on this screen here. We can just define that as unemployment that arises due to the job search process. So in other words, a great way to think about that is it simply takes time to match available workers with the available jobs that are out there. So imagine you have a recent college graduate. They may not have a job yet, but they're in that search, actively searching. They have these new skills that they've developed, and abilities, and it can just simply take time to find the right fit for them. And so that's the idea of frictional unemployment. What's interesting is what we've often seen is overtime this frictional unemployment component falling. And so we've seen a reduction in frictional unemployment due a lot through advances in technology and so on. So if you think about the job search process, it's just much faster than it used to be. And so that's helping reduce recent unemployment.

We can go to the next slide. So the second type of unemployment that we want to look at is cyclical unemployment. And here we've defined it as unemployment that's arising during the economic downturns. And it's really just the extra unemployment that's going to occur during these downturns in economic activity. I often think about cyclical unemployment this way. It's unemployment that's caused by fluctuations in economic activity. So during economic downturns, if you think about the recent great recession, you're going to see an increase in cyclical unemployment. When the economy's booming, we've come out of those recessions, and demand's heating up, then we should see more people being employed and greater demand for workers, and so cyclical unemployment would be on the decline.

You can go to the next slide. And the third type of unemployment that we want to talk about is structural unemployment. And I'll define it this way. You can see a definition on the screen, but I'll just sort of take a step back from that for a moment. It's really unemployment that's caused by changes in the structure of the economy itself. If you think about examples of what do I kind of mean about that. So if you sort of think about all the different sort of institutional factors that kind of define what our economy is, and so some of those factors can influence the existence of unemployment that can persist in an economy. And if those factors aren't really changed, then that structural unemployment sort of persists. Or as different factors evolve in the economy and sort of redefine what our economy looks like, then that influences the size of structural unemployment.

So to give you a few examples of that, if you think about just the shift in the US economy as we move from a sort of agricultural driven economy, then we move to this basic manufacturing kind of economy. That had different sorts of requirements for workers and so on. And so if you didn't have the right skill to people as we shifted into a manufacturing driven economy, then you had people lingering in unemployment. They really couldn't find jobs that were out there. We've seen that in more recent times as we've moved from a manufacturing driven economy to a more information age kind of economy. And so demand for higher skilled workers, that's created some of the structural unemployment. You can also see structural unemployment driven by things that I'll call barriers to labor markets. That may be things like the existence of unions. In some markets that may be things like the existence of discrimination against different individuals or workers in different labor markets. It can also be driven by things like government policy. So if you think about a minimum wage law, for example. That may contribute to unemployment in certain labor markets. That's structural in nature. It's not cyclical, it's not frictional. It's something that we kind of have to live with given sort of the structure of how we created the economy.

So one of the big implications of structural unemployment is it often results from the skills mismatches. So we have available workers and you have available jobs, but the workers that are available aren't fitting those job openings. And so that's a lot of what we've seen, for example, in more recent years with some of this shift from manufacturing to higher skilled kind of jobs where workers that were downsized and lost jobs and they've struggled to find work in these more higher skilled kinds of areas.

You can go to the next slide. So we're going to see what you think, so we're going to do a little bit of an online poll. So once you've set that poll up here, then we're going to think about a certain scenario here and see if you guys can determine what type of unemployment are we talking about here.

Brad Straubinger: All right. So again, go ahead and get ready to get interactive with us as we'll go ahead and answer this question, then we'll show the results here in a moment. And the question is which type of unemployment is described in this example? A construction worker is laid off because the demand for housing has decreased due to a recession. Is it A., cyclical, B., frictional, or C., structural? So I'll let everyone have a chance to go ahead and vote on that one and give us your answer. Which type of unemployment is described in this example? A construction worker is laid off because the demand for housing has decreased due to a recession. A., cyclical, B., frictional, or C., structural. And I see some results coming in, so I'll give folks just a few more seconds here to go ahead and pop in their answer. And I'm going to go ahead and stop the poll. And let's go ahead and show folks the results here on the screen. And you should be seeing those in a moment as they pop up. And we had most folks going with A., cyclical. I'll turn it back to you.

Grant Black: All right. So let's sort of follow up on that. So what makes that cyclical unemployment? So if you sort of break down this scenario, here we're in the midst of a recession, so there's a downturn in the economy. And you're having workers laid off because of this reduced demand for housing during this slow down in economic activity. That is cyclical unemployment. So that unemployment is being driven by simply those fluctuations in economic activity as the economy's sort of slowing down due to that decrease in demand for goods and services during that recession, there's less need for as many workers.

We're going to pick back up here on this slide and think a little bit more about this structural unemployment issue. And a big implication of it is that something that can't easily be fixed or addressed through the action of economic policies. And if you think about why that is, it's really because it's not easy, at least quickly, to really change the economy structure. So if you think about different reasons, it could be challenging to change existing laws. So we've certainly seen that with, say, the persistence of the minimum wage laws and how that's been in effect for decades, and how it's not easy to simply change the levels of that. It's not easy to change peoples' behaviors, trying to influence behaviors by policies as well. Often this structural unemployment is driven by these skills mismatches and it's not easy to do that quickly either. So to try to implement policy that can quickly retrain, gear up people for new kinds of jobs, that all can take time. And so unless you can really actively change the structure, a lot of the structural type of unemployment tends to persist, tends to be longer term in duration. So good examples of this is these sort of issues of worker education versus the skills required for jobs. It may be things like where the jobs actually are located versus where workers are. How easily can we make workers mobile to get to the jobs that can be available that may not necessarily be too easy in some situations. And I talked about the minimum wage a minute ago.

We can go ahead and go to the next slide and I'm going to turn it back over to Scott who's going to kind of pick up with some of these ideas thinking about from the Fed's perspective.

Scott Wolla: All right. Thanks, Grant. So when we think about cyclic, structural, frictional, the type of unemployment that rises as a result of recession or economic fluctuation as cyclical, which is a reflection of the business cycle. And that's the type of unemployment that the Fed is able to impact the most using monetary policy. So we're going to do a little brief here on the Federal Reserve and monetary policy, and then we'll talk about unemployment in that context.

So when we talk about the Fed and its ability to influence the business cycle, we have to start with the FOMC. So the FOMC is the Federal Open Market Committee. It's the Federal Reserve's chief body for conducting monetary policy. And so the Federal Reserve as the central bank influences interest rates. Interest rates influence the demand for goods and services in the economy. And by influencing the demand for goods and services in the economy, they can effect employment and the prices in the economy, or what we think of as the inflation rate.

So if you go to the next slide we can talk a little bit more about that FOMC. So the Federal Open Market Committee is made up of 19 members. 12 of those members come from the Federal Reserve districts. So the president of each Federal Reserve Bank, and there are 12 Federal Reserve Banks in our system, each of those presidents serve on the FOMC. And on the picture on the right, you see the Board of Governors in Washington D.C., which is the Federal Government Agency, the Board of Governors oversees the Federal Reserve System. But at the Board of Governors, there are in fact seven governors, or the way the system is designed. And each of those seven  governors sits on the FOMC committee, the Federal Open Market Committee. Now you'll see a little asterisk there beside the number seven, because currently, while there are seven seats, there are two open seats. So we have actually five governors currently at the Board of Governors. And as a result, currently that committee is made up of 17 members.

When it comes to the voting, at each of those meetings, at the end of those meetings, the FOMC, the committee members each vote about interest rate policy. Five of those 12 presidents get to vote and there's a rotation system, which we'll talk about in just a minute. But all of the governors vote at the meetings. And so potentially you have 12 votes. Currently, of course, only ten votes are cast, because the five Federal Reserve Presidents cast votes, and because there are only five governors, that makes up the other five.

On the next slide you see the current sitting governors. Current Chairman Jerome Powell has been at the Board for a while. And then you see a couple new faces there. Richard Clarida and Randal Quarles as well as Michelle Bowman and Lael Brainard. So there are two open seats. And the way people are appointed to the Board of Governors is that the President nominates, the Senate confirms. And so there's a little bit of politics that come into this a little bit. The Federal Reserve was created as a nonpolitical entity, and so once the Governors are in office, they have a 14 year term. The presidents are nonpolitical appointees. They are chosen within the Federal Reserve Banks by a Board of Directors, and then approved by the Board of Governors. But in the end, we get these 19 committee members who then decide interest rate policy for the economy.

If you go to that next slide you'll get a sense of that rotation. So again, this is a nice infographic that the Chicago Fed produced. And at the top you see the seven governors, you see the seven governors vote at each of those meetings. And then below that you have the five regional Reserve Bank presidents. And you'll see that the New York Fed, which is the circle to the farthest left, votes at every meeting. This is largely due to the fact that the trading desk – when the Federal Reserve conducts monetary policy, it involves buying and selling securities, and the New York Fed is the Federal Reserve Bank that actually conducts the monetary policy treasury trading that influences the money supply and therefore interest rates. And so given that they have a key role in that process, their President votes at each meeting. But then you also see the rotation of the other Reserve Banks. So Cleveland and Chicago rotate, and then the other banks are all on this three year rotation.

If you go to the next slide, it gives that same information, essentially a little bit differently. So the 12 voting members, the seven members of the Board of Governors vote at each meeting. The President of the New York Fed votes at each meeting. And then you have the four remaining votes on this rotating basis. So this year, 2019, you see Boston, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City will vote. Now, I do want to stress that even when those Reserve Bank presidents are not voting, they're still very much engaged in the committee actions. So they're talking about what's happening in their districts, they're talking about what they think should happen in regards to the money supply and interest rates, and they're oftentimes very vocal about what they think the policy should be. But at the end of the meeting when it comes time to vote, some of those Reserve Banks don't actually get to cast that vote at the end of the meeting.

On the next slide you see the meetings, so the FOMC meets eight times a year. You can see the next meeting is January 29th and 30th. You'll see also some of those dates have a little asterisk behind it, and those are the meetings after which they issue a protection. And you'll see a little piece of that projection in a future slide.

On the next slide I just have kind of an image here to talk about the dual mandate. And so the Federal Reserve's main objectives here, when it comes to the economy, are to promote maximum employment and price stability. So there are a lot of other variables and measures of the economy that people talk about often. But the Federal Reserve's primary role in the economy is to create an economy that has these two components as true. That we have maximum employment and price stability. We'll spend a little time trying to bring some clarity to exactly what that means.

And so on the next slide we'll tackle price stability first. So as of 2012, the FOMC started talking in numerical terms. That they stated specifically that the inflation target over the long run is two percent. And so it doesn't necessarily mean that every single month is two percent, but they want the trend to be moving towards two percent. And over the longer term they put the objective out there that an economy that's well-functioning should have an inflation rate that is approximately two percent, give or take. But this webinar is more about the maximum employment.

So on the next slide we'll talk about this term. This term is a little more opaque for some, because there actually isn't this numerical target. So rather economists use estimates of full employment. So when we talk about maximum employment, roughly we're talking about the economic concept of full employment.

And if you go to the next slide, I mentioned earlier the fact that the Federal Open Market Committee issues projections. And this is actually the projection that they gave December 19, 2018, so their last meeting, about the unemployment rate. And it's got a lot of images and lines, so let's try to break this apart a little bit. The blue line shows the recent past and what the trend has been. So you can see since 2013 the unemployment rate trend has been downward. Of course, this projection was given at the very end of 2018, so their projection for the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, which was in fact the unemployment rate that had just been released. It was the November unemployment rate, which was released in December. And so this became kind of the default. But as the FOMC looks forward, again, each of the committee members issues a forecast or a projection for what they think the unemployment rate will be at the end of each of the given years going forward. So the FOMC, each of the committee members issued their projection for what the unemployment rate would be at the end of 2019, 2020, 2021, and then in the longer run. If you look at the image, the way the projections are visualized, the blue rectangle is what we call the central tendency. So it doesn't acknowledge the highest three and the lowest three projections. The bracket on the top shows the highest projection. The bracket on the bottom shows the lowest projection. And then the red line is the median. And so 2019, I wrote the median above it, so the median number is 3.5. You can see 2020 the median's 3.6. 2021, median is 3.8. And then the longer run, they talk about 4.4 percent. And then in the notes of all of these projections, they describe what these projections mean. And they state in the projections that you can think of the longer run projections as kind of a normal unemployment rate. So when the FOMC thinks about what full employment might look like, in the longer run they see it as about 4.4 percent. And you can see their projections are that the unemployment rate will stay relatively low, but will rise gently over the next few years towards that longer run level.

Also, at the end of each of those FOMC meetings, they issue a press release. That press release is very informative about what the committee feels the current state of the economy is. And then they also have policy section. I did pull out the labor market statement out of the last release here. So they said information received since the FOMC met in November indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a strong rate. Job gains have been strong on average in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. And then farther down you have the policy implications.

And so all of these things I think would be useful for the classroom. And so for instance, the press release is available at the Board of Governors website. The projections that we just talked about, again, openly available at the Board of Governors website for you to download, put in a slide. The FRED slides that we had earlier, FRED is a great resource and it is available, and I'll show you how to get there in just a minute.

What you see on your slide right now is the ECON Lowdown. So this website is at www.stlouisfed.org/education. On this website we have approximately 400 classroom resources, K-16. So if you teach college, we have some resources for you as well. We have a lot of resources out there, so we have a number of filters. And towards the bottom you can see some of those filters. But I just want to make sure that you're aware that these resources exist, that they're available free for anyone to use. Just  go and stream the videos, download the lesson plans, access the online materials.

If you go to the next slide. I did talk about FRED a little bit here and there, and you saw some of the FRED graphs that are useful for talking about labor market. And at the lower right you see the FRED website. You can find FRED at fred.stlouisfed.org, or if you just go to Google and type FRED, you're sure to find our FRED. FRED is Federal Reserve Economic Data. We're proud to call the St. Louis Fed home to FRED. You have about a half a million data series all free. We have great graphing tools. You can download your graphs into PowerPoint slides or download the images. You can create URLs to share with your students, create a Dashboard. It's an incredibly valuable and useful tool, and of course it's all free for anyone to use at anytime.

On the next slide I want to tell you also about a video. We have a video series called “The Economic Lowdown Video Series.” Episode ten was unemployment. And actually, a lot of the images that you saw in the slides are actually from this video. And so this is a great overview if you want to show it to your students, or share it with your students, or use it for your own professional development, or post it on Facebook, or whatever the case might be. It's a great seven and a half minute, roughly, overview of unemployment, how it's measured, the types of unemployment, and then what policy can do.

On the next slide, we at the St. Louis Fed have also produced a number of online learning modules. And we have a lot of resources, actually, online to teach about unemployment. So here you see some of the online modules that we have. There's one on types of unemployment, consequences of unemployment, measuring unemployment, and the effects of education on unemployment. These are all relatively short. All contain a pre and post test. As a teacher or an instructor, you can set up classrooms and build a syllabus online, assign these to your students. When your students complete them, you get feedback about their pre and post test scores. And it's a great way to foot the classroom, if you foot the classroom, or to just do some general instruction online.

On the next slide, we also have a publication we call “Page One Economics.” This is a monthly publication. Every other month it's on economics, and then the alternating months it's on personal finance. So I've pulled out two issues that were especially relevant to our topic today. One is called “Making Sense of Unemployment Data,” and then another one is called “Will Robots Take Our Jobs?” And that takes more of a labor market approach and talks about how technology can both substitute and compliment labor. And so this is a great classroom resource, again, to engage students. We create this as a publication that can be used in the classroom by also providing a study guide for you to use with your students. You can also assign these online. So if you create an account in our online learning portal, you can assign these readings. And then after the readings, the student will get assessment pieces. And as they take these assessments, again, you get feedback about their performance on those assessments.

On the next slide you see, again, our website. This is www.stlouisfed.org/education. And I've put a little arrow here to a button called subscribe. And on that subscribe button you can sign up for our newsletter. And if you do so, we will send you a newsletter once a month, and it will just give you an update about what's new from the education  unit here at the St. Louis Fed, new resources, maybe workshops or webinars that you might be interested in. So you might want to check that out. On the right hand side of that image you see it says, “ECON Lowdown,” and then there's a blue bar with a picture of a red apple. If you were to click that red apple you would be taken to the online learning portion of our page or the online learning portal where you could create an account, and build a syllabus, and assign some of these resources to your students.

On the next, you see actually it's just an image of the masthead of our newsletter, but it features the fact that for the last three years we've had actually over one million student enrollments in that online learning portal. So we've become a national leader in online learning when it comes to economics and personal finance. And so you can join the over one million student enrollments by adding your own students to that collection.

The next page shows our Facebook page. If you “like” our Facebook page called ECON Lowdown, we won't fill your feed with cat pictures and goofy stuff like that, dad jokes. But we will maybe three or four times a week talk about a new resource or a teaching strategy that you might be interested in using in your classroom.

And with that, I'll pass the baton back to Grant.

Grant Black: All right. Thanks, Scott. So to get everybody a little bit more exposure to these resources and some sort of hands on practice using them and applying them in the classroom, we're actually offering a pretty unique opportunity with this particular webinar to offer one graduate credit to interested participants. And so this is not a requirement, but if this is something you'd be interested in, the option's available. So it's offered through Lindenwood University, which is located in the St. Louis area where the St. Louis Fed is. And the cost is only 75 dollars, which is a great bargain for graduate credit. So if you're just for professional development reasons, if you need to pick up extra hours or things like that, this could be a great alternative to explore. So if anybody is interested, all you've got to do is just e-mail the address that you see on the screen. It's just EEC, that's for the Economic Education Center, @lindenwood.edu. And we can provide more details and that kind of thing.

If you go to the next slide I'll just talk a little bit about what's required in the class, what you'd be doing. So in addition to the webinar itself that you're obviously participating in right now, there will be some additional work and activities that you would be required to do. So basically three things. Obviously participate in the webinar, which you're about to wrap up. Second, we'll just ask you to complete a set of materials that are from the Fed's ECON Lowdown site. And if we could do that within the next month, that would be great. So we're tentatively setting a deadline of February 17th to do that. And I'll outline what those are and Scott's highlighted several of them already. And then third, we're simply just going to ask you to complete some type of classroom teaching experience. And so we'd like you to use a new lesson from the Fed that's called “How do we Measure Unemployment?” Do that activity in your class, and then just submit a brief reflection paper about that experience, and how students reacted, and that kind of thing. So it's pretty simple. Shouldn't take a huge amount of time to actually do this, to walk through to earn that extra graduate credit.

And so if you go to the next slide, we'll just briefly outline what some of those materials that you would be doing. So here's the specific resources we'd be using that you'd be watching or reading. And we'll actually be using the ECON Lowdown classroom portal. So we're going to set up a class for this webinar. And so those people that would be interested, we're going to give – you would kind of participate like one of your students would if you set one up in your class. And so you'd get that sort of experience walking through that. And so all of the materials will be in there. And so all of the links and things you can just get access to all in one spot. And you should be able to submit your reflection paper all right there as well. And so Scott mentioned that unemployment course, so you'd be going through that. There's a labor market video that you would be viewing. There's an unemployment video. There's some really great videos that give you a feel for how to use FRED in the classroom. So that's at a site called “Are Your Students Ready for FRED?” You'll be reading a couple of those “Page One's” that are related to unemployment. And then an additional reading is a paper [unintelligible 00:50:17] coauthor called “Federal Reserve Policy: Managing Both Sides of the Dual Mandate.”

And so I'll stop there. So just to reiterate with the graduate, if you're interested in this graduate credit, try to e-mail within the next few days to that eec@lindenwood.edu and we can give you kind of information, a syllabus, and sort of how that process is going to work. And so we hope quite a few of you would be interested in exploring the graduate credit and kind of getting the chance to sort of get us some personal interaction with the resources.

I'll turn it back over to Scott and we can open it up for questions.

Scott Wolla: All right. Thank you, Grant. Yeah. We do have some time for questions, so feel free.

Brad Straubinger: This is Brad here. And just letting you know, we do have about six to seven more minutes here left. And the easiest way, obviously, is just to hit the Ask Question button and we will get your questions to Scott or Grant. And right now, I'm not seeing any questions coming in so I'll just let everyone have a moment here while we wait to see if there are any questions out there for Scott and Grant. Again, it's very simple. You just hit the Ask Question button, and type your question in, and it pops up right here for me and Scott to see. And I'll read it aloud, and Scott or Grant will be able to answer your question for you. So at this point, still not seeing any questions coming in. I'll give folks, like I said, one to two more minutes as we're getting close to the end of our time here today.

And this might be a good time, as we wait for questions, and normally we would say if you guys have any final thoughts. Grant, I'll start with you. If you have any final thoughts if we don't have any questions.

Grant Black: No. I'm just saying our contact information is there, so if anybody has any questions or as they sort of process this later on or think about how to use it in their classrooms, definitely shoot us an e-mail and we'd be happy to talk with anybody. Scott?

Brad Straubinger: Again, not seeing any questions. So this is our last chance to answer questions. Go ahead and hit that Ask Question button if you do have one. But Scott, I'll let you have the final word.

Scott Wolla: All right. Just a few final thoughts. First of all, make sure you check out the ECON Lowdown resources online. FRED is a great classroom resource if you teach macro or any level economics. You can find some great data series. It's a great tool for the classroom. And as Grant said, our contact information is there. If you have any questions, we'd be happy to answer them.

Brad Straubinger: All right. Well, I'd like to thank Scott and Grant very much for sharing their expertise and time with us today. A survey is available and it will be coming to you shortly. Everyone will receive this survey via their e-mail link. You only need to fill it out once, but please take a couple minutes to do so. It helps us as we look forward to more presentations like today.

Thank you for joining us. This will conclude today's Federal Reserve ECON Lowdown webinar. We hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

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Audience:   High School, College, Consumers
Language:   English
Subjects:   Economics, Data Literacy
Resource Types:   Webinar
Concepts:   Employment, Unemployment, Federal Reserve System-functions