We consider which labor market variables are the most informative for estimating and nowcasting the US output gap using a multivariate trend-cycle decomposition. Although the unemployment rate clearly contains important cyclical information, it also appears to reflect more persistent movements related to labor force participation that could distort inferences about the output gap. Instead, we show that the alternative U-2 unemployment rate (job losers as a percentage of the labor force) provides a more purely cyclical indicator of labor market conditions. To a lesser extent, but consistent with a link of the output gap to real labor costs in a New Keynesian setting, we also find that average hourly earnings are informative about the output gap.
Gender pay gaps are commonly studied in populations with already completed educational careers. We focus on an earlier stage by investigating the gender pay gap among university students working alongside their studies. With data from five cohorts of a large-scale student survey from Germany, we use regression and wage decomposition techniques to describe gender pay gaps and potential explanations. We find that female students earn about 6% less on average than male students, which reduces to 4.1% when accounting for a rich set of explanatory variables. The largest explanatory factor is the type of jobs male and female students pursue.