Selected Research & Analysis: Work and Employment

See also related Extramural Projects.

Research Summaries

Employment Transitions Among Older Americans During the Initial Lockdown and Early Reopening Months of the COVID-19 Recession
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 4 (released November 2022)
by Christopher R. Tamborini and ChangHwan Kim

This study examines the employment status of older Americans in the months immediately before and after the peak COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. The authors construct longitudinal employment data from 2019–2020 Current Population Surveys. To account for seasonal fluctuations in employment and retirement patterns that are not unique to the COVID-19 recession, they implement a difference-in-differences analysis using multinomial logistic regressions. They find that the onset of the pandemic immediately and adversely affected all workers, but the extent of the employment disruptions varied by age group, sex, and whether the worker has a college degree. Reemployment patterns after the peak lockdown month also varied but did not simply reverse the earlier patterns. The findings imply that the employment effects of the COVID-19 recession are substantially different from those of previous recessions.

Improving County-Level Earnings Estimates with a New Methodology for Assigning Geographic and Demographic Information to U.S. Workers
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 1 (released February 2022)
by Michael Compson

This article describes a new methodology developed by the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to indicate the state and county of residence, date of birth, and sex of nearly all workers for whom tax records provide earnings data in a given year. Applying these geographic and demographic indicators will enable ORES to use a vastly larger sample of workers to generate annual earnings estimates. The current methodology assigns state and county codes and demographic information only to workers in SSA's 1-percent Continuous Work History Sample—fewer than 1.7 workers million in 2017. The new methodology would assign state and county codes and demographic information to more than 178 million workers for 2017. A much larger sample of workers mitigates the limitations associated with the current estimation process and enables ORES to generate more comprehensive and accurate county-level earnings estimates.

The Benefit Receipt Patterns and Labor Market Experiences of Older Workers Who Were Denied Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits on the Basis of Work Capacity
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 2 (released May 2020)
by Jody Schimmel Hyde, April Yanyuan Wu, and Lakhpreet Gill

In this article, the authors use linked survey and administrative data to identify Social Security Disability Insurance applicants who received a denial at steps 4 and 5 of the Social Security Administration's sequential evaluation process for disability determination. The authors document the denied applicants' demographic characteristics and the characteristics of the occupations they held before application and track their postdenial benefit receipt, employment, and earnings patterns.

Geographic Mobility and Annual Earnings in the United States
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 2 (released May 2020)
by Patrick J. Purcell

The geographic mobility rate of U.S. workers has declined in recent decades. Labor mobility has historically indicated variations between local areas in earnings and other economic conditions. Because average career earnings determine Social Security retirement benefit levels, changing trends in geographic mobility and earnings may have implications for workers' future benefits. The author uses administrative data on earnings from the Social Security Administration's Continuous Work History Sample to examine trends in geographic mobility from 1994 to 2016 and to compare the earnings of working-age adults who moved to another county or state with the earnings of those who did not.

The Incidence and Consequences of Private Sector Job Loss in the Great Recession
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 78, No. 1 (released February 2018)
by Kenneth A. Couch, Gayle L. Reznik, Howard M. Iams, and Christopher R. Tamborini

This article examines the extent and economic consequences of involuntary unemployment among private-sector workers aged 26–55 during the Great Recession. Using data from the 2008 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the authors document the effects of involuntary unemployment on earnings, income, and health insurance coverage during the economic downturn and compare outcomes across worker demographic subgroups. Those outcomes are tracked at annual intervals over a 3-year follow-up period and are compared with those of workers who did not experience a job loss. The authors discuss their findings in the context of retirement security in general and Social Security in particular.

Employment Patterns Before Applying for Disability Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 77, No. 4 (released November 2017)
by Kara Contreary, Todd Honeycutt, Michelle Stegman Bailey, and Joseph Mastrianni

Using Survey of Income and Program Participation data linked to Social Security administrative files, the authors examine the preapplication employment patterns of Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) applicants for periods of varying lengths up to 24 months before application. The employment histories of about half of the applicants are characterized by stable employment in well-paying jobs; most policy proposals related to workforce retention or DI diversion target this type of worker. The other half of the applicants have either intermittent or no work experience in the preapplication period. Proposals that focus on DI applicants with recent or long-term attachments to the workforce are therefore likely to miss this other half of eventual DI applicants. Future policy proposals should consider outreach to people who lack a strong labor force attachment and who might need a broader array of supports to remain in or return to the workforce.

Economic Conditions and Supplemental Security Income Application
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 77, No. 4 (released November 2017)
by Austin Nichols, Lucie Schmidt, and Purvi Sevak

In this article, the authors examine the relationship between prevailing economic conditions and the likelihood of application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments by jobless adults with disabilities. Using data for 1996–2010 from the Survey of Income and Program Participation linked to Social Security administrative records, the authors observe samples of jobless individuals and examine the state-level unemployment rates at both the time their unemployment spell began and at the time they applied for SSI.

How Do Trends in Women's Labor Force Activity and Marriage Patterns Affect Social Security Replacement Rates?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 4 (released November 2013)
by April Yanyuan Wu, Nadia S. Karamcheva, Alicia H. Munnell, and Patrick J. Purcell

Changes in the role of women in the economy and in the family have affected both the amount and the type of Social Security benefits they receive in retirement. Women's labor force participation rate increased from less than 40 percent in 1950 to more than 70 percent in 2011. Over much of the same period, marriage rates fell and divorce rates rose. This article examines how women's higher earnings and lower marriage rates have affected Social Security replacement rates over time for individuals and for households.

How Did the Recession of 2007–2009 Affect the Wealth and Retirement of the Near Retirement Age Population in the Health and Retirement Study?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 4 (released November 2012)
by Alan L. Gustman, Thomas L. Steinmeier, and Nahid Tabatabai

This article uses household wealth and labor market data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to investigate how the recent "Great Recession" has affected the wealth and retirement of the Early Boomer cohort, those in the population who were just approaching retirement age at the beginning of the recession. The retirement wealth of people aged 53–58 before the onset of the recession in 2006 declined by a relatively modest 2.8 percent by 2010. For members of older cohorts, wealth had increased by about 5 percent over a comparable age span. The wealth holdings of poorer households were least affected by the recession. Relative losses were greatest for those who initially had the highest wealth when the recession began. The retirement behavior of the Early Boomer cohort looks similar, at least to date, to the behavior observed for members of older cohorts at comparable ages.

The Increasing Labor Force Participation of Older Workers and its Effect on the Income of the Aged
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 1 (released February 2012)
by Michael V. Leonesio, Benjamin Bridges, Robert V. Gesumaria, and Linda Del Bene

Higher labor force participation rates for people aged 62–79 are associated with a dramatic increase in the share of their total money income attributable to earnings. For persons aged 65–69, the earnings share increased from 28 percent in 1980 to 42 percent in 2009. Two decades ago, Social Security benefits and earnings were roughly equal shares of total money income (about 30 percent); the earnings share is now more than 12 percentage points larger. The marked increase in the importance of earnings as an income source is also evident throughout the 62–79 age range among Social Security beneficiaries.

Employment among Social Security Disability Program Beneficiaries, 1996–2007
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 3 (released August 2011)
by Arif Mamun, Paul O'Leary, David C. Wittenburg, and Jesse Gregory

Using linked administrative data from program and earnings records, we summarize the 2007 employment rates of working-age (18–64) Social Security disability program beneficiaries at the national and state levels, as well as changes in employment since 1996. Substantial variation exists within the population. Disability Insurance beneficiaries and those younger than age 40 were much more likely to work relative to other Social Security beneficiaries. There are also strong regional differences in the employment rates among disability beneficiaries of working age, and these differences are persistent over time.

Longitudinal Outcomes of an Early Cohort of Ticket to Work Participants
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 3 (released August 2011)
by Gina A. Livermore and Allison Roche

Using data from the 2004–2006 National Beneficiary Surveys matched to Social Security administrative data, this study follows a cohort of disability beneficiaries participating in the Ticket to Work program for several years to assess changes in their service use, health status, employment, and income.

Social Security Disability Beneficiaries with Work-Related Goals and Expectations
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 3 (released August 2011)
by Gina A. Livermore

This study uses survey and administrative data to analyze the characteristics of working-age Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries who report having work goals or expectations, and the extent to which these beneficiaries become employed and leave the disability rolls during a 4-year period.

Cohort Changes in the Retirement Resources of Older Women
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 4 (released March 2009)
by Howard M. Iams, John W. R. Phillips, Kristen Robinson, Lionel P. Deang, and Irena Dushi

This article uses different sources of United States data to focus on the retirement resources of women aged 55–64 in 2004, 1994, and 1984. Notable changes have occurred with women's pathways into retirement resulting from increased education and lifetime work experience. There appear marked cohort differences in potential retirement outcomes.

Labor Force Participation, Income, and the Use of Short-Term Hospitals by the Elderly
ORES Working Paper No. 64 (released November 1994)
by David A. Weaver

Between 1970 and 1983, the rate at which the elderly were hospitalized grew by over 40 percent, but the rate of hospitalization for the younger population was fairly stable. Past attempts to explain the different patterns among the young and the old have focused on technology, insurance, health status, and the supply of hospital services. These attempts have been largely unsuccessful. In this paper, I examine other possible explanations, namely, that the elderly, who experienced a decline in the rate of participation in the labor force and an increase in income over this period, used increases in available time (i.e., nonwork time) and increases in income to seek out and receive greater amounts of health care.

Using an empirical strategy that adequately controls for the health status and insurance status of the subjects under study, I analyze small area data from the state of North Carolina. This approach yields results that indicate labor force status and income are important determinants of hospital use among the elderly.

Women's Employment and the Social Security System
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 3 (released October 1993)
by Marianne A. Ferber
Aged SSI Recipients: Income, Work History, and Social Security Benefits
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54, No. 8 (released August 1991)
by Charles G. Scott
Characteristics of the Longest Job for New Retired Workers: Findings From the New Beneficiary Survey
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48, No. 3 (released March 1985)
by Howard M. Iams
Labor-Force Participation of Older Married Women
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 8 (released August 1980)
by John C. Henretta and Angela M. O'Rand
Changing Commitments of American Women to Work and Family Roles
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 6 (released June 1980)
by Helena Znaniecka Lopata and Kathleen Fordham Norr
Effect of Rehabilitation on Employment and Earnings of the Disabled: Sociodemographic Factors
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 8 (released August 1979)
by Joseph Greenblum
Work Status and Income Change, 1968–72: Retirement History Study Preview
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 12 (released December 1976)
by Alan Fox
Women's Worklives and Future Social Security Benefits
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 4 (released April 1976)
by Lucy B. Mallan
Women Born in the Early 1900's: Employment, Earnings, and Benefit Levels
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 3 (released March 1974)
by Lucy B. Mallan
Work Experience of Men Claiming Retirement Benefits, 1966
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 32, No. 8 (released August 1969)
by Lenore E. Bixby and E. Eleanor Rings
Economic Status, Unemployment, and Family Growth
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 5 (released May 1966)
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 11 (released November 1965)
by Karen Bowles
Employment Problems of Older Workers
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 4 (released April 1957)
by Norman Medvin
The Team Approach to Rehabilitation
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1 (released January 1955)
by Dorothy T. Pearse
A Team Approach to Rehabilitating Recipients of Aid to Dependent Children
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1 (released January 1955)
by Ellarene L. MacCoy and Harry I. Friedman
Duration of Employment and Mobility of Workers: Industry Variations, 1947
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 14, No. 1 (released January 1951)
by Harper R. Fortune
The Employment Security Program in a Changing Economic Situation
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 10 (released October 1949)
Factors Influencing Trends in Employment of the Aged
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 8 (released August 1947)
by S. J. Mushkin and Alan Berman
The Employment Act of 1946
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 3 (released March 1946)
by Anne Scitovszky
Postwar Economic Perspectives III. Prewar Experience: Production and Consumption
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 2 (released February 1946)
by W. S. Woytinsky
Postwar Economic Perspectives II. Prewar Experience: The Labor Force and Employment
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 1 (released January 1946)
by W. S. Woytinsky
Benefit Suspensions and "Dry Spells" When Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Beneficiaries Go to Work
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 12 (released December 1944)
by Mignon Sauber
The British White Paper on Employment Policy
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 9 (released September 1944)
Employment Characteristics of Interstate Workers in Covered Employment in 1938
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 12 (released December 1941)
by Ida C. Merriam and Elizabeth Bliss McClelland
Movement of Workers Into and Out of Covered Employment, 1937 and 1938
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 2 (released February 1941)
by Merrill G. Murray and Michael T. Wermel
Social Characteristics and Employment Status of Urban Workers
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 2 (released February 1941)
by Anne G. Kantor, Doris Carlton, and Barkev S. Sanders
Wages and Employment Under the Old-Age Insurance Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 9 (released September 1938)
by John J. Corson
Promoting Job Security
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 6 (released June 1938)
by Frank Bane
Census Classifications and Social Security Categories
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 4 (released April 1938)
by Laura Wendt