The Aggregate Implications of Regional Business Cycles

January 2019
Martin Beraja, Erik Hurst, Juan Ospina

Making inferences about aggregate business cycles from regional variation alone is difficult because of economic channels and shocks that differ between regional and aggregate economies. However, we argue that regional business cycles contain valuable information that can help discipline models of aggregate fluctuations. We begin by documenting a strong relationship across US states between local employment and wage growth during the Great Recession. This relationship is much weaker in US aggregates. Then, we present a methodology that combines such regional and aggregate data in order to estimate a medium-scale New Keynesian DSGE model. We find that aggregate demand shocks were important drivers of aggregate employment during the Great Recession, but the wage stickiness necessary for them to account for the slow employment recovery and the modest fall in aggregate wages is inconsistent with the flexibility of wages we observe across US states. Finally, we show that our methodology yields different conclusions about the causes of aggregate employment and wage dynamics between 2007 and 2014 than either estimating our model with aggregate data alone or performing back-of-the-envelope calculations that directly extrapolate from well-identified regional elasticities.

The working paper can be found here.

The research brief can be found here.

Read working paper on SSRN