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Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Labor market polarization over the business cycle
One of the most important long-run trends in the U.S. labor market is polarization, defined as the relative growth of employment in high-skill jobs (such as management and technical positions) and low-skill jobs (such as food-service and janitorial work) amid the concurrent decline in middle-skill jobs (such as clerical, construction, manufacturing, and retail occupations). Middle-skill job losses typically result from outsourcing labor to lower-wage countries or from substituting automated technologies for routine tasks. Economists are now beginning to study how long-run polarization might be related to short-run business cycles, but doing so requires the construction of quarterly datasets with consistent occupational data over long periods of time. The authors of this paper construct a new dataset of occupational employment and unemployment that extends from 1947:Q3 to 2013:Q4. Using this dataset, along with more-recent individual-level data from the Current Population Survey, the authors study how recessions typically affect employment in various occupations, what employment alternatives are available to middle-skill workers who become unemployed, and whether the ongoing erosion of middle-skill job opportunities is related to long-term declines in labor force participation among men.
Cite this item
Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, Labor market polarization over the business cycle, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Working Papers 14-16, 26 Dec 2014.
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
- J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
- J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
- J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
- J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
This item with handle RePEc:fip:fedbwp:14-16
is also listed on EconPapers
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