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Author:Wee, Shu Lin 

Discussion Paper
Escaping Unemployment Traps

Economic activity has remained subdued following the Great Recession. One interpretation of the listless recovery is that recessions inflict permanent damage on an economy?s productive capacity. For example, extended periods of high unemployment can lead to skill losses among workers, reducing human capital and lowering future output. This notion that temporary recessions have long-lasting consequences is often termed hysteresis. Another explanation for sluggish growth is the influential secular stagnation hypothesis, which attributes slow growth to long-term changes in the economy?s ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20161116

Report
Replacement hiring and the productivity-wage gap

A large and growing share of hires in the United States are replacement hires. This increase coincides with a growing productivity-wage gap. We connect these trends by building a model where firms post long-lived vacancies and engage in on-the-job search for more productive workers. These features improve a firm's bargaining position while raising workers' job insecurity and the wedge between hiring and meeting rates. All three channels lower wages while raising productivity. Quantitatively, increased replacement hiring explains half the increase in the productivity-wage gap. The socially ...
Staff Reports , Paper 860

Report
Rational inattention in hiring decisions

We provide an information-based theory of matching efficiency fluctuations. Rationally inattentive firms have limited capacity to process information and cannot perfectly identify suitable applicants. During recessions, higher losses from hiring unsuitable workers cause firms to be more selective in hiring. When firms cannot obtain sufficient information about applicants, they err on the side of caution and accept fewer applicants to minimize losses from hiring unsuitable workers. Pro-cyclical acceptance rates drive a wedge between meeting and hiring rates, explaining fluctuations in matching ...
Staff Reports , Paper 878

Report
Slow recoveries and unemployment traps: monetary policy in a time of hysteresis

We analyze monetary policy in a model where temporary shocks can permanently scar the economy's productive capacity. Unemployed workers? skill losses generate multiple steady-state unemployment rates. When monetary policy is constrained by the zero bound, large shocks reduce hiring to a point where the economy recovers slowly at best?at worst, it falls into a permanent unemployment trap. Since monetary policy is powerless to escape such traps ex post, it must avoid them ex ante. The model quantitatively accounts for the slow U.S. recovery following the Great Recession, and suggests that lack ...
Staff Reports , Paper 831

Working Paper
Job Applications and Labor Market Flows

Unemployment inflows have declined sharply since the 1980s while unemployment outflows have remained mostly steady despite a rise in workers' applications over time. Using a random search model of multiple applications with costly information, we show how rising applications incentivize more firms to acquire information, improving the realized distribution of match qualities. Higher concentrations of high productivity matches reduce the incidence of endogenous separations, causing unemployment inflow rates to fall. Quantitatively, our model replicates the relative change in inflow and outflow ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-023

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