Understanding Declining Fluidity in the U.S. Labor Market
We document a clear downward trend in labor market fluidity that is common across a variety of measures of worker and job turnover. This trend dates to at least the early 1980s if not somewhat earlier. Next we pull together evidence on a variety of hypotheses that might explain this downward trend. It is only partly related to population demographics and is not due to the secular shift in industrial composition. Moreover, the decline in labor market fluidity seems unlikely to have been caused by an improvement in worker-firm matching, the formalization of hiring practices, or an increase in ...
Heterogeneity and Unemployment Dynamics
This paper develops new estimates of flows into and out of unemployment that allow for unobserved heterogeneity across workers as well as direct effects of unemployment duration on unemployment-exit probabilities. Unlike any previous paper in this literature, we develop a complete dynamic statistical model that allows us to measure the contribution of different shocks to the short-run, medium-run, and long-run variance of unemployment as well as to specific historical episodes. We find that changes in the inflows of newly unemployed are the key driver of economic recessions and identify an ...
Employment Dynamics in a Signaling Model with Workers' Incentives
Many firms adjust employment in a "lumpy" manner -- infrequently and in large bursts. In this paper, I show that lumpy adjustments can arise from concerns about the incentives of remaining workers. Specifically, I develop a model in which a firm's productivity depends on its workers' effort and workers' income prospects depend on the firm's profitability. I use this model to analyze the consequences of demand shocks that are observed by the firm but not by its workers, who can only try to infer the firm's profitability from its employment decisions. I show that the resulting signaling model ...
The Nature of Household Labor Income Risk
What is the nature of labor income risk facing households? We answer this question using detailed administrative data on household earnings from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. By analyzing total household labor earnings as well as each member's earnings, we offer several new findings. One, households face substantially less risk than males in isolation. Second, households face roughly half the countercyclical increase in risk that males face. Third, spousal labor income ameliorates household earnings risk through both extensive and intensive margins.
Complex-Task Biased Technological Change and the Labor Market
In this paper we study the relationship between task complexity and the occupational wage- and employment structure. Complex tasks are defined as those requiring higher-order skills, such as the ability to abstract, solve problems, make decisions, or communicate effectively. We measure the task complexity of an occupation by performing Principal Component Analysis on a broad set of occupational descriptors in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) data.We establish four main empirical facts for the U.S. over the 1980-2005 time period that are robust to the inclusion of a detailed set of ...
Heterogeneity in the Dynamics of Disaggregate Unemployment
This paper explores the role that unobserved heterogeneity within an observed category plays in the dynamics of disaggregate unemployment and in the cross-sectional differences across individuals of the duration of unemployment spells. The distribution of unobserved heterogeneity is characterized as a mixture of two distributions with each mean and weight determined by the inflows and outflows of workers with unobserved types H and L, which are identified based on the nonlinear state-space model of Ahn and Hamilton (2016). I found that the contribution of each factor to the dynamics of ...
Adjusted Employment-to-Population Ratio as an Indicator of Labor Market Strength
As a measure of labor market strength, the raw employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) confounds employment outcomes with labor supply behavior. Movement in the EPOP depends on the relative movements of the employment rate (one minus the unemployment rate) and the labor force participation rate. This paper proposes an adjustment to the calculation of the EPOP using individual microdata to account for both individual characteristics and the probability of labor force participation, which can used to assess the strength of the labor market.
Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects
Since 2007, the labor force participation rate has fallen from about 66 percent to about 63 percent. The sources of this decline have been widely debated among academics and policymakers, with some arguing that the participation rate is depressed due to weak labor demand while others argue that the decline was inevitable due to structural forces such as the aging of the population. In this paper, we use a variety of approaches to assess reasons for the decline in participation. Although these approaches yield somewhat different estimates of the extent to which the recent decline in ...
Hysteresis in Employment among Disadvantaged Workers
We examine hysteresis in employment-to-population ratios among less-educated men using state-level data. Results from dynamic panel regressions indicate a moderate degree of hysteresis: The effects of past employment rates on subsequent employment rates can be substantial but essentially dissipate within three years. This finding is robust to a number of variations. We find no substantial asymmetry in the persistence of high vs. low employment rates. The cumulative effect of hysteresis in the business cycle surrounding the 2001 recession was mildly positive, while the effect in the cycle ...
Labor market exit and re-entry: is the United States poised for a rebound in the labor force participation rate?
The U.S. labor force participation rate has declined sharply since 2007?far faster than can be explained by demographic shifts in the population. This brief analyzes the re-entry probability for individuals who exit the labor force as well as the financial demographic, and employment characteristics of these individuals. The vast majority of individuals under 45 years of age re-enter the labor market within four years of exiting; however, the re-entry rate drops substantially for 50?54 year-olds and 55?59 year-olds. Those individuals who exit the labor market appear more marginally attached ...