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 ...
Dynamic Beveridge Curve Accounting
We develop a dynamic decomposition of the empirical Beveridge curve, i.e., the level of vacancies conditional on unemployment. Using a standard model, we show that three factors can shift the Beveridge curve: reduced-form matching efficiency, changes in the job separation rate, and out-of-steady-state dynamics. We find that the shift in the Beveridge curve during and after the Great Recession was due to all three factors, and each factor taken separately had a large effect. Comparing the pre-2010 period to the post-2010 period, a fall in matching efficiency and out-of-steady-state dynamics ...
Assessing the Change in Labor Market Conditions
This paper describes a dynamic factor model of 19 U.S. labor market indicators, covering the broad categories of unemployment and underemployment, employment, workweeks, wages, vacancies, hiring, layoffs, quits, and surveys of consumers' and businesses' perceptions. The resulting labor market conditions index (LMCI) is a useful tool for gauging the change in labor market conditions. In addition, the model provides a way to organize discussions of the signal value of different labor market indicators in situations when they might be sending diverse signals. The model takes the greatest signal ...
The intensive and extensive margins of real wage adjustment
Using 35 years of data from the Current Population Survey we decompose fluctuations in real median weekly earnings growth into the part driven by movements in the intensive margin-wage growth of individuals continuously full-time employed-and movements in the extensive margin-wage differences of those moving into and out of full-time employment. The relative importance of these two margins varies significantly over the business cycle. When labor markets are tight, continuously full-time employed workers drive wage growth. During labor market downturns, the procyclicality of the intensive ...
Unemployment Paths in a Pandemic Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the U.S. economy and labor market. We assess the initial spike in unemployment due to the virus response and possible paths for the official unemployment rate through 2021. Substantial uncertainty surrounds the path for measured unemployment, depending on the path of the virus and containment measures and their impact on reported job search activity. We assess potential unemployment paths based on historical patterns of monthly flows in and out of unemployment, adjusted for unique features of the virus economy. The possible paths vary widely, but absent ...
House Lock and Structural Unemployment
A recent decline in geographic mobility in the United States may have been caused in part by falling house prices, through the ?lock in? effects of financial constraints faced by households whose housing debt exceeds the market value of their home. I analyze the relationship between such ?house lock? and the elevated levels and persistence of unemployment during the recent recession and its aftermath, using data that covers the period through the end of 2011. Because house lock will extend job search in the local labor market for homeowners whose home value has declined, I focus on ...
Approximating Multisector New Keynesian Models
We show that a calibrated three-sector model with a suitably chosen distribution of price stickiness can closely approximate the dynamic properties of New Keynesian models with a much larger number of sectors. The parameters of the approximate three-sector distribution are such that both the approximate and the original distributions share the same (i) average frequency of price changes, (ii) cross-sectional average of durations of price spells, (iii) cross-sectional standard deviation of durations of price spells, (iv) the cross-sectional skewness of durations of price spells, and (v) ...
Shifts in the Beveridge curve
This note puts the current shift in the Beveridge curve into context by examining the behavior of the curve since 1950. Outward shifts in the Beveridge curve have been common occurrences during U.S. recoveries. By itself, the presence of a shift has not been a good predictor of whether the unemployment rate at the end of the expansion following a shift was higher or lower than that in the preceding expansion.
Asset Prices and Unemployment Fluctuations
Recent critiques have demonstrated that existing attempts to account for the unemployment volatility puzzle of search models are inconsistent with the procylicality of the opportunity cost of employment, the cyclicality of wages, and the volatility of risk-free rates. We propose a model that is immune to these critiques and solves this puzzle by allowing for preferences that generate time-varying risk over the cycle, and so account for observed asset pricing fluctuations, and for human capital accumulation on the job, consistent with existing estimates of returns to labor market experience. ...
Labor Market Dynamics and Development
We build a dataset of harmonized rotating panel labor force surveys covering 42 countries across a wide range of development and document three new empirical findings on labor market dynamics. First, labor market flows (job-finding rates, employment-exit rates, and job-to-job transition rates) are two to three times higher in the poorest as compared with the richest countries. Second, employment hazards in poorer countries decline more sharply with tenure; much of their high turnover can be attributed to high separation rates among workers with low tenure. Third, wage-tenure profiles are much ...