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Aggregate employment dynamics and lumpy adjustment costs

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

Abstract

This study examines what one can infer from aggregate time-series of employment under the assumption that adjustment at the micro level is discrete because of lumpy adjustment costs. The research uses various sets of quarterly and monthly data for the United States and imposes assumptions about how sectoral dispersion in output shocks affects adjustment through aggregation. I find no consistent evidence of any effect of sectoral shocks on the path of aggregate employment. I generate artificial aggregate time series from microeconomic processes in which firms adjust employment discretely. They produce the same inferences as the actual data. Standard methods of estimating equations describing the time path of aggregate employment yield inferences about differences in the size of adjustment costs that are incorrect and inconsistent with the true differences at the micro level. This simulation suggests that the large literature on employment dynamics based on industry or macro data cannot inform us about the size of adjustment costs, and that such data cannot yield useful information on variations in adjustment costs over time or among countries.
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Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1990. "Aggregate employment dynamics and lumpy adjustment costs," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 93-129, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:33:y:1990:i::p:93-129
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    Cited by:

    1. Mulligan Casey B, 2001. "Aggregate Implications of Indivisible Labor," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-35, April.
    2. Robert G. King & Julia K. Thomas, 2006. "Partial Adjustment Without Apology," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 779-809, August.
    3. Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Microfoundations and macro implications of indivisible labor," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 126, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1992. "A General Model of Dynamic Labor Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 733-737, November.
    5. Yann Nicolas & Claude Mathieu, 2006. "Coûts d'ajustement de la demande de travail : une comparaison entre la France et la République tchèque," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 173(2), pages 135-152.
    6. Varejão, José & Portugal, Pedro, 2007. "Spatial and Temporal Aggregation in the Estimation of Labor Demand Functions," IZA Discussion Papers 2701, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Kölling, Arnd & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2001. "Bremst das Schwerbehindertengesetz die Arbeitsplatzdynamik in Kleinbetrieben?," Discussion Papers 4, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.

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