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More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations


  • Dale Mortensen

    (Northwestern University)

  • Eva Nagypal

    (Northwestern University)


Shimer (2005a) argues that the textbook equilibrium search model of unemployment explains less than 10% of the volatility in U.S. vacancies and unemployment when fluctuations are driven by productivity shocks. His paper as well as other recent work inspired by it are reviewed and extended here. Although there seems to be excessive feedback from the job-finding rate to the wage built into the Nash bargaining mechanism assumed to determine wages in the model, we argue that he and others overemphasize the need for wage rigidity to explain the data on labor-market fluctuations. Indeed, a modified version of the model can explain the magnitude of the empirical relationship between the vacancy-unemployment ratio and labor productivity when wages are the outcome of a strategic bargaining game and when the elasticity of the matching function and the opportunity cost of a match are set at reasonable values. The modified model also explains almost two thirds of the volatility in the ratio relative to that of productivity when separation shocks are taken into account, as well as the strong negative correlation between vacancies and unemployment found in Shimer's data. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Dale Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2007. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 327-347, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:06-123
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    2. John Kennan, 2010. "Private Information, Wage Bargaining and Employment Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 633-664.
    3. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    4. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    5. Christopher A. Pissarides & Barbara Petrongolo, 2001. "Looking into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 390-431, June.
    6. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "New developments in models of search in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 39, pages 2567-2627 Elsevier.
    7. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
    8. Devine, Theresa J. & Kiefer, Nicolas M., 1991. "Empirical Labor Economics: The Search Approach," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195059366, June.
    9. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1994. "Search Unemployment with On-the-job Search," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 457-475.
    10. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-283, April.
    11. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2008. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1653-1674, September.
    12. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "Job reallocation, employment fluctuations and unemployment," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1171-1228 Elsevier.
    13. Shimer, Robert, 2006. "On-the-job search and strategic bargaining," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 811-830, May.
    14. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    15. Robert Shimer, 2004. "The Consequences of Rigid Wages in Search Models," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 469-479, 04/05.
    16. Giuseppe Moscarini, 2005. "Job Matching and the Wage Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 481-516, March.
    17. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
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    More about this item


    Labor-market search; Unemployment and vacancies volatility; Job-finding rate; Productivity shocks; Wage rigidity;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • 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


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