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Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2014, Volume 29

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  • Christopher L. Foote
  • Richard W. Ryan

Abstract

Job losses during the Great Recession were concentrated among middle-skill workers, the same group that over the long run has suffered the most from automation and international trade. How might long-run occupational polarization be related to cyclical changes in middle-skill employment? We find that middle-skill occupations have traditionally been more cyclical than other occupations, in part because of the volatile industries that tend to employ middle-skill workers. Unemployed middle-skill workers also appear to have few attractive or feasible employment alternatives outside of their skill class, and the drop in male participation rates during the past several decades can be explained in part by an erosion of middle-skill job opportunities. Taken together, these results imply that a formal labor market model relating polarization to middle-skill employment fluctuations should include industry-level employment effects and a labor force participation margin as well as pure job-search considerations. The results thus provide encouragement for a growing literature that integrates "macro-labor" search models with "macro-macro" models featuring differential industry cyclicalities and convex preferences over consumption and leisure.
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Suggested Citation

  • Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, 2014. "Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2014, Volume 29, pages 371-413 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13427
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan Willis & Didem Tuzemen, 2017. "How Has Job Polarization Contributed to the Increase in Non-Participation of Prime-Age Men?," 2017 Meeting Papers 1516, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Gregory Verdugo & Guilllaume Allègre, 2017. "Labour force participation and job polarization : evidence from Europe during the Great Recession," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2017-16, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    3. Yongseok Shin & Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee & Sangmin Aum, 2017. "Waxing Jobs and Waning Industries," 2017 Meeting Papers 1618, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Brad Hershbein & Lisa B. Kahn, 2016. "Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings," NBER Working Papers 22762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stephanie Aaronson & Tomaz Cajner & Bruce Fallick & Felix Galbis-Reig & Christopher Smith & William Wascher, 2014. "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 197-275.
    6. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2016. "The extent and cyclicality of career changes: Evidence for the U.K," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 18-41.
    7. Paul Gaggl & Sylvia Kaufmann, 2014. "The Cyclical Component of Labor Market Polarization and Jobless Recoveries in the US," Working Papers 14.03, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
    8. Brian Nolan & Sarah Voitchovsky, 2016. "Job loss by wage level: lessons from the Great Recession in Ireland," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-29, December.
    9. Modestino, Alicia Sasser & Shoag, Daniel & Ballance, Joshua, 2015. "Upskilling: Do Employers Demand Greater Skill When Workers Are Plentiful?," Working Paper Series rwp15-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Jüßen, Falko & Bredemeier, Christian & Winkler, Roland, 2017. "Fiscal Policy and Occupational Employment Dynamics," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168193, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Shim, Myungkyu & Yang, Hee-Seung, 2016. "New stylized facts on occupational employment and their implications: Evidence from consistent employment data," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 402-415.
    12. Hee-Seung Yang & Myungkyu Shim, 2013. "Job Polarization : Market Responses to Interindustry Wage Differentials," 2013 Meeting Papers 1200, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:463-:d:131183 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Gustavsson, Magnus, 2017. "Is Job Polarization a Recent Phenomenon? Evidence from Sweden, 1950–2013, and a Comparison to the United States," Working Paper Series 2017:14, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    15. Guido Matias Cortes & Nir Jaimovich & Christopher J. Nekarda & Henry E. Siu, 2014. "The Micro and Macro of Disappearing Routine Jobs: A Flows Approach," NBER Working Papers 20307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    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
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • 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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