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Employment Adjustment Costs and Establishment Characteristics


  • Lucia Foster


Microeconomic employment adjustment costs affect not only employment adjustments at the micro level but may also profoundly impact aggregate employment dynamics. This paper sheds light on the nature of these microeconomic employment adjustment costs and quantifies their impact on aggregate employment dynamics. The empirical exercises in the paper analyze the differences in employment adjustments by establishment characteristics within a hazard model framework using micro data for approximately 10,000 U.S. manufacturing plants. I find that employment adjustments vary systematically by establishment characteristics; moreover, these variations suggest that employment adjustment costs reflect the technology of the plant, the skill of its workforce, and the plant's access to capital markets. Concerning the structure of the adjustment costs, the employment adjustments have significant nonlinearities and asymmetries consistent with nonconvex, asymmetric adjustment costs. Specifically, employment adjustment behavior shows substantial inertia in the face of large employment surpluses, varied adjustment behavior for small deviations from desired employment, and (S,s)-type of bimodal adjustments in response to large employment shortages. Finally, the micro level heterogeneity, asymmetries, and nonlinearities significantly impact sectoral and aggregate employment dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucia Foster, 1999. "Employment Adjustment Costs and Establishment Characteristics," Working Papers 99-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:99-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. C. Higson & S. Holly & P. Kattuman & S. Platis, 2004. "The Business Cycle, Macroeconomic Shocks and the Cross-Section: The Growth of UK Quoted Companies," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(281), pages 299-318, May.

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