IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

U.S. Unemployment Duration: Has Long Become Longer or Short Become Shorter?

  • Pedro Portugal

The U.S. labor market has been experiencing unprecedented high average unemployment duration. The shift in the unemployment duration distribution can be traced back to the early nineties. In this study, censored quantile regression methods are employed to analyze the changes in the U.S. unemployment duration distribution. We explore the decomposition method proposed by Machado and Mata (2005) to disentangle the contribution of the changes generated by the covariate distribution and by the conditional distribution. The data used in this inquiry are taken from the nationally representative Displaced Worker Surveys of 1988 and 1998. We provide evidence that the change in the unemployment duration distribution is mainly produced by the opposing effects of a sharp rise in job-to-job transition rates and an increased sensitivity of unemployment duration to unemployment rates. Compositional changes in the labor force played a limited role. We rationalize our findings by arguing that improved screening technology is likely to be the relevant underlying mechanism at work.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Czech National Bank, Research Department in its series Working Papers with number 2007/17.

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cnb:wpaper:2007/17
Contact details of provider: Postal: Na Prikope 28, 115 03 Prague 1
Phone: 00420 2 2442 1111
Fax: 00420 2 2421 8522
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transitions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 493-508.
  2. Bassett, Gilbert W. & Koenker, Roger W., 1986. "Strong Consistency of Regression Quantiles and Related Empirical Processes," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 191-201, August.
  3. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
  4. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Diamond, Peter A, 1994. "Ranking, Unemployment Duration, and Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 417-34, July.
  5. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
  6. John T. Addison & Pedro Portugal, 1992. "Advance Notice and Unemployment: New Evidence from the 1988 Displaced Worker Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(4), pages 645-664, July.
  7. David H. Autor & David Scarborough, 2004. "Will Job Testing Harm Minority Workers?," NBER Working Papers 10763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  9. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
  10. Susan N. Houseman, . "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh2001, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  11. William J. Baumol & Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Speed of Technical Progress and Length of the Average Interjob Period," Macroeconomics 9805022, EconWPA.
  12. Katharine G. Abraham & Robert Shimer, 2001. "Changes in Unemployment Duration and Labor Force Attachment," NBER Working Papers 8513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "The High-Pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(1), pages 1-88.
  14. Toshihiko Mukoyama & Aysegül Sahin, 2004. "Why did the average duration of unemployment become so much longer?," Staff Reports 194, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  15. Powell, James L., 1986. "Censored regression quantiles," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 143-155, June.
  16. John T. Addison & McKinley L. Blackburn, 1994. "The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 181-190, Winter.
  17. Kuhn, Peter & Skuterud, Mikal Skuterud, 2002. "Internet Job Search and Unemployment Durations," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8583s24x, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  18. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1990. "The Cyclical Behovior of the Gross Flows of U.S. Workers," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(2), pages 85-156.
  19. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin Murphy & Robert Topel, 2002. "Current Unemployment, Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 79-136.
  20. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Job Loss, Job Finding, and Unemployment in the U.S. Economy Over the Past Fifty Years," NBER Working Papers 11678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," NBER Working Papers 11627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. David H. Autor, 2000. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," NBER Working Papers 7637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Bilias, Yannis & Chen, Songnian & Ying, Zhiliang, 2000. "Simple resampling methods for censored regression quantiles," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 373-386, December.
  24. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1987. "On the Distributional Shape of Unemployment Duration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 521-26, August.
  25. Mark C. Berger & Dan Black & Jeffrey Smith, 2000. "Evaluating Profiling as a Means of Allocating Government Services," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 200018, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  26. Robert G. Valletta, 1998. "Changes in the structure and duration of U.S. unemployment, 1967-1998," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 29-40.
  27. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cnb:wpaper:2007/17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jan Babecky)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.