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Human Capital Dynamics and the U.S. Labor Market

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  • Fang, Lei

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)

  • Nie, Jun

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)

Abstract

The high U.S. unemployment rate after the Great Recession is usually considered to be a result of changes in factors influencing either the demand side or the supply side of the labor market. However, no matter what factors have caused the changes in the unemployment rate, these factors should have influenced workers' and firms' decisions. Therefore, it is important to take into account workers' endogenous responses to changes in various factors when seeking to understand how these factors affect the unemployment rate. To address this issue, we estimate a Mortensen-Pissarides style of labor-market matching model with endogenous separation decisions and stochastic changes in workers' human capital. We study how agents' endogenous choices vary with changes in the exogenous shocks and changes in labor-market policy in the context of human capital dynamics. We reach four main findings. First, once workers have accounted for and are able to optimally respond to possible human capital loss, the unemployment rate in an economy with human capital loss during unemployment will not be higher than in an economy with no human capital loss. The reason is that the increase in the unemployment rate led by human capital loss is more than offset by workers' endogenous responses to prevent them from being unemployed. Second, human capital accumulation on the job is more important than human capital loss during unemployment for both the unemployment rate and output. Third, workers' endogenous separation rates will decline when job-finding rates fall. Fourth, taking into account the endogenous responses, unemployment insurance extensions contributed 0.5 percentage point to the increase in the aggregate unemployment rate in the 2008–12 period.

Suggested Citation

  • Fang, Lei & Nie, Jun, 2014. "Human Capital Dynamics and the U.S. Labor Market," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2014-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2014-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Huo, Zhen & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2016. "Financial Frictions, Asset Prices, and the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 11544, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor & Huo, Zhen, 2016. "Financial Frictions, Asset Prices, and the Great Recession," Staff Report 526, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; unemployment insurance benefits; matching model; human capital; labor market;

    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
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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