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Human Capital Dynamics and the U.S. Labor Market

Listed author(s):
  • Fang, Lei

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)

  • Nie, Jun

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)

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.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 2014-2.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2014
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2014-02
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  1. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 2007. "Understanding European unemployment with a representative family model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2180-2204, November.
  2. Henry S. Farber, 2011. "Job Loss in the Great Recession: Historial Perspective from the Displaced Workers Survey, 1984-2010," Working Papers 1309, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Nakajima, Makoto, 2012. "A quantitative analysis of unemployment benefit extensions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(7), pages 686-702.
  4. Gary Solon & Ryan Michaels & Michael W. L. Elsby, 2009. "The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 84-110, January.
  5. Garín, Julio, 2015. "Borrowing constraints, collateral fluctuations, and the labor market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 112-130.
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  8. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1998. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 514-550, June.
  9. Lien Laureys, 2014. "The Cost of Human Capital Depreciation during Unemployment," Discussion Papers 1420, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
  10. Jun Nie, 2010. "Training or search? evidence and an equilibrium model," Research Working Paper RWP 10-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  11. Robert G. Valletta & Katherine Kuang, 2010. "Extended unemployment and UI benefits," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue apr19.
  12. Kenneth A. Couch & Dana W. Placzek, 2010. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 572-589, March.
  13. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2008. "Two Questions about European Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 1-29, 01.
  14. Henry S. Farber, 2011. "Job Loss in the Great Recession: Historical Perspective from the Displaced Workers Survey, 1984-2010," NBER Working Papers 17040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Tomaz Cajner & Isabel Cairo, 2011. "Human Capital and Unemployment Dynamics: Why More Educated Workers Enjoy Greater Employment Stability," 2011 Meeting Papers 1145, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Yongsung Chang & Joao F. Gomes & Frank Schorfheide, 2002. "Learning-by-Doing as a Propagation Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1498-1520, December.
  17. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 2007. "Understanding European unemployment with matching and search-island models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2139-2179, November.
  18. Cooper, Daniel, 2014. "The effect of unemployment duration on future earnings and other outcomes," Working Papers 13-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  19. Shigeru Fujita, 2010. "Economic effects of the unemployment insurance benefit," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q4, pages 20-27.
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