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Labor market polarization over the business cycle

Author

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  • Foote, Christopher L.

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Ryan, Richard W.

    () (University of Michigan)

Abstract

One of the most important long-run trends in the U.S. labor market is polarization, defined as the relative growth of employment in high-skill jobs (such as management and technical positions) and low-skill jobs (such as food-service and janitorial work) amid the concurrent decline in middle-skill jobs (such as clerical, construction, manufacturing, and retail occupations). Middle-skill job losses typically result from outsourcing labor to lower-wage countries or from substituting automated technologies for routine tasks. Economists are now beginning to study how long-run polarization might be related to short-run business cycles, but doing so requires the construction of quarterly datasets with consistent occupational data over long periods of time. The authors of this paper construct a new dataset of occupational employment and unemployment that extends from 1947:Q3 to 2013:Q4. Using this dataset, along with more-recent individual-level data from the Current Population Survey, the authors study how recessions typically affect employment in various occupations, what employment alternatives are available to middle-skill workers who become unemployed, and whether the ongoing erosion of middle-skill job opportunities is related to long-term declines in labor force participation among men.

Suggested Citation

  • Foote, Christopher L. & Ryan, Richard W., 2014. "Labor market polarization over the business cycle," Working Papers 14-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:14-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory Verdugo & Guillaume Allegre, 2017. "Labour force participation and job polarization : evidence from Europe during the great recession," Sciences Po publications 2017-16, Sciences Po.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Brad J. Hershbein & Lisa B. Kahn, 2016. "Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 16-254, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    6. Yongseok Shin & Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee & Sangmin Aum, 2017. "Waxing Jobs and Waning Industries," 2017 Meeting Papers 1618, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. 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.
    8. Hee-Seung Yang & Myungkyu Shim, 2013. "Job Polarization : Market Responses to Interindustry Wage Differentials," 2013 Meeting Papers 1200, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. repec:eee:jeborg:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:141-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:463-:d:131183 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.

    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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