The recent U.S. expansion has provided employment experience to individuals at tail of the skill distribution. Will these opportunities bestow persistent benefits in the form of greater future employability? Using synthetic cohorts constructed from the CPS, this paper estimates the degree of persistence in cohort-level employment rates in excess of persistence in aggregate macroeconomic conditions. This approach is in some ways superior to testing for hysteresis in the aggregate unemployment rate because it abstracts away from compositional changes in the labor force by focusing on particular demographic groups. After controlling for aggregate conditions, there is little evidence of significant persistence in cohorts' employment rates; the effects of aggregate shocks are essentially dissipated within three years. However, economic conditions that prevailed when the cohorts first entered the labor market significantly affect the average lifetime employment rate of cohorts of less-educated men.
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