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Workweek flexibility and hours variation


  • Andrew Figura


I use the term workweek flexibility to describe the ease of changing output by altering the number of hours per worker. Despite the fact that workweek flexibility is potentially important for understanding the cyclical behavior of marginal cost and prices, as well as cyclical movements in hours and output, it has received little attention. Using insights from a simple model of employment and the workweek, I use mean workweek levels to identify the effect of workweek flexibility and then show that it is an important determinant of firms' marginal cost schedules and the variance of industry workweeks and hours. I use the same identification scheme with panel data to see if an increase in workweek flexibility has been behind the rise in hours per worker over the past 30 years and find that it has not.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Figura, 2004. "Workweek flexibility and hours variation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-59, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-59

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooper, Russell & Haltiwanger, John & Willis, Jonathan L., 2015. "Dynamics of labor demand: Evidence from plant-level observations and aggregate implications," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 37-50.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-689, September.
    3. Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Does the Statutory Overtime Premium Discourage Long Workweeks?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 530-551, April.
    4. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, January.
    5. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-855, December.
    6. Glosser, Stuart M. & Golden, Lonnie, 1997. "Average work hours as a leading economic variable in US manufacturing industries," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 175-195, June.
    7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Stephen J. Trejo, 2000. "The Demand for Hours of Labor: Direct Evidence from California," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 38-47, February.
    8. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-137, March.
    9. Lonnie Golden, 1990. "The Insensitive Workweek: Trends and Determinants of Adjustment in Average Hours," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 79-110, September.
    10. Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538-538.
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