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Heterogeneous workers, optimal job seeking, and aggregate labor market dynamics

  • Brendan Epstein

In the United States, the aggregate vacancy-unemployment (V/U) ratio is strongly procyclical, and a large fraction of its adjustment associated with changes in productivity is sluggish. The latter is entirely unexplained by the benchmark homogeneous-agent model of equilibrium unemployment theory. I show that endogenous search and worker-side horizontal heterogeneity in production capacity can be important in accounting for this propagation puzzle. Driven by differences in unemployed and on-the-job seekers' search incentives, the probability that any given firm with a job opening matches with a worker endowed with a comparative advantage in that job exhibits a stage of procyclical slow-moving adjustment. Consequently, so do the expected gains from posting vacancies and, hence, the V/U ratio. The model has channels through which the majority of both the V/U ratio's sluggish-adjustment properties and its elasticity with respect to output per worker can be accounted for.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 1053.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1053
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  1. Chassamboulli Andri, 2011. "Cyclical Upgrading of Labor and Employment Differences across Skill Groups," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-42, May.
  2. Dolado, Juan J. & Jansen, Marcel & Jimeno, Juan F, 2003. "On-the-Job Search in a Matching Model with Heterogeneous Jobs and Workers," CEPR Discussion Papers 4094, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Fujita, Shigeru & Ramey, Garey, 2007. "Job matching and propagation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(11), pages 3671-3698, November.
  4. Hagedorn, Marcus & Manovskii, Iourii, 2008. "The cyclical behavior of equilibrium unemployment and vacancies revisited," Working Paper Series 0853, European Central Bank.
  5. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  6. Dale T. Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 11692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael Pries, 2008. "Worker Heterogeneity and Labor Market Volatility in Matching Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 664-678, July.
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