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

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  • Brendan Epstein

Abstract

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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  • Brendan Epstein, 2012. "Heterogeneous workers, optimal job seeking, and aggregate labor market dynamics," International Finance Discussion Papers 1053, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1053
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Arseneau & Brendan Epstein, 2014. "Offshoring, Mismatch, and Labor Market Outcomes," International Finance Discussion Papers 1118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Föll, Tobias, 2017. "Financial Constraints, Wage Rigidity, and the Labor Market," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168080, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Garín, Julio, 2015. "Borrowing constraints, collateral fluctuations, and the labor market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 112-130.
    4. Epstein, Brendan & Finkelstein Shapiro, Alan, 2017. "Employment and firm heterogeneity, capital allocation, and countercyclical labor market policies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 25-41.
    5. Merkl, Christian & van Rens, Thijs, 2019. "Selective hiring and welfare analysis in labor market models," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 117-130.
    6. Michael W. L. Elsby & Ryan Michaels & David Ratner, 2015. "The Beveridge Curve: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 571-630, September.

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