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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    1. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, January.
    2. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    3. Dale Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2007. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 327-347, July.
    4. Fujita, Shigeru & Ramey, Garey, 2007. "Job matching and propagation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(11), pages 3671-3698, November.
    5. JuanJ. Dolado & Marcel Jansen & JuanF. Jimeno, 2009. "On-the-Job Search in a Matching Model with Heterogeneous Jobs and Workers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 200-228, January.
    6. 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.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Arseneau, David M. & Epstein, Brendan, 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," 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. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:25-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

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