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Local market scale and the pattern of job changes among young men

  • Christopher H. Wheeler

In finding a career, workers tend to make numerous job changes, with the majority of 'complex' changes (i.e. those involving changes of industry) occurring relatively early in their working lives. This pattern suggests that workers tend to experiment with different types of work before settling on the one they like best. Of course, since the extent of economic diversity differs substantially across local labor markets in the U.S. (e.g. counties and cities), this career search process may exhibit important differences depending on the size of a worker’s local market. This paper explores this issue using a sample of young male workers drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. The results uncover two rather striking patterns. First, the likelihood that a worker changes industries rises with the size and diversity of his local labor market when considering the first job change he makes. Second, however, this association gradually decreases as a worker makes greater numbers of job changes. By the time he makes his fourth change, the likelihood of changing industries significantly decreases with the scale and diversity of the local market. Both results are consistent with the idea that cities play an important role in the job matching process.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2005-033.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2005-033
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  1. Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Learning in Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 254-277, September.
  2. Gan, Li & Zhang, Qinghua, 2006. "The thick market effect on local unemployment rate fluctuations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 127-152, July.
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  4. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1999. "Evidence On Growth, Increasing Returns, And The Extent Of The Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1025-1045, August.
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  7. Alperovich Gershon, 1993. "City Size and the Rate and Duration of Unemployment: Evidence from Israeli Data," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 347-357, November.
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  10. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
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  12. Neal, Derek, 1999. "The Complexity of Job Mobility among Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 237-61, April.
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  14. Johnson, William R, 1978. "A Theory of Job Shopping," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 261-78, May.
  15. Hoyt Bleakley & Ann E. Ferris & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1999. "New data on worker flows during business cycles," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 49-76.
  16. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-42, April.
  17. Derek Neal, 1998. "The Link between Ability and Specialization: An Explanation for Observed Correlations between Wages and Mobility Rates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 173-200.
  18. Simon, Curtis J, 1988. "Frictional Unemployment and the Role of Industrial Diversity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(4), pages 715-28, November.
  19. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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