Quits, worker recruitment, and firm growth: theory and evidence
The authors use establishment data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) to study the micro-level behavior of worker quits and their relation to recruitment and establishment growth. They find that quits decline with establishment growth, playing the most important role at slowly contracting firms. They also find a robust, positive relationship between an establishment's reported hires and vacancies and the incidence of a quit. This relationship occurs despite the finding that quits decline, and hires and vacancies increase, with establishment growth. The authors characterize these dynamics within a labor-market search model with on-the-job search, a convex cost of creating new positions, and multi-worker establishments. The model distinguishes between recruiting to replace a quitting worker and recruiting for a new position, and relates this distinction to firm performance. Beyond giving rise to a varying quit propensity, the model generates endogenously determined thresholds for firm contraction (through both layoffs and attrition), worker replacement, and firm expansion. The continuum of decision rules derived from these thresholds produces rich firm-level dynamics and quit behavior that are broadly consistent with the empirical evidence of the JOLTS data.
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