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The Long-Run Demand for Labor: Estimates from Census Establishment Data

Author

Listed:
  • Dunne, T.
  • Roberts, M.

Abstract

This paper estimates long-run demand functions for production workers, production worker hours, and nonproduction workers using micro data from U.S. establishment surveys. The paper focuses on estimation of the wage and output elasticities of labor demand using data on over 41,000 U.S. manufacturing plants in 1975 and more than 30,000 plants in 1981. Particular attention is focused on the problems of unobserved producer heterogeneity and measurement errors in output that can affect labor demand estimates based on establishment survey data. The empirical results reveal that OLS estimates of both the own-price elasticity and the output elasticity of labor demand are biased downward as a result of unobserved heterogeneity. Differencing the data as a solution to this problem greatly exaggerates measurement error in the output coefficients. The use of capital stocks as instrumental variables to correct for measurement error in output significantly alters output elasticities in the expected direction but has no systematic effect on own-price elasticities. All of these patterns are found in estimates that pool establishment data across industries and in industry-specific regressions for the vast majority of industries. Estimates of the output elasticity of labor demand indicate that there are slight increasing returns for production workers and production hours, with a pooled data estimate of .92. The estimate for nonproduction workers in .98. The variation in the output elasticities across industries is fairly small. Estimates of the own-price elasticity vary more substantially with the year, type of differencing used, and industry. They average -.50 for production hours, -.41 for production workers, and -.44 for nonproduction workers. The price elasticities vary widely across manufacturing industries: the interquartile range for the industry estimates is approximately .40.
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Suggested Citation

  • Dunne, T. & Roberts, M., 1993. "The Long-Run Demand for Labor: Estimates from Census Establishment Data," Papers 10-93-8, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:pensta:10-93-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1983. "New Measures of Labor Cost: Implications for Demand Elasticities and Nominal Wage Growth," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Labor Cost, pages 287-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nathan Musick, 1998. "Heroic Plants: Persistently Rapid Job Creators in the Longitudinal Research Database - Their Distinguishing Characteristics and Contribution to Employment Growth," Industrial Organization 9811001, EconWPA.
    2. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F., 2001. "How comparable are labor demand elasticities across countries?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2658, The World Bank.
    3. Douglas W Dwyer, 1995. "Whittling Away At Productivity Dispersion," Working Papers 95-5, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Sang V. Nguyen & Michael Ollinger, 2009. "Mergers and acquisitions, employment, wages, and plant closures in the U.S. meat product industries," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 70-89.
    5. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F., 2005. "Labor demand and trade reform in Latin America," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 423-446, July.
    6. Mine Zeynep Senses, 2006. "The Effects of Outsourcing on the Elasticity of Labor Demand," Working Papers 06-07, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    7. Sang V Nguyen & Robert H Mcguckin & Arnold P Reznek, 1995. "The Impact Of Ownership Change On Employment, Wages, And Labor Productivity In U.S. Manufacturing 1977-87," Working Papers 95-8, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. McGuckin, Robert H. & Nguyen, Sang V., 2001. "The impact of ownership changes: a view from labor markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 739-762, April.

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    Keywords

    labour market;

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