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Hiring, Churn and the Business Cycle


  • Edward P. Lazear
  • James R. Spletzer


Churn, defined as replacing departing workers with new ones as workers move to more productive uses, is an important feature of labor dynamics. The majority of hiring and separation reflects churn rather than hiring for expansion or separation for contraction. Using the JOLTS data, we show that churn decreased significantly during the most recent recession with almost four-fifths of the decline in hiring reflecting decreases in churn. Reductions in churn have costs because they reflect a reduction in labor movement to higher valued uses. We estimate the cost of reduced churn to be $208 billion. On an annual basis, this amounts to about .4% of GDP for a period of 3 1/2 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear & James R. Spletzer, 2012. "Hiring, Churn and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 17910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17910
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Burgess, Simon & Lane, Julia & Stevens, David, 2000. "Job Flows, Worker Flows, and Churning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 473-502, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Galí & Thijs van Rens, 2008. "The vanishing procyclicality of labor productivity," Economics Working Papers 1230, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2010.
    2. Di Cintio, Marco & Grassi, Emanuele, 2015. "Labour flows and R&D: A quantile regression analysis," MPRA Paper 61714, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Decker, Ryan A. & Haltiwanger, John & Jarmin, Ron S. & Miranda, Javier, 2016. "Where has all the skewness gone? The decline in high-growth (young) firms in the U.S," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 4-23.
    4. Mukoyama, Toshihiko, 2014. "The cyclicality of job-to-job transitions and its implications for aggregate productivity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-17.
    5. Chad Syverson, 2014. "The importance of measuring dispersion in firm-level outcomes," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-53, May.
    6. Haddow, Abigail & Hare, Chris & Hooley, John & Shakir, Tamarah, 2013. "Macroeconomic uncertainty: what is it, how can we measure it and why does it matter?," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 53(2), pages 100-109.
    7. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2016. "The extent and cyclicality of career changes: Evidence for the U.K," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 18-41.
    8. Hie Ahn & James Hamilton, 2016. "Heterogeneity and Unemployment Dynamics," Working Papers id:11130, eSocialSciences.
    9. Miriam Rinawi & Matthias Krapf & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2014. "Labor market transitions after layoffs: the role of occupational skills," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0103, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    10. Piotr Cizkowicz & Andrzej Rzonca & Andrzej Toroj, 2015. "In search for appropriate lower bound.Zero lower bound vs. positive lower bound under discretion and commitment," NBP Working Papers 215, Narodowy Bank Polski, Economic Research Department.
    11. N. N., 2015. "WIFO-Monatsberichte, issue 11/2015," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(11), November.
    12. Martin Falk & Werner Hölzl & Harald Oberhofer, 2015. "The Importance of Firm-Level Data for Empirical Research and Economic Policy Consulting," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(11), pages 845-857, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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