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Not Working at Work: Loafing, Unemployment and Labor Productivity

Listed author(s):
  • Michael Burda
  • Katie R. Genadek
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

We use the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) 2003-12 to estimate time spent by workers in non-work while on the job. Non-work time is substantial and varies positively with the local unemployment rate. While average time spent by workers in non-work conditional on any positive amount rises with the unemployment rate, the fraction of workers reporting positive values varies pro-cyclically, declining in recessions. These results are consistent with a model in which heterogeneous workers are paid efficiency wages to refrain from loafing on the job. That model correctly predicts relationships of the incidence and conditional amounts of non-work with wage rates and measures of unemployment benefits in state data linked to the ATUS, and it is consistent with estimated occupational differences.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21923.

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Date of creation: Jan 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21923
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