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Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building From Microeconomic Evidence

  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Eduardo M.R.A. Engel
  • John Haltiwanger

This paper studies quarterly employment flows of approximately 10,000 large U.S. manufacturing establishments during 1972:1-1980:4.After estimating the extent of short run microeconomic substitution between employment and hours per worker (hours-week), we construct measures of the path of the deviation between actual and desired employment based on the observed behavior of establishments' hours-week. These deviations are then used as the state variables upon which units decide their employment adjustments (microeconomic policy). Using this framework we find that: (i) Microeconomic employment adjustment policies are non-linear, with firms adjusting to large deviations proportionally more than to small ones; (ii) Employment adjustments are often either large or nil, suggesting the presence of non-convexities in the adjustment cost technologies; (iii) 60 to 90 % of aggregate employment fluctuations is due to changes in the cross sectional distribution of employment deviations, while the rest is due to microeconomic policy changes; (iv) Most of the net aggregate employment fluctuations from changes in the cross sectional distribution are accounted for by aggregate shocks, despite significant fluctuations in the distribution of idiosyncratic shocks and the marked countercyclical nature of their second moment(i.e. reallocation shocks) (v) Similarly, most of the net aggregate employment fluctuations due to microeconomic policy changes are accounted for by aggregate shocks; (vi) Aggregate shocks are also the dominant source of job destruction, but account for less than half of fluctuations in job creation; (vii) A simple parametric version of the aggregate model suggested by the microeconomic nonlinearities shown above has a mean square error 50% lower than its linear counterpart's.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5042.

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Date of creation: Feb 1995
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 87, no. 1 (March 1997): 115-137
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5042
Note: EFG LS
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  1. Thomas J. Sargent, 1978. "Estimation of dynamic labor demand schedules under rational expectations," Staff Report 27, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Eberly, Janice C, 1994. "Adjustment of Consumers' Durables Stocks: Evidence from Automobile Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 403-36, June.
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1992. "Microeconomic Adjustment Hazards and Aggregate Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 4090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Katharine G. Abraham & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," NBER Working Papers 1410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-68, December.
  6. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
  7. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-55, December.
  8. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Robert E. Hall, 1991. "Labor Demand, Labor Supply, and Employment Volatility," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 17-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dale Mortensen & Christopher Pissarides, 1992. "The Cyclical Behavior of Job Creation and Job Destruction," Discussion Papers 982, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Davis, Steven J & Haltiwanger, John C, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-63, August.
  12. Caballero, R.J. & Engel, E.M.R.A., 1990. "Dynamic (S,S) Economies," Discussion Papers 1990_44, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  13. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-89, September.
  14. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1992. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," NBER Working Papers 4105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Mortensen, Dale T., 1994. "The cyclical behavior of job and worker flows," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 1121-1142, November.
  16. Ricardo J. Caballero, 1991. "A Fallacy of Composition," NBER Working Papers 3735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1996. "On the Timing and Efficiency of Creative Destruction," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 805-52, August.
  18. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A, 1992. "Beyond the Partial-Adjustment Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 360-64, May.
  19. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1984. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 735, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  20. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, June.
  21. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  22. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  23. Alan S. Blinder, 1981. "Retail Inventory Behavior and Business Fluctuations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 443-520.
  24. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
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