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On-the-Job Search and Business Cycles

  • Shouyong Shi

    (University of Toronto)

  • Guido Menzio

    (University of Pennsylvania)

In this paper, we develop a tractable model of the labor market where workers search for jobs both while unemployed and while on the job. Search is directed in the sense that each worker chooses to search for the offer that provides the optimal tradeoff between the probability of obtaining the offer and the increase in the value relative to the worker's current employment. There are both aggregate and match-specific shocks, on which the wage path in an offer can be contingent. We characterize the equilibrium analytically and show that the equilibrium is unique and socially efficient. On the quantitative side, we calibrate the model to the US data to measure the effect of aggregate productivity fluctuations on the labor market. We find that productivity fluctuations account for approximately 64% of the cyclical volatility in US unemployment. Moreover, productivity fluctuations generate the same matrix of correlations between unemployment and other labor market variables as in the US. In particular, the Beveridge curve is negatively sloped over business cycles, and the magnitude of the slope is the same as in the data. In light of these findings, we conclude that productivity shocks are one of the main forces driving labor market fluctuations over business cycles. Furthermore, we find that recessions have a cleansing effect on the economy.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2008 Meeting Papers with number 252.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:252
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  1. Gomes, Joao & Greenwood, Jeremy & Rebelo, Sergio, 2001. "Equilibrium unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 109-152, August.
  2. Dale T. Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 11692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Margaret Stevens, 2004. "Wage-Tenure Contracts in a Frictional Labour Market: Firms' Strategies for Recruitment and Retention," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 535-551, 04.
  4. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  6. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1992. "Search Unemployment with on-the-job Search," CEP Discussion Papers dp0074, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  8. Gadi Barlevy, 2002. "The Sullying Effect of Recessions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 65-96.
  9. Alain Delacroix & Shouyong Shi, 2006. "Directed Search On The Job And The Wage Ladder," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 651-699, 05.
  10. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  11. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
  12. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1985. "Short-run Equilibrium Dynamics of Unemployment Vacancies, and Real Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 676-90, September.
  13. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
  14. 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.
  15. Ken Burdett & Melvyn Coles, 2003. "Equilibrium Wage-Tenure Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1377-1404, 09.
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