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Measuring Mismatch in the US Labor Market

  • Joseph Song

    (Columbia University)

  • Giorgio Topa

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Gianluca Violante

    (NYU)

  • Aysegul Sahin

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

This paper measures mismatch between job-seekers and vacancies in the U.S. labor market. Mismatch is defined as the distance between the observed allocation of unemployed workers across sectors and the optimal allocation that solves a planner’s problem. The planner’s allocation rule requires (productive and matching) efficiency-weighted vacancy-unemployment ratios to be equated across sectors. More severe mismatch between vacant jobs and idle workers translates into higher unemployment by reducing the aggregate job-finding rate. In our empirical analysis, we use two sources of cross-sectional data on vacancies, JOLTS and HWOL, together with unemployment data from the CPS. We find that mismatch across industries and occupations accounts for 0.6 to 1.7 percentage points of the recent rise (by about five percentage points) in the U.S. unemployment rate, whereas geographical mismatch plays no role. The share of the rise in unemployment explained by mismatch is increasing in the education level.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 973.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:973
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  1. Molloy, Raven & Smith, Christopher L. & Wozniak, Abigail, 2011. "Internal Migration in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 5903, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, 2012. "Negative equity does not reduce homeowners’ mobility," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Feb, pages 1-17.
  3. Greg Kaplan & Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2010. "Interstate Migration Has Fallen Less Than You Think: Consequences of Hot Deck Imputation in the Current Population Survey," NBER Working Papers 16536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Abraham, Katharine G & Katz, Lawrence F, 1986. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 507-22, June.
  5. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
  6. Regis Barnichon & Andrew Figura, 2011. "What drives matching efficiency? a tale of composition and dispersion," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," NBER Working Papers 13290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John C. Haltiwanger, 2009. "The establishment-level behavior of vacancies and hiring," Working Papers 09-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  10. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
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