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Free Content The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources and Micro–Macro Links

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Abstract:

New data sources and products developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census highlight the fluid character of U.S. labor markets. Private sector job creation and destruction rates average nearly 8 percent of employment per quarter. Worker flows in the form of hires and separations are more than twice as large. The data also underscores the lumpy nature of micro-level employment adjustments. More than two-thirds of job destruction occurs at establishments that shrink by more than 10 percent within the quarter, and more than one-fifth occurs at those that shut down. Our study also uncovers highly nonlinear relationships of worker flows to employment growth and job flows at the micro level. These micro relations interact with movements over time in the cross-sectional density of establishment growth rates to produce recurring cyclical patterns in aggregate labor market flows. Cyclical movements in the layoffs–separations ratio, for example, and the propensity of separated workers to become unemployed reflect distinct micro relations for quits and layoffs. A dominant role for the job-finding rate in accounting for unemployment movements in mild downturns and a bigger role for the job-loss rate in severe downturns reflect distinct micro relations for hires and layoffs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/089533006780387607

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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