Job-Finding and Job-Losing: A Comprehensive Model of Heterogeneous Individual Labor-Market Dynamics


Robert E. Hall

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2019-05 | January 1, 2020

We study the paths over time that individuals follow in the labor market, as revealed in the monthly Current Population Survey. Some people face much higher flow values from work than in a non-market activity; if they lose a job, they find another soon. Others have close to equal flow values and tend to circle through jobs, search, and non-market activities. And yet others have flow values for non-market activities that are higher than those in the market, and do not work. We develop a model that identifies and quantifies heterogeneity in dynamic individual behavior. Our model provides a bridge between research on monthly transition rates in the tradition of Blanchard and Diamond (1990) and research on economic dynamics in the tradition of Mortensen and Pissarides (1994). Our estimates discern 5 distinct types. Most unemployment comes from just two of those types. Low employment types frequently circle among unemployment, short-term jobs, and being out of the labor market. Short-term jobs play a role in the job-finding process related to the role of unemployment. These are stop-gap jobs for high-employment types and a part of circling for low-employment types. Because of their high job-finding rates, and despite their low flow values of non-work relative to work, the volatility of the future lifetime value that high-employment types derive from work and non-work is lower than for low-employment types.

About the Author
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Marianna Kudlyak is a research advisor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Marianna Kudlyak