Cyclical upgrading of labor and employment differences across skill groups
SourceB.E.Journal of Macroeconomics
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This paper examines the cyclical properties of employment rates in a search and matching model that features heterogeneous workers and jobs. I capture heterogeneity by postulating two skill levels: high and low. All low-skill workers can produce in only low-skill jobs, whereas some high-skill workers can produce in both high-and low-skill jobs. My analysis highlights the importance of a vertical type of transitory skill mismatch, in which workers accept jobs below their skill level to escape unemployment and upgrade by on-the-job search, in explaining why employment is typically lower and more procyclical at lower skill levels. The model is also consistent with other important features of the labor market, such as a procyclical rate of job-to-job transitions and evidence on cyclical changes in the composition of job quality. In recessions outflows from unemployment shift the distribution of high-skill workers toward low-skill jobs, while expansions allow them to upgrade to high-skill jobs through job-to-job transitions. © 2011 The Berkeley Electronic Press. All rights reserved.