I present four facts about occupational mobility: (1) most movements occur within firms, (2) downward moves are frequent, (3) wage growth reflects the direction and distance of mobility, and (4) relative occupational wages before mobility predict the direction of mobility, except for non-displaced movers between firms. I show these facts are consistent with models of vertical sorting. I show that non-displaced movements between firms obscure the positive selection of upward occupational movers, likely reflecting moves up a firm-wage job ladder. Displaced workers show similar pre-displacement selection to internal movers, with pre-displacement occupational wage rank predicting the direction of occupational mobility.
Abstract: Minimum wage increases often result in spillovers above the strict minimum wage cutoff, however the mechanism behind these spillovers is not well understood. Using establishment-level panel data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, I estimate the effect of minimum wage increases implemented by 10 states in 2014 and 2015 on establishment wage and occupational structures. I show that minimum wage increases lead to wage spillovers within establishments. I find no evidence that minimum wage increases induce establishments to reorganize their occupational structure across major occupational groups, however I find it does lead to a 1% increase in reallocation within 2 digit occupations. I investigate opening and closing establishments, and find that minimum wage increases induce closures by establishments with a larger share of employment in clerical, production, and service occupations and a smaller share in professional and computer-related occupations. However, opening and closing establishments do not exhibit any selection on wage structure or establishment size. Finally, I find that minimum wage increases propagate up the management hierarchy, leading to increased wages for supervisors. Nonetheless, I find overall wage inequality decreases within establishments after minimum wage increases.
Report prepared for the Department of Labor Chief Evaluation Office Summer Data Challenge on Equity and Underserved Communities
Blog from DOL: https://blog.dol.gov/2022/02/10/were-using-data-to-better-understand-our-work-and-create-more-equitable-programs-and-policies
Abstract: Using data from before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, we show that the expansion of benefits under the CARES Act only modestly increased self-reported UI recipiency among UI eligible workers, from 27% in 2018 to 36% in 2020/2021. We find that the same demographic groups that historically are less likely to report receiving benefits (less educated, younger, and racial and ethnic minorities) continued to be less likely to receive benefits during the pandemic. In addition we find non-heterosexual workers are also substantially less likely to report receiving benefits. The overarching reason for these disparities is differences in beliefs about eligibility, resulting in likely-eligible workers not applying for benefits. We show that union members and individuals who live in states with historically higher recipiency rates are less likely to be misinformed about eligibility, suggesting a role for policy and informational interventions to improve recipiency rates.
Abstract: We investigate the impact of computerization of white-collar jobs on wages and employment. Using online job postings from 2007 and 2010–2016 for office and administrative support (OAS) jobs, we show that when firms adopt new software at the job-title level they increase the skills required of job applicants. Furthermore, firms change the task content of such jobs, broadening them to include tasks associated with higher-skill office functions. We aggregate these patterns to the local labor-market level, instrumenting for local technology adoption with national measures. We find that a 1 standard deviation increase in OAS technology usage reduces employment in OAS occupations by about 1 percentage point and increases wages for college graduates in OAS jobs by over 3 percent. We find negative wage spillovers, with wages falling for both workers with and without a college degree. These results are consistent with technological adoption inducing a realignment in task assignment across occupations, leading office support occupations to become higher skill. We argue relative wage gains for OAS workers indicates that factor-augmenting features of OAS technological change dominate task-substituting features. In addition, while we find that total employment increases, these gains primarily accrue to college-educated women.
Upjohn Institute working paper: 19-310, NBER Working Paper 29866
U of I News Bureau: “Paper: Economy benefits when secretarial jobs require more computer skills” (December 2019)
Abstract: We investigate employer recruiting behavior, using detailed firm-level data from a national survey of employers hiring recent college graduates. We show employers adjust recruiting effort, hiring standards, and compensation with the business cycle, beliefs about tightness, and their own hiring plans. We then show that firms expending greater recruiting effort hire more individuals per vacancy. The results suggest that when firms want to increase hires they adjust vacancies and recruiting intensity per vacancy. If true more broadly in the labor market, it may help explain the breakdown in the standard matching function during the Great Recession. For the firms in our sample, the difference in firm vacancy yields between 2011 and 2015 would have more than doubled if recruiting effort had been constant. Finally, we estimate that our measure of recruiting effort can explain 61% of the elasticity of the vacancy yield with respect to hires in our data.
Abstract: We report on the state of the labor market midway through the COVID recession, focusing particularly on measuring market tightness. As we show using a simple model, tightness is crucial for understanding the relative importance of labor supply or demand side factors in job creation. In tight markets, worker search eﬀort has a relatively larger impact on job creation, while employer proﬁtability looms larger in slack markets. We measure tightness combining job seeker information from the CPS and vacancy postings from Burning Glass Technologies. To parse the former, we develop a taxonomy of the non-employed that identiﬁes job seekers and excludes the large number of those on temporary layoﬀ who are waiting to be recalled. With this taxonomy, we ﬁnd that eﬀective tightness has declined about 50% since the onset of the epidemic to levels last seen in 2016, when labor markets generally appeared to be tight. Disaggregating market tightness, we ﬁnd mismatch has surprisingly declined in the COVID recession. Further, while markets still appear to be tight relative to other recessionary periods, this could change quickly if the large group of those who lost their jobs but are not currently searching for a range of COVID-related reasons reenter the search market.
Using data from the Current Population Surveys, we investigate the aggregate and distributional consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated public policy response on labor earnings and unemployment benefits in the United States up until February 2021. We find that year-on-year changes in labor earnings for employed individuals were not atypical during the pandemic months, regardless of their initial position in the earnings distribution. The incidence of job loss, however, was, and continues to be, substantially higher among low earners, leading to a dramatic increase in labor income inequality among the set of individuals who were employed prior to the onset of the pandemic. By providing very high replacement rates for individuals displaced from low-paying jobs, the initial public policy response was successful in reversing the regressive nature of the pandemic’s impacts. We estimate, however, that recipiency rates for displaced low earners were relatively low. Moreover, from September onwards, when policy changes led to a decline in benefit levels, earnings changes became much more regressive, even after factoring in benefits.
Previous version: “Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the CARES Act on Earnings and Inequality” (IZA DP No. 13643)