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Labor Force, Productivity, and Mobility

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (PDT)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor F
Hosted By: Labor and Employment Relations Association
  • Chair: Abigail Wozniak, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Disappearing Routine Occupations and Declining Prime-Age Labor Force Participation

Didem Tuzemen
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City


Using several data sources I study the link between disappearing routine occupations and the decline in the labor force participation rate of prime-age individuals since the 1990s. First, I exploit state-level variation and show that states with lower shares of prime-age individuals employed in routine occupations also have lower prime-age participation rates. Second, I narrow the geographic unit to local labor markets and highlight that changes in routine employment and changes in the labor market outcomes of prime-age individuals show great variation across local labor markets (commuting zones) in the United States. My estimation results indicate that commuting zones with larger declines in prime-age routine employment experienced larger declines in the prime-age labor force participation rates between 1990 and 2016. Moreover, disappearing routine employment has mainly reduced the labor force participation rates of prime-age men and women without a bachelor’s degree. Lastly, I show that the de- clines in routine employment were not limited to blue-collar jobs in the manufacturing industries, but were also observed in the non-manufacturing industries.

How Skill Demands Affect Time-To-Hire: Evidence from Applicant Tracking Data

Hye Jin Rho
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Andrew Weaver
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign


Matching skilled workers with employers in a timely fashion is critical for both economic growth and worker advancement. Despite the importance of this process, we have very little sense of how particular skill demands affect time-to-hire at the establishment level. Existing research tends to show that more complex jobs have longer recruitment times (Faberman and Menzio 2018; Ketteman, Mueller, and Zweimuller 2018). However, most of this research has focused on the relationship between the starting wage and time-to-hire, leaving open questions about the impact of particular skill requirements. In this research, we use a unique applicant-tracking dataset that includes information on detailed skill demands and hiring outcomes for both temporary and permanent workers. The results reveal patterns that inform our understanding of the operation of the labor market. In a number of specifications, social and interpersonal skills are associated with longer hiring delays than cognitive/technical skills, although certain quantitative and analytical skills have significantly longer times-to-hire. Within the detailed administrative/clerical occupations, analytical and reading/writing requirements are associated with longer recruitment times than quantitative skill requirements. Overall, this study sheds light on the interaction between skills and hiring while providing key information to policymakers about relative labor market frictions.

The Structural Decline in Job Turnover since 2000: Disequilibrium or New Normal?

Shulamit Kahn
Boston University
Alicia Modestino
Northeastern University
Yeseul Hyun
Boston University


Numerous authors have noted that US job mobility, as measured by employee turnover rates, fell considerably starting from 2000 through the onset of the Great Recession (e.g. Molloy et.al. Brookings 2019, Davis and Haltiwanger NBER 2014, Hyatt and Spletzer LabourEcon 2017). Yet trends in job separations and hires from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey indicate that turnover has returned to pre-recession levels. We confirm this empirical fact using the March Current Population Survey to measure job turnover across employers, and find that the decline in turnover appears to have been a one-time structural decrease between 2000 and 2005, when the average annual incidence of job turnover dropped more than 4 percentage points.
To explain this sudden fall in job turnover, we explore several hypotheses. First, the changing composition of workers across demographic characteristics such as age distribution, gender, marital and 2-earner status, education, immigrant-status and industry may be responsible. For example, since turnover is lower among older workers, the aging of our population would reduce turnover. However, we demonstrate that changes in the composition of workers explains only about half of the drop during this four-year period.
Second, we hypothesize that the rate of decrease in job turnover during this period varied by the types of skills used on the job. For example, sudden shifts in the demand for some skills could have reduced the availability of alternative job opportunities. Using Autor and Dorn (AER 2013) to classify jobs skills, we find that job turnover fell the most among workers in jobs requiring routine cognitive skills. This finding is consistent with the literature on job market polarizations and is confirmed by the marked turnover declines we identify among younger cohorts of workers without bachelor's degrees.
Dale Belman
Michigan State University
Evan Starr
University of Maryland
Michael Carr
University of Massachusetts-Boston
JEL Classifications
  • J2 - Demand and Supply of Labor
  • J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers