Dr. Ana María Herrera Dr. Steven Lugauer Dr. Christopher R. Bollinger
Professor, Associate Department Chair Associate Professor Professor, Executive Director of Census KRDC

Job Market Paper

Economic Uncertainty’s Impact on Aggregate Employment Fluctuations: Estimating the Importance of the Population’s Age Distribution (Download)
Abstract: This paper provides evidence that the economic impact of changes in aggregate uncertainty depends on the population’s age distribution. In particular, the volatility in employment due to uncertainty is lower in US states that have a higher population of prime-aged workers. This main finding comes from a series of regressions using a quarterly panel of state data from 2000 to 2017. To address potential endogeneity, the current age distribution is instrumented by past birth rates, and state-level uncertainty is instrumented by national uncertainty. The regression estimates indicate that the reduction in employment volatility within states with a higher share of prime-age workers is quantitatively large. The findings are robust across a battery of approaches, including using alternative variable definitions and model specifications, analyzing a host of state-level controls, using local projections to examine the dynamics, and decomposing the labor fluctuations into job losses and participation volatility.

Work in Progress

Macroeconomic Uncertainty and Regional Wage Dispersion
with Ana María Herrera
Abstract: How does macroeconomic uncertainty affect regional wage dispersion? Recent work by Cacciatore and Ravenna (2020) suggests that in the presence of labor market frictions and occasional binding constraints, uncertainty shocks may deepen the recession. Using data from the U.S. Census of Manufacturers, the Current Population Survey, and the Annual Survey of Manufacturers spanning the period between 1972 and 2010 we investigate how regional wage dispersion and migration between states and counties respond to increased macroeconomic uncertainty. We find that in contrast with what happens in the face of oil price shocks (Kehring and Ziebarth, 2017), wage dispersion among skilled workers declines whereas that for unskilled workers is unaffected. This differential response is linked to differential migration rates between skilled and unskilled workers. In particular, migration among skilled workers initially declines but rebounds after a year. In contrast, migration among unskilled workers is rather muted.

Labor Market Volatility on Uncertainty and Demographics
Abstract: This paper utilizes the real business cycle (RBC) model to assess the influence of economic uncertainty on demographic-specific labor market volatility. This study builds on Jaimovich, Pruitt, and Siu (2013) who modified the RBC model to account for cyclical age-specific labor demand variations. Using March CPS data from 1964-2010 and considering a secondary technology shock, they found older labor hours to be less volatile after technology demand shocks compared to younger labor. Recent work by Villaverde and Quintana (2020) delves into the connection between uncertainty shocks and business cycles, identifying economic uncertainty shocks as stemming from secondary disruptions in technology innovation and labor supply preference. This paper draws insights from two studies and utilizes quarterly state data from 2000-2017. It integrates a supply preference shock into the age-differentiated RBC model. The underlying assumption is that labor input from the prime working age group is more stable than that of older workers when confronted with uncertainty supply shocks.