Wage Offers and On-the-job Search (February 2021)
with Dan Bernhardt
We study the wage-setting problem of an employer with private information about demand for its product when workers can engage in costly on-the-job search. Employers understand that low wage offers may convey bad news that induces workers to search. The unique perfect sequential equilibrium wage strategy is characterized by: (i) pooling by intermediate-revenue employers on a common wage that just deters search; (ii) discontinuously lower revealing offers by low-revenue employers for whom the benefit of deterring search fails to warrant the required high pooling wage; and (iii) high revealing offers by high-revenue employers seeking to deter aggressive poachers.
Krueger and Mueller (2011) document that search effort declined with unemployment duration during the Great Recession. I show that variation in past effort explains this decline. Furthermore, job offers increase subsequent effort. These facts are inconsistent with standard models of search. I introduce a model of sequential search in which workers are uncertain about the offer arrival process and learn through search. Evolving beliefs influence search through two competing channels: the opportunity cost of leisure and the option value of unemployment. Estimation of the model indicates that learning provides a strong account of job search dynamics during the Great Recession.
Anticipated Productivity and the Labor Market (February 2021)
We identify the main shock driving the covariance of the labor market and output. The shock drives strong business cycle comovement among output, consumption, investment, hours, and stock prices but is essentially orthogonal to business cycle fluctuations in TFP. Yet, the shock is associated with future persistent TFP fluctuations, consistent with theories of technology news. A standard labor search model in which wages are determined by a cash flow sharing rule, rather than the net present value of match surplus, matches the observed responses to TFP news. The response of the wage implied by this rule is consistent with the empirical responses of a broad panel of wage series.
Review of Economic Dynamics, January 2013, Vol. 16(1), 120-134
Using a newly created microeconomic archive of US imports at the tariff line level for 1930–1933, we construct industry-level tariff wedges incorporating the input–output structure of US economy and the heterogeneous role of imports across sectors of the economy. We use these wedges to show that the average tariff rate of 46% in 1933 substantially understated the true impact of the Smoot–Hawley (SH) tariff structure, which we estimate to be equivalent to a uniform tariff rate of 70%. We use these wedges to calculate the impact of the Smoot–Hawley tariffs on total factor productivity and welfare. In our benchmark parameterization, we find that tariff protection reduced TFP by 1.2% relative to free trade prior to the Smoot–Hawley legislation. TFP fell by an additional 0.5% between 1930 and 1933 due to Smoot–Hawley. We also conduct counterfactual policy exercises and examine the sensitivity of our results to changes in the elasticity of substitution and the import share. A doubling of the substitution elasticities yields a TFP decline of almost 5% relative to free trade, with an additional reduction due to SH of 0.4%.