NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Layoffs, Lemons and Temps

Christopher L. House, Jing Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 17962
Issued in March 2012
NBER Program(s):   EFG   LS

We develop a dynamic equilibrium model of labor demand with adverse selection. Firms learn the quality of newly hired workers after a period of employment. Adverse selection makes it costly to hire new workers and to release productive workers. As a result, firms hoard labor and under-react to labor demand shocks. The adverse selection problem also creates a market for temporary workers. In equilibrium, firms hire a buffer stock of permanent workers and respond to changing business conditions by varying their temp workers. A hiring subsidy or tax can improve welfare by discouraging firms from hoarding too many productive workers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17962

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