The Establishment-Level Behavior of Vacancies and Hiring

Steven J. Davis, R. Jason Faberman, John C. Haltiwanger

NBER Working Paper No. 16265
Issued in August 2010, Revised in August 2012
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies

This paper is the first to study vacancies, hires, and vacancy yields at the establishment level in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, a large sample of U.S. employers. To interpret the data, we develop a simple model that identifies the flow of new vacancies and the job-filling rate for vacant positions. The fill rate moves counter to aggregate employment but rises steeply with employer growth rates in the cross section. It falls with employer size, rises with worker turnover rates, and varies by a factor of four across major industry groups. We also develop evidence that the employer-level hiring technology exhibits mild increasing returns in vacancies, and that employers rely heavily on other instruments, in addition to vacancies, as they vary hires. Building from our evidence and a generalized matching function, we construct a new index of recruiting intensity (per vacancy). Recruiting intensity partly explains the recent breakdown in the standard matching function, delivers a better-fitting empirical Beveridge Curve, and accounts for a large share of fluctuations in aggregate hires. Our evidence and analysis provide useful inputs for assessing, developing and calibrating theoretical models of search, matching and hiring in the labor market.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16265

Published: Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John C. Haltiwanger, 2013. "The Establishment-Level Behavior of Vacancies and Hiring," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 581-622. citation courtesy of

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