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Finance and Economics Discussion Series
Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page Labor Reallocation over the Business Cycle: New Evidence from Internal Migration
Raven E. Saks and Abigail Wozniak

Abstract: This paper establishes the cyclical properties of a novel measure of worker reallocation: long-distance migration rates within the U.S. This internal migration offers a bird's eye view of worker reallocation in the economy, as long-distance migrants often change jobs or employment status. We examine gross migration patterns during the entire postwar era using historical reports of the Current Population Survey, and supplement this analysis with statistics compiled by the Internal Revenue Service on inter-state and inter-metropolitan population flows since 1975. We find that internal migration within the U.S. is strongly procyclical, even after accounting for variation in relative local economic conditions. This procyclicality is common across most major demographic and labor force groups, although it is strongest for younger workers. Our findings suggest that cyclical fluctuations in internal migration are driven by economy-wide changes in the net cost to worker reallocation with a major role for the job finding rate of young workers.

Keywords: Migration, Business Cycles

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Last update: August 3, 2007