Declining Migration within the U.S.: The Role of the Labor Market

57 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2013

See all articles by Raven Molloy

Raven Molloy

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Christopher L. Smith

Government of the United States of America, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), Division of Research and Statistics, Macroeconomic Analysis Section

Abigail Wozniak

University of Notre Dame; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1, 2013

Abstract

Interstate migration has decreased steadily since the 1980s. We show that this trend is not related to demographic and socioeconomic factors, but that it appears to be connected to a concurrent secular decline in labor market transitions — i.e. the fraction of workers changing employer, industry or occupation. We explore a number of reasons for the dual trends in geographic and labor market transitions, including changes in the distribution of job opportunities across space, polarization in the labor market, concerns of dual-career households, and changes in the net benefit to changing employers. We find little empirical support for all but the last of these hypotheses. Specifically, using data from three cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys spanning the 1970s to the 2000s, we find that wage gains associated with employer transitions have fallen, while the returns to staying with the same employer have not changed. We favor the interpretation that, at least from the 1990s to the 2000s, the distribution of outside offers has shifted in a way that has made labor market transitions, and thus geographic transitions, less desirable to workers.

Suggested Citation

Molloy, Raven and Smith, Christopher L. and Wozniak, Abigail, Declining Migration within the U.S.: The Role of the Labor Market (November 1, 2013). US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP-13-53. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2373558 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2373558

Raven Molloy (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
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Christopher L. Smith

Government of the United States of America, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), Division of Research and Statistics, Macroeconomic Analysis Section ( email )

20th & C. St., N.W.
Mailstop 80
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Abigail Wozniak

University of Notre Dame ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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