Job Creation and Job Destruction

The OECD also noted an important benefit of employment protection legislation: it enhances the willingness of young workers to invest in skills that are productive at their firms. Without a strong attachment to the firm, workers have little incentive to build up skills that are not transferable to other jobs. Job Creation and Job Destruction In place of the supply-and-demand diagram, we can think about the decisions that workers and firms make when they are trying to form or break an employment relationship. Individual workers search for available jobs, which are called vacancies. On the other side, vacancies are searching for workers. When a vacancy and a worker are successfully matched, a job is created. When we say that a vacancy is searching for a worker, we, of course, really mean that a firm with a vacancy is seeking to hire a worker. You can think of a firm as being a collection of jobs and vacancies. Whereas the standard supply-and-demand picture downplays differences among workers and jobs, this “search-and-matching” approach places these differences at the center of the analysis. Workers differ in terms of their abilities and preferences. Jobs differ in terms of their characteristics and requirements. For an economy to function well, we need to somehow do a good job of matching vacancies with workers. When a successful match occurs, we call this “job creation.” Search theory is a framework for understanding this matching process. Let us think about how this process looks, first from the perspective of the worker and then from the perspective of the firm. Workers care about the various characteristics of their jobs. These characteristics might include how much the job pays, whether it is in a good location, whether it offers good opportunities for advancement, whether it is interesting, whether it is dangerous, and other attributes. Vacancies are likewise “looking” for certain characteristics of workers, such as how much they cost, what skills they possess, whether they have relevant experience, whether they are hardworking and motivated, whether they are trustworthy, and so on. The firm cares about these characteristics because it cares about profitability: its goal is to make as much profit as possible. Over time, the quality of the match between a worker and a vacancy may change. A job may become less profitable to the firm and/or less attractive to the worker. To put it another way, the amount of value created by the job may change. The worker may come to dislike particular aspects of the job or may wish to change location for family reasons. The worker may feel that he or she would be better matched with some other firm, perhaps because of changes in his or her skills and experience. From the firm’s side, demand for the firm’s product may decrease, or the firm might shift to a new production technique that requires different skills. If the value created by a job decreases too much, then the firm or the worker may choose to end the relationship, either by the worker’s choice (quitting the job) or the firm’s (firing the worker). This is “job destruction.” Jobs are created and destroyed all the time in the economy. The flows of workers among jobs and employment states are a key characteristic of the labor market.

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