Accounting for Mismatch Unemployment

(previously circulated under the title “Structural Unemployment”)

Benedikt Herz and Thijs van Rens



We investigate unemployment due to mismatch in the US over the past three decades. We propose an accounting framework that allows us to estimate the overall amount of mismatch unemployment as well as the contribution of the frictions that caused the mismatch. Mismatch is quantitatively important for unemployment and the cyclical behavior of mismatch unemployment is very similar to that of the overall unemployment rate. Geographic mismatch is driven primarily by wage frictions. Mismatch across industries is driven by wage frictions as well as barriers to job mobility. We find virtually no role for worker mobility frictions.

April 2016 [download pdf] – Earlier version available as IZA Discussion Paper 8884

Online appendices

Previous version: May 2015
First version: February 2011

Non-technical summaries

NEW Paying Skilled Workers More Would Create More Skilled Workers (980 words, 2 pages)
Harvard Business Review, 19 May 2016
(Wall Street Journal Must-Read Story, 20 May 2016)

The Skills Gap: Is it a Myth? (5500 words, 18 pages)
CAGE/SMF Global Perspectives Series: Paper 5, December 2015
Podcast (30 min + 30 min discussion) and slides


Media coverage:

Is there a ‘skills gap’?, Channel 4 News FactCheck, 3 July 2017

A press release in December 2015 was picked up by various outlets focusing on:

·         Recruitment, training and education

o    Workopolis, Canada

o    Training Journal, UK

o    Recruiting Times, UK

o    HR Reporter, Canada

o    Eddie Playfair, Principal of NewVIc, East London

·         Business

o    The Business Desk, West Midlands, UK

o    Real Business, UK

o    BusinessLine on Campus, India

·         Science and technology

o    Science Newsline, Tokyo and California

o    Technobahn, Japan

o, Canada/global

o    The Engineer, UK

o    Automotive Industry Today, US

·         Health

o    Health Medicine Network

·         Food industry

o    Food Manufacture, UK: first article & response of the industry

o    Food Processing, UK



Available on request.


Thijs van Rens  |  IDEAS/RePEc  |  Google Scholar  |  ResearchGate