Date of Award

Winter 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Brigitte Waldorf

Committee Chair

Brigitte Waldorf

Committee Member 1

Raymond Florax

Committee Member 2

Janet Ayres

Committee Member 3

Michael Delgado


This study focuses on the question of whether job mobility relates to improved labor market outcomes among young college-educated individuals in the United States. I analyze unemployment duration, overeducation, and wage earnings among college graduates. The analysis centers around three specific questions: (1) Are there differences in labor market outcomes for those who migrate ("movers") and those who stay ("stayers")? (2) Did the recent economic crisis exacerbate the mover-stayer differences? (3) Do mover-stayer differences vary for individuals based on their demographic characteristics or where they live? I examine data on migrant status, location before and after a move, reasons for moving, wages, overeducation (by occupation), unemployment duration, and other related socioeconomic characteristics of college graduates aged 22 to 30 years. I use yearly data from the March Supplements of the Current Population Survey (CPS). The data are consistent over time, allowing for comparisons between the time periods before and after the 2008 economic crisis. ^ The results for the relationship between job mobility and labor market outcomes are mixed. Moving for job reasons correlates with shorter unemployment durations before and (seemingly more strongly) after the recession. For certain individuals, job mobility relates to lower overeducation propensities, but by and large overeducation and job migration do not seem to move together. Regarding wages, once again an overall correlation between moving and earnings is not found. Certain specific demographic groups experience positive (“boomerang” movers before the recession and immigrants after the recession) and negative (women before the recession) correlations between the two variables. Among groups of individuals for whom moving for job reasons counterintuitively correlates with worsened labor market performance, it is likely that some unmeasured confounding effect (perhaps amenity preference) is present. The research is of some interest to policy makers hoping to attract young highly educated individuals, but due to uncertainty regarding causality its applicability is limited.