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Does Employer Learning Vary by Occupation?

University of Colorado Denver and DIW Berlin

Models of employer learning have two implications: first, the distribution of wages becomes more dispersed as a cohort of workers gains experience; second, the coefficient on an ability correlate that employers initially do not observe grows with experience. If learning by employers varies across occupations, both of these indicators of learning should covary positively across groups defined by a worker’s initial occupational assignment. This paper tests these implications using data from the NLSY79 and CPS. I find that there is significant heterogeneity in the employer learning process across occupations and that occupational assignment affects the learning process independently of education.