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The Impact of Unemployment Insurance on Job Search: Evidence from Google Search Data

May 09, 2016

Professor Scott R. Baker (Northwestern University) and Dr. Andrey Fradkin (MIT IDE)


Job search is a key choice variable in theories of labor markets but has proven difficult to measure directly. We develop and validate the Google Job Search Index (GJSI), a measure of job search based on Google search data. The GJSI is publicly available, high-frequency, and location-specific. We use the GJSI to study the effects of the unemployment insurance (UI) expansions between 2008 and 2011. We show that states with higher potential durations of UI experience decreased search. A calibration exercise suggests that the decrease in job search due to UI expansions had minor effects on unemployment rates.