CAREER: A Foundation Model for Labor Sequence Data

Keyon Vafa · Emil Palikot · Tianyu Du · Ayush Kanodia · Susan Athey · David Blei


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Labor economists regularly analyze employment data by fitting predictive models to small, carefully constructed longitudinal survey datasets. Although machine learning methods offer promise for such problems, these survey datasets are too small to take advantage of them. In recent years large datasets of online resumes have also become available, providing data about the career trajectories of millions of individuals. However, standard econometric models cannot take advantage of their scale or incorporate them into the analysis of survey data. To this end we develop CAREER, a foundation model for job sequences. CAREER is first fit to large, passively-collected resume data and then fine-tuned to smaller, better-curated datasets for economic inferences. We fit CAREER to a dataset of 24 million job sequences from resumes, and adjust it on small longitudinal survey datasets. We find that CAREER forms accurate predictions of job sequences, outperforming econometric baselines on three widely-used economics datasets. We further find that CAREER can be used to form good predictions of other downstream variables. For example, incorporating CAREER into a wage model provides better predictions than the econometric models currently in use.