The following charts were constructed by Constanza Liborio (my faithful RA). To ease cross-city comparisons, all charts are of exactly the same dimension. The help wanted index (HWI) is from the Conference Board Help Wanted Index (1987=100). Constanza divided the city-level HWI by city-level employment, and then normalized 1987=1. The city-level unemployment rate data is from the BLS.
We have data for most cities ranging from 1984-2009 (some include 2010). The 1980s are colored purple; the 1990s are colored red; and the 2000s are colored green. (You should be able to enlarge the diagrams by clicking on them).
One thing that struck me was how steeply sloped the "long run" Beveridge curve appears to be across many cities. Or, if you're one who likes to imagine relatively flat BCs shifting over time (a la here: A Classroom Lesson: The Phillips Curve), then this evidence appears to suggest that something "structural" has been in play since the mid 1980s. Take a look, for example, at Cleveland and Miami. The unemployment rates in those cities are now about the same as they were in the mid 1980s and mid 1990s; even though recruiting intensity has dropped to the floor.
And take a look at poor Detroit. Here, one is tempted to say that low recruiting intensity is responsible for high unemployment (the classic BC statement). But as Cleveland and other cities demonstrate, unemployment can be high for reasons that appear independent of recruiting intensity.
Please feel free to share your impressions of this data.