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The causes and consequences of economic restructuring: evidence from the early 21st century

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  • Andrew Figura
  • William Wascher

Abstract

A number of industries underwent large and permanent reductions in employment growth at the beginning of this decade, a process we label as restructuring. We describe how restructuring occurred and what its consequences were for the economy. In particular, we find that restructuring stemmed largely from relative demand shocks (though technology shocks were important in some industries) and that elevated levels of permanent job destruction and permanent layoffs were distinguishing features of industries subject to restructuring. In addition, most workers displaced in restructuring industries relocated to other sectors. While this process of reallocation led to large increases in productivity (and a reduction in labor’s share) in industries shedding workers, it also resulted in prolonged periods of unemployment for displaced workers. Moreover, relocating workers suffered sizable reductions in earnings, consistent with substantial losses in their specific human capital. Putting these pieces together, we estimate the cost of restructuring to have been between ½ and 1 percent of aggregate income per year.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2008-41.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2008-41

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Keywords: Structural unemployment ; Unemployment;

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  1. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2007. "Explaining a Productive Decade," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 81-152.
  2. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2004. "Measuring capital and technology: an expanded framework," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-65, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 2008. "Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1943-77, December.
  4. Eisfeldt, Andrea L. & Rampini, Adriano A., 2006. "Capital reallocation and liquidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 369-399, April.
  5. Phelan, Christopher & Trejos, Alberto, 2000. "The aggregate effects of sectoral reallocations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 249-268, April.
  6. Erica L. Groshen & Simon Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
  7. Martin Neil Baily & Robert Z. Lawrence, 2004. "What Happened to the Great U.S. Job Machine? The Role of Trade and Electronic Offshoring," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 211-284.
  8. Catherine L. Mann, 2003. "Globalization of IT Services and White Collar Jobs: The Next Wave of Productivity Growth," Policy Briefs PB03-11, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  9. Daniel Aaronson & Ellen Rissman & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2004. "Can sectoral reallocation explain the jobless recovery?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 36-39.
  10. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transitions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 493-508.
  11. Kathryn Koenders & Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Organizational dynamics over the business cycle: a view on jobless recoveries," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 555-580.
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