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Who Suffers during Recessions?

  • Hilary Hoynes
  • Douglas L. Miller
  • Jessamyn Schaller

In this paper, we examine how business cycles affect labor market outcomes in the United States. We conduct a detailed analysis of how cycles affect outcomes differentially across persons of differing age, education, race, and gender, and we compare the cyclical sensitivity during the Great Recession to that in the early 1980s recession. We present raw tabulations and estimate a state panel data model that leverages variation across U.S. states in the timing and severity of business cycles. We find that the impacts of the Great Recession are not uniform across demographic groups and have been felt most strongly for men, black and Hispanic workers, youth, and low-education workers. These dramatic differences in the cyclicality across demographic groups are remarkably stable across three decades of time and throughout recessionary periods and expansionary periods. For the 2007 recession, these differences are largely explained by differences in exposure to cycles across industry-occupation employment.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 27-48

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:27-48
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.3.27
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  1. David Howell, Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits and Work Incentives: The U.S. Labor Market in the Great Recession," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2011-7, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
  2. Marianne Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2010. "The state of the safety net in the post-welfare reform era," Working Paper Series 2010-31, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John, 2012. "Labor market flows in the cross section and over time," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-18.
  4. Jesse Rothstein, 2011. "Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 17534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Henry S. Farber, 2011. "Job Loss in the Great Recession: Historical Perspective from the Displaced Workers Survey, 1984-2010," NBER Working Papers 17040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Solon, Gary & Barsky, Robert & Parker, Jonathan A, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important Is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25, February.
  7. Chinhui Juhn & Simon Potter, 2006. "Changes in Labor Force Participation in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 27-46, Summer.
  8. SIERMINSKA Eva & TAKHTAMANOVA Yelena, 2010. "Job Flows, demographics and the Great Recession," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2010-41, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  9. Farber, Henry, 2011. "Job Loss in the Great Recession: Historical Perspective from the Displaced Workers Survey, 1984-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 5696, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Ann Huff Stevens & Douglas L. Miller & Marianne E. Page & Mateusz Filipski, 2011. "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Understanding Pro-cyclical Mortality," NBER Working Papers 17657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
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