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The changing relationship between job loss announcements and stock prices: 1970-1999


  • Farber, Henry S.
  • Hallock, Kevin F.


We study the reaction of stock prices to announcements of reductions in force (RIFs) using a sample of 4273 such announcements in 1160 large firms during the 1970-99 period collected from the Wall Street Journal. We note that the total number of actual announcements for the firms in our sample follows the business cycle quite closely. We then examine changes over time in standard summary statistics (means, medians, fraction positive) of the distribution of stock market reactions, measured by the cumulative excess returns (CER) of firms' stock prices over a 3-day event window centered on the announcement date, as well as changes over time in kernel density estimates of this distribution. We find clear evidence that the distribution of stock market reactions shifted to the right (became less negative) over time. One possible explanation for this change is that, over the last three decades, RIFs designed to improve efficiency have become more common relative to RIFs designed to cope with reductions in product demand. We estimate multivariate regression models of the CER controlling for the stated reason for the announced layoff, industry, and other characteristics of the announced layoff. We find that almost none of the decline in the negative average stock price reaction between the 1970s and 1990s can be explained by these factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Farber, Henry S. & Hallock, Kevin F., 2009. "The changing relationship between job loss announcements and stock prices: 1970-1999," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-11, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:16:y:2009:i:1:p:1-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dial, Jay & Murphy, Kevin J., 1995. "Incentives, downsizing, and value creation at General Dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 261-314, March.
    2. Blackwell, David W. & Marr, M. Wayne & Spivey, Michael F., 1990. "Plant-closing decisions and the market value of the firm," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 277-288, August.
    3. Fama, Eugene F, et al, 1969. "The Adjustment of Stock Prices to New Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, February.
    4. Brown, Stephen J. & Warner, Jerold B., 1985. "Using daily stock returns : The case of event studies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 3-31, March.
    5. John M. Abowd & George T. Milkovich & John M. Hannon, 1990. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Decisions on Shareholder Value," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 203-2-236-, April.
    6. repec:bla:joares:v:25:y:1987:i:2:p:245-274 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hallock, Kevin F, 1998. "Layoffs, Top Executive Pay, and Firm Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 711-723, September.
    8. A. Craig MacKinlay, 1997. "Event Studies in Economics and Finance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 13-39, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alison E. Weingarden, 2017. "The Timing of Mass Layoff Episodes : Evidence from U.S. Microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-088, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "New ways to slice the pie: Span of control and wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 77072, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Feb 2017.
    3. Alison E. Weingarden, 2017. "Employment Dynamics in a Signaling Model with Workers' Incentives," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-040, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Reich, Michael, 2012. "Unemployment after the Great Recession: Why so High? What Can We Do?/El desempleo después de la Gran Recesión: ¿Por qué tan alto? ¿Qué podemos hacer?," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 30, pages 11-28, Abril.
    5. Brian Bell & Stephen Machin, 2018. "Minimum Wages and Firm Value," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 159-195.
    6. Aaron B. Flaaen & Matthew D. Shapiro & Isaac Sorkin, 2017. "Reconsidering the Consequences of Worker Displacements: Firm versus Worker Perspective," NBER Working Papers 24077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "A middle-manager model of wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 64303, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. repec:spr:rvmgts:v:12:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11846-016-0219-7 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Layoffs Job loss Event studies;


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