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The Causes and Consequences of Sectoral Reallocation: 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. We investigate the sources of these permanent changes in employment growth and what the consequences were for the U.S. economy. In particular, we find that relative declines in demand rather than technological innovations were the key drivers of the elevated levels of job destruction and permanent layoffs in the affected industries. In addition, most workers that were displaced in downsizing industries relocated to other sectors. While this process of reallocation led to large increases in productivity (and a reduction in labor's share of aggregate income) in industries shedding workers, it also resulted in prolonged periods of unemployment for many displaced workers, along with sizable reductions in earnings that were consistent with substantial losses in their specific human capital. Putting these pieces together, we estimate the costs to those adversely affected by these events to have been 1/2 percent to 1 percent of aggregate income per year.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Figura & William Wascher, 2010. "The Causes and Consequences of Sectoral Reallocation: Evidence from the Early 21st Century," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 45(1), pages 49-68, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:buseco:v:45:y:2010:i:1:p:49-68
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    Cited by:

    1. Simona E. Cociuba & James C. MacGee, 2018. "Demographics and Sectoral Reallocations: A Search Theory with Immobile Workers," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20182, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
    2. Dorothee Flaig & Harald Grethe & Scott McDonald & Khalid Siddig, 2012. "Intersectoral factor movements: do adjustment costs matter for welfare?," EcoMod2012 4418, EcoMod.
    3. Dave Reifschneider & William Wascher & David Wilcox, 2015. "Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 63(1), pages 71-109, May.

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