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What Explains the 2007–2009 Drop in Employment?

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  • Atif Mian
  • Amir Sufi

Abstract

We show that deterioration in household balance sheets, or the housing net worth channel, played a significant role in the sharp decline in U.S. employment between 2007 and 2009. Counties with a larger decline in housing net worth experience a larger decline in non‐tradable employment. This result is not driven by industry‐specific supply‐side shocks, exposure to the construction sector, policy‐induced business uncertainty, or contemporaneous credit supply tightening. We find little evidence of labor market adjustment in response to the housing net worth shock. There is no significant expansion of the tradable sector in counties with the largest decline in housing net worth. Further, there is little evidence of wage adjustment within or emigration out of the hardest hit counties.

Suggested Citation

  • Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2014. "What Explains the 2007–2009 Drop in Employment?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2197-2223, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:82:y:2014:i::p:2197-2223
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