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Abandoning the Sinking Ship: The Composition of Worker Flows Prior to Displacement

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  • Paul A. Lengermann
  • Lars Vilhuber

Abstract

declines experienced by workers several years before displacement occurs. Little attention, however, has been paid to other changes in compensation and employment in firms prior to the actual displacement event. This paper examines changes in the composition of job and worker flows before displacement, and compares the "quality" distribution of workers leaving distressed firms to that of all movers in general. More specifically, we exploit a unique dataset that contains observations on all workers over an extended period of time in a number of US states, combined with survey data, to decompose different jobflow statistics according to skill group and number of periods before displacement. Furthermore, we use quantile regression techniques to analyze changes in the skill profile of workers leaving distressed firms. Throughout the paper, our measure for worker skill is derived from person fixed effects estimated using the wage regression techniques pioneered by Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999) in conjunction with the standard specification for displaced worker studies (Jacobson, LaLonde, and Sullivan 1993). We find that there are significant changes to all measures of job and worker flows prior to displacement. In particular, churning rates increase for all skill groups, but retention rates drop for high-skilled workers. The quantile regressions reveal a right-shift in the distribution of worker quality at the time of displacement as compared to average firm exit flows. In the periods prior to displacement, the patterns are consistent with both discouraged high-skilled workers leaving the firm, and management actions to layoff low-skilled workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul A. Lengermann & Lars Vilhuber, 2002. "Abandoning the Sinking Ship: The Composition of Worker Flows Prior to Displacement," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:tpaper:2002-11
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/tp/tp-2002-11.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2002
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    Cited by:

    1. Emilia Del Bono & Andrea Weber & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2012. "Clash Of Career And Family: Fertility Decisions After Job Displacement," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 659-683, August.
    2. Verho, Jouko, 2017. "Economic crises and unemployment persistence: Analysis of job losses during the Finnish 1990s recession," Working Papers 99, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Judith K. Hellerstein, 2009. "Comment on "Ownership Change, Productivity, and Human Capital: New Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data"," NBER Chapters,in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 443-445 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gutierrez, Italo A., 2016. "Job insecurity, unemployment insurance and on-the-job search. Evidence from older American workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 228-245.
    5. Daniel Fackler & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2013. "Establishment exits in Germany: the role of size and age," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 683-700, October.
    6. Fackler, Daniel & Müller, Steffen & Stegmaier, Jens, 2016. "Plant-level employment development before collective displacements: Comparing mass layoffs, plant closures, and bankruptcies," IWH Discussion Papers 27/2016, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    7. Audra Bowlus & Lars Vilhuber, 2001. "Displaced Workers, Early Leavers, and Re-employment Wages," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20015, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    8. Gutierrez, Italo A. & Michaud, Pierre-Carl, 2015. "Employer Downsizing and Older Workers' Health," IZA Discussion Papers 9140, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Bruce C. Fallick & John Haltiwanger & Erika McEntarfer, 2012. "Job-to-job flows and the consequences of job separations," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-73, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Yolanda Kodrzycki, 2007. "Using unexpected recalls to examine the long-term earnings effects of job displacement," Working Papers 07-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    11. Schwerdt, Guido, 2011. "Labor turnover before plant closure: "Leaving the sinking ship" vs. "Captain throwing ballast overboard"," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 93-101, January.
    12. Daniel Fackler & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2014. "Lingering illness or sudden death? Pre-exit employment developments in German establishments," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 1121-1140.
    13. repec:zbw:rwirep:0039 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Petri Böckerman & Mika Maliranta, 2013. "Outsourcing, Occupational Restructuring, and Employee Well-Being: Is There a Silver Lining?," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 878-914, October.
    15. Peter Thompson & Mihaela Pintea, 2008. "Sorting, Selection, and Industry Shakeouts," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 33(1), pages 23-40, August.
    16. 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.
    17. Kenneth A. Couch & Dana W. Placzek, 2010. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 572-589, March.
    18. Huttunen, Kristiina & Moen, Jarle & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2006. "How Destructive Is Creative Destruction? The Costs of Worker Displacement," IZA Discussion Papers 2316, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Emilia Del Bono & Andrea Weber & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2008. "Clash of Career and Family - Fertility Decisions after Job Displacement," Ruhr Economic Papers 0039, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    20. Kevin McKinney & Lars Vilhuber, 2006. "Using linked employer-employee data to investigate the speed of adjustments in downsizing firms," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2006-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    displaced workers; worker flows; quantile regression; fixed effects; longitudinal matched data;

    JEL classification:

    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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