Downsizing, Layoffs and Plant Closure: The Impacts of Import Price Pressure and Technological Growth on U.S. Textile Producers
Downsizing, layoffs and plant closure are three plant-level responses to adverse economic conditions. I provide a theoretical and empirical analysis that illustrates the sources of each phenomenon and the implications for production and employment in the textiles industry. I consider two potential causes of these phenomena: technological progress and increased import competition. I create a micro-founded model of plant-level decision-making and combine it with conditions for dynamic market equilibrium. Through use of detailed plant-level information available in the US Census of Manufacturers and the Annual Survey of Manufacturers for the period 1982-2001, along with price data on imports, I examine the relative contribution of technology and import competition to the decline in output, employment and number of plants in textiles production in the US in recent years. The market-clearing domestic price of textiles is identified as a crucial channel in transmitting technology or import price shocks to downsizing, layoffs and plant closure. The model is estimated on two 4-digit sectors of textiles production (SIC 2211, broadwoven cotton and SIC 2221, broadwoven man-made fiber). The results validate modeling the production sectors as monopolistically competitive, and the elasticity of substitution between foreign and domestic varieties is found to be quite high. The coefficients on the productive technology are sensible, as are the estimated parameters of the plant exit, entry and investment decision rules. In simulations for the broadwoven cotton industry, the effects of technological progress are shown to have a much larger impact on layoffs than on plant closure, with plant size as measured by output actually increasing. Falling foreign prices lead to greater relative magnitudes of plant closure than of downsizing or layoffs.
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