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The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment


  • Justin R. Pierce
  • Peter K. Schott


This paper finds a link between the sharp drop in U.S. manufacturing employment beginning in 2001 and a change in U.S. trade policy that eliminated potential tariff increases on Chinese imports. Industries where the threat of tariff hikes declines the most experience more severe employment losses along with larger increases in the value of imports from China and the number of firms engaged in China-U.S. trade. These results are robust to other potential explanations of the employment loss, and we show that the U.S. employment trends differ from those in the EU, where there was no change in policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2014. "The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4563, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4563

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philippe Aghion & Jing Cai & Mathias Dewatripont & Luosha Du & Ann Harrison & Patrick Legros, 2015. "Industrial Policy and Competition," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 1-32, October.
    2. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:9:p:2784-2820 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2016. "Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1593-1636.
    4. Barry T. Hirsch & David A. MacPherson, 2003. "Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Note," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 349-354, January.
    5. Bai, Xue & Krishna, Kala & Ma, Hong, 2017. "How you export matters: Export mode, learning and productivity in China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 122-137.
    6. Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2009. "A Concordance Between Ten-Digit U.S. Harmonized System Codes and SIC/NAICS Product Classes and Industries," NBER Working Papers 15548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Amit K. Khandelwal & Peter K. Schott & Shang-Jin Wei, 2013. "Trade Liberalization and Embedded Institutional Reform: Evidence from Chinese Exporters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2169-2195, October.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    9. Loren Brandt & Johannes Van Biesebroeck & Luhang Wang & Yifan Zhang, 2017. "WTO Accession and Performance of Chinese Manufacturing Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(9), pages 2784-2820, September.
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    More about this item


    manufacturing; trade policy; uncertainty; offshoring; supply chains; employment; China; World Trade Organizations; PNTR;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F61 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Microeconomic Impacts
    • F66 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Labor
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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