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Is Modern Technology Responsible for Jobless Recoveries?

Listed author(s):
  • Graetz, Georg

    ()

    (Uppsala University)

  • Michaels, Guy

    ()

    (London School of Economics)

Since the early 1990s, recoveries from recessions in the US have been plagued by weak employment growth. One possible explanation for these "jobless" recoveries is rooted in technological change: middle-skill jobs, often involving routine tasks, are lost during recessions, and the displaced workers take time to transition into other jobs (Jaimovich and Siu, 2014). But technological replacement of middle-skill workers is not unique to the US – it also takes place in other developed countries (Goos, Manning, and Salomons, 2014). So if jobless recoveries in the US are due to technology, we might expect to also see them elsewhere in the developed world. We test this possibility using data on recoveries from 71 recessions in 28 industries and 17 countries from 1970-2011. We find that though GDP recovered more slowly after recent recessions, employment did not. Industries that used more routine tasks, and those more exposed to robotization, did not recently experience slower employment recoveries. Finally, middle-skill employment did not recover more slowly after recent recessions, and this pattern was no different in routine-intensive industries. Taken together, this evidence suggests that technology is not causing jobless recoveries in developed countries outside the US.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10470.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10470
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  1. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-1368, December.
  2. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2014. "Explaining job polarization: routine-biased technological change and offshoring," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & David Autor, 2010. "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 16082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Brad Hershbein & Lisa B. Kahn, 2016. "Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings," NBER Working Papers 22762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Bloom, Nicholas & Sadun, Raffaella & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Americans Do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6291, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Graetz, Georg & Michaels, Guy, 2017. "Is Modern Technology Responsible for Jobless Recoveries?," IZA Discussion Papers 10470, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kurt Mitman & Stanislav Rabinovich, 2014. "Unemployment Benefit Extensions Caused Jobless Recoveries!?," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Michael W. Elsby & Ryan Michaels & Gary Solon, 2007. "The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 12853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Autor, David & Dorn, David, 2012. "The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 7068, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2014. "Explaining Job Polarization: Routine-Biased Technological Change and Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2509-2526, August.
  12. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  13. Brewer, Mike & Crossley, Thomas F. & Joyce, Robert, 2013. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 7742, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Galí, Jordi & Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2012. "Slow Recoveries: A Structural Interpretation," CEPR Discussion Papers 8978, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Mary O'Mahony & Marcel P. Timmer, 2009. "Output, Input and Productivity Measures at the Industry Level: The EU KLEMS Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages 374-403, 06.
  16. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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