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Job Loss in the United States, 1981-2001


  • Henry Farber


I examine changes in the incidence and consequences of job loss between 1981 and 2001 using data from the Displaced Workers Surveys (DWS) from 1984-2002. The overall rate of job loss has a strong counter-cyclical component, but the job loss rate was higher than might have been expected during the mid-1990's given the strong labor market during that period. While the job loss rate of more-educated workers increased, less-educated workers continue to have the highest rates of job loss overall. Displaced workers have a substantially reduced probability of employment and an increased probability of part-time employment subsequent to job loss. The more educated have higher post-displacement employment rates and are more likely to be employed full-time. The probabilities of employment and full-time employment among those reemployed subsequent to job loss increased substantially in the late 1990s, suggesting that the strong labor market eased the transition of displaced workers. Reemployment rates dropped sharply in the recession of 2001. Those re-employed, even full-time and regardless of education level earnings declines relative to what they earned before they were displaced. Additionally, foregone earnings growth (the growth in earnings that would have occurred had the workers not been displaced), is an important part of the cost of job loss for re-employed full-time job losers. There is no evidence of a decline during the tight labor market of the 1990s in the earnings loss of displaced workers who were reemployed full-time. In fact, earnings losses of displaced workers have been increasing since the mid 1990s.

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  • Henry Farber, 2003. "Job Loss in the United States, 1981-2001," NBER Working Papers 9707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9707
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    Cited by:

    1. Giulio Fella, 2004. "Optimal severance pay in a matching model," 2004 Meeting Papers 794, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. John Martin & Stefano Scarpetta, 2012. "Setting It Right: Employment Protection, Labour Reallocation and Productivity," De Economist, Springer, vol. 160(2), pages 89-116, June.
    3. Sandra Cavaco & Denis Fougère & Julien Pouget, 2013. "Estimating the effect of a retraining program on the re-employment rate of displaced workers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 261-287, February.
    4. Burfisher, Mary E. & Hanson, Kenneth & Hopkins, Jeffrey W. & Somwaru, Agapi, 2004. "Global Agricultural Reform and U.S. Agricultural Adjustment Capacity," IAPRAP\IATRC Summer Symposium, Adjusting to Domestic and International Agricultural Reform in Industrial Countries, June 6-7, 2004, Philadelphia, PA 15763, International Agricultural Policy Reform and Adjustment Project (IAPRAP).
    5. Anton Nilsson, 2015. "Who suffers from unemployment? The role of health and skills," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, December.
    6. David Seim, 2012. "Job displacement and labor market outcomes by skill level," Bank of Estonia Working Papers wp2012-4, Bank of Estonia.
    7. Vallanti, Giovanna, 2005. "Capital mobility and unemployment dynamics: evidence from a panel of OECD countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19897, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Doh-Shin Jeon & Joel Shapiro, 2004. "Downsizing, job insecurity and firm reputation," Economics Working Papers 795, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    9. Steven F. Lehrer & Nuno Sousa Pereira, 2008. "Worker Sorting, Health Insurance and Wages: Further Evidence from Displaced Workers in the United States," CEF.UP Working Papers 0804, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    10. Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2008. "Do Initial Conditions Persist between Firms? An Analysis of Firm-Entry Cohort Effects and Job Losers Using Matched Employer-Employee Data," NBER Chapters,in: The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, pages 135-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Tom Krebs & Martin Scheffel, 2013. "Macroeconomic Evaluation of Labor Market Reform in Germany," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(4), pages 664-701, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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