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BPEA | 1997: Microeconomics

The Changing Face of Job Loss in the United States, 1981-1995

discussants: John Haltiwanger and
John Haltiwanger Professor of Economics - University of Maryland
Katharine Abraham
Katharine Abraham
Katharine Abraham Distinguished University Professor - University of Maryland

Microeconomics 1997


IN THE FIRST WEEK of January 1996, AT&T announced it was restructuring
its operations and reducing its managerial work force by 40,000.
This was only the latest in a string of widely publicized large labor
force reductions announced by major American corporations. The public
perceives that corporations are responding to increased competitive
pressure by restructuring and downsizing their work forces, particularly
their white-collar work forces, to an unprecedented degree and that the
workers so displaced are suffering substantial economic hardship. I In
this study I examine evidence from Displaced Workers Surveys (DWSs)
from 1984 to 1996 to provide a comprehensive picture of the incidence
and consequences of job loss between 1981 and 1995 to determine the
extent to which labor force data support these perceptions.