Who Suffers During Recessions?
41 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012 Last revised: 21 Jul 2021
Date Written: March 2012
In this paper we examine how business cycles affect labor market outcomes in the United States. We conduct a detailed analysis of how cycles affect outcomes differentially across persons of differing age, education, race, and gender, and we compare the cyclical sensitivity during the Great Recession to that in the early 1980s recession. We present raw tabulations and estimate a state panel data model that leverages variation across US states in the timing and severity of business cycles. We find that the impacts of the Great Recession are not uniform across demographic groups and have been felt most strongly for men, black and Hispanic workers, youth, and low education workers. These dramatic differences in the cyclicality across demographic groups are remarkably stable across three decades of time and throughout recessionary periods and expansionary periods. For the 2007 recession, these differences are largely explained by differences in exposure to cycles across industry-occupation employment.
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