Covid-19 is Also a Reallocation Shock

41 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020 Last revised: 21 May 2020

See all articles by Jose Barrero

Jose Barrero

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

Nicholas Bloom

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven J. Davis

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Hoover Institution

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

Drawing on firm-level expectations at a one-year forecast horizon in the Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU), we construct novel, forward-looking reallocation measures for jobs and sales. These measures rise sharply after February 2020, reaching rates in April that are 2.4 (3.9) times the pre-COVID average for jobs (sales). We also draw on special questions in the April SBU to quantify the near-term impact of the COVID-19 shock on business staffing. We find 3 new hires for every 10 layoffs caused by the shock and estimate that 42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss. Our survey evidence aligns well with anecdotal evidence of large pandemic-induced demand increases at some firms, with contemporaneous evidence on gross business formation, and with a sharp pandemic-induced rise in equity return dispersion across firms. After developing the evidence, we consider implications of our evidence for the economic outlook and for policy responses to the pandemic. Unemployment benefit levels that exceed worker earnings, policies that subsidize employee retention, occupational licensing restrictions, and regulatory barriers to business formation will impede reallocation responses to the COVID-19 shock.

Suggested Citation

Barrero, Jose and Bloom, Nicholas and Davis, Steven J., Covid-19 is Also a Reallocation Shock (May 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27137, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3597869

Jose Barrero (Contact Author)

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) ( email )

Av. Camino a Sta. Teresa 930
Col. Héroes de Padierna
Mexico City, D.F. 01000, Federal District 01080
Mexico

Nicholas Bloom

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building, Room 231
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-725-7836 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://economics.stanford.edu/faculty/bloom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Steven J. Davis

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-7312 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hoover Institution

434 Galvez Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
773 251 1795 (Phone)

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