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Using gross flows of workers into and out of employment, we investigate the composition of flows in non-recessionary periods as well as in the Great Recession of 2008-2009. In particular, we use gross flows at highly detailed geographic and demographic levels to assess whether particular demographic groups are less affected by the sharp changes in gross flows during recessions, and whether such effects are robust across detailed geographic areas.

Following Abowd and Vilhuber (2011), we develop a internally consistent measure of national gross worker and job flows with demographic detail. In particular, we expand on the earlier attempt by providing the first estimate of consistent worker and job flows by age and educational attainment. We provide a comparison to existing job and worker flows derived from several independent sources (CPS, BED, JOLTS). We then identify particular patterns in the national data we develop that highlight certain differential effects. Finally, we assess whether such patterns, observed at the national level, are present in all or only a subset of local labor markets.

We find worker reallocation rates nearly three times as large as job reallocation rates. Workers with less than a high-school diploma have a worker reallocation rate that is nearly twice that of workers with a bachelor's degree or higher, whereas there is less discrepancy in job reallocation rates. Finally, while these differences are high, excess reallocation rates for different education groups have converged in the last decade. No such convergence is apparent when disaggregating by age.

The national estimates from the QWI are an important enhancement to existing series because they include demographic and industry detail for both worker and job flow data compiled from the same underlying micro-data that have been integrated at the job and establishment levels by the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program at the Census Bureau. The estimates presented herein were compiled exclusively from public-use data series and are available for download.


Suggested Citation

Abowd, J. & Vilhuber, L. (2012, May). Education, flows and the great recession in the united states. Presented at SOLE.

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Copyright held by authors.