Related BLS programs | Related articles
July 1991, Vol. 114, No. 7
Job displacement: black and white workers compared
Lori G. Kletzer
Job displacement, caused by a variety of structural changes in the economy, is one of the dominant issues in contemporary U.S. labor market analysis. The labor market experience of displaced workers is a subject of considerable interest to economists, policymakers, and the general public. A number of research efforts have addressed questions concerning the size and composition of the group of displaced workers, the length of jobless periods, earnings upon reemployment, the usefulness of advance notification of plant closings, and losses of specific human capital.1 This article reports on one potentially troubling aspect of job displacement: racial differences in postdisplacement labor market outcomes.2 Using three surveys designed to identify displaced workers, the principal findings of this detailed examination of differences in postdisplacement experiences of whites and blacks are that:
The importance of studying black and white differences in displacement outcomes is suggested by the nature of changes in the economy since the late 1970's. Manufacturing has played an important role in advances in black economic status, and was a major source of employment for black workers by the late 1970's.3 These industries experienced substantial job losses during the early 1980's, and were slow to recover from the 1981-82 recession. Older industrial sectors in the Northeast and North Central regions of the country, where blacks had made significant labor force gains, were hit hard by the structural changes and recessions of the early 1980's. As the economy and labor market continue to respond to these changes, it is important to establish whether the burden is home disproportionately by minority workers.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1991 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full text in PDF (529K)
1 Previous research in this area includes: John T. Addison and Pedro Portugal, "The Effect of Advance Notification of Plant Closing on Unemployment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, October 1987, pp. 3-16; John T. Addison and Pedro Portugal, "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, July 1989, pp. 281-302; Richard M. Devens, Jr., "Displaced workers: one year later," Monthly Labor Review, July 1986, pp. 40-43; Ronald G. Ehrenberg and George Jakubson, Advance Notice Provisions in Plant Closing Legislation (Kalamazoo, MI, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1988); Paul 0. Flaim and Ellen Sehgal, "Displaced workers of 1979-83: how well have they fared?" Monthly Labor Review, June 1985, pp. 316; Daniel S. Hamermesh,"The Costs of Worker Displacement," Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 1987, pp. 51-76; Daniel S. Hamermesh, "What Do We Know About Worker Displacement in the U.S.'?" Industrial Relations, Winter 1989, pp. 51-59; Francis W. Horvath, "The pulse of economic change: displaced workers of 1981-85," Monthly Labor Review, June 1987, pp. 3-12; Lori G. Kletzer, "Returns to Seniority After Permanent Job Loss , American Economic Review, June 1989, pp. 536-43; Lori G. Kletzer, "Earnings After Job Displacement: Job Tenure, Industry, and Occupation," in J.T. Addison, ed., Job Displacement: Consequences and Implications for Policy (Detroit, MI, Wayne State University Press, 1991); Douglas L. Kruse, "International Trade and the Labor Market Experience of Displaced Workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, April 1988, pp. 402-17; Janice F. Madden, "Gender Differences in the Cost of Displacement: An Empirical Test of Discrimination in the Labor Market," American Economic Review, May 1987, pp. 246-51; Michael Podgursky and Paul Swaim, "Job Displacement and Earnings Loss: Evidence from the Displaced Worker Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, October 1987, pp. 17-29; Michael Podgursky and Paul Swaim, "The Duration of Joblessness Following Displacement," Industrial Relations, Fall 1987, pp. 213-26; Christopher J. Ruhm, "The Economic Consequences of Labor Mobility," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, October 1987, pp. 30-49; Christopher J. Rubm, "Labor Market Discrimination in the United States," in F.A. Blanchard and F.J. Crosby, eds., Affirmative Action in Perspective (New York, Springer-Verlag, 1989), pp. 149-58; and Paul Swaim and Michael Podgursky, "Advance Notice and Job Search: The Value of an Early Start," Journal of Human Resources, Spring 1990, pp. 147-78.
2 Most of the works listed in footnote I control for race in their empirical analysis and note race as an important factor in labor market adjustment following permanent job loss. In the case study literature on worker displacement, race has often been a theme. See H.L. Sheppard and J.L. Stem, "Impact of Automation on Workers in Supplier Plants," Labor Law Journal, October 1957, pp. 714-18; and M. Aiken, L.A. Ferman, and H.L. Sheppard, Economic Failure, Alienation, and Extremism (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1968).
3 See J.J. Heckman and B.S. Payner, "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic 'status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, March 1989, pp. 138-77.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers