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April 1995, Vol. 118, No. 4
Jennifer M. Gardner
D uring 1991 and 1992, about 5-1/2 million workers permanently lost jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their positions or shifts were abolished. About half-2.8 million-of those displaced workers were "long-tenured workers," that is, they had lost jobs they had held for 3 years or more. Reflecting the poor labor market conditions associated with the recession in the early 1990's, the number of workers displaced during 1991 and 1992 was greater than the number who had lost jobs the prior 2 years.1 In fact, the number displaced was even greater in the early 1990's than a decade earlier, when the United States was in a much deeper recession. However, the proportion of all long-tenured workers who were displaced from their jobs-the displacement rate-was about the same in the 1991-92 period, 3.8 percent, as it was during the 1981-82 period.2
Despite the similar rates of displacement in the early 1980's and the early 1990's, there were several differences in the extent and nature of displacement. In the more recent period, for example, job loss was more common among workers in service-producing industries and white-collar occupations, and also among workers who lived in the Northeast and West than it was in the early eighties. In addition, the reemployment rate-the proportion of all displaced workers who had found new jobs by the time they were surveyed-was higher for those who were displaced in 1991 and 1992 than for those who lost jobs a decade earlier.
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1 The 1989-90 period included the first part of the 1990-91 recession, which officially lasted from July 1990 to March 1991. However, the labor markets continued to deteriorate for more than a year following the end date, and , as a result, the 1991-992 period had a higher number, and rate, of displacement than did the prior 2-year period.
2Displacement rates are calculated by dividing the number of displaced workers in a specified worker group by a tenure-adjusted, 2-year average estimate of employment for the same worker group. Employment estimates for each year were adjusted, using job-tenure data from January 1983, 1987, and 1991 CPS supplements, to include only those workers with 3 years of tenure or more. A 2-year average was then computed using those adjusted employment estimates.
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