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Vol. 99, No. 4 (Posted 2017-10-04)

Industrial and Occupational Employment Changes During the Great Recession

by Sangmin Aum, Sang Yoon Lee, and Yongseok Shin

The U.S. labor market contracted sharply during the Great Recession. The ensuing recovery has been sluggish and by some measures still incomplete. In this paper, we break down aggregate employment during the Recession and the recovery into changes across industries and occupations. There is a clear asymmetric pattern: The contraction is driven by sectors and the recovery by occupations. In particular, the contraction between 2008 and 2010 primarily reflects a steep decline in construction employment, partially mitigated by expansions in the food services, education, and health industries. The recovery first came from a gradual increase in low-skill occupation employment across all sectors but after 2012 from a pronounced increase in high-skill occupation employment across all sectors. This pattern of recovery is a continuation of the underlying trend of polarization across occupations, which commenced in the 1980s.

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https://doi.org/10.20955/r.2017.307-317

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