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Job Creation and Firm Dynamics in the United States

John Haltiwanger

Innovation Policy and the Economy, 2012, vol. 12, issue 1, 17 - 38

Abstract: Executive SummaryBusiness dynamism plays an important role in job creation and productivity growth in the United States. Business start-ups are an important contributor to that dynamism. Start-ups contribute disproportionately to job creation but are very heterogeneous in terms of productivity. The subsequent "up-or-out" dynamic of young businesses is an important source of job and productivity growth: exiting young businesses are of very low productivity, and the surviving young businesses exhibit rapid growth with above average productivity. The United States shows signs of becoming less dynamic over time--exhibiting a slower pace of reallocation with an accompanying slower pace of job creation from business start-ups. The recent recession saw the lowest overall rate of gross job creation and job creation from start-ups since at least 1980. Job creation for small (young) businesses took an especially large hit in the recession and has been very slow to recover. An open question is whether the observed decline in dynamism exhibited by U.S. businesses will have adverse consequences for U.S. innovation, job, and productivity growth in the future.The fundamental impulse that keeps the capital engine in motion comes from the new consumers' goods, the new methods of production and transportation, the new markets.... [The process] incessantly revolutionizes from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact of capitalism.Joseph Schumpeter

Date: 2012
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