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Labor Productivity: Structural Change and Cyclical Dynamics

Martin Neil Baily, Eric Bartelsman () and John Haltiwanger

Working Papers from U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies

Abstract: A longstanding issue in empirical economics is the behavior of average labor productivity over the business cycle. This paper provides new insights into the cyclicality of aggregate productivity at the plant level as well as the role of reallocation across plants over the cycle. We find that plant-level productivity is even more procyclical than aggregate productivity because short-run reallocation yields a countercyclical contribution to labor productivity. At the plant level we find the cyclicality of productivity varies systematically with long-run employment growth. Over the course of the cycle, plants that are long-run downsizers exhibit significantly greater procyclicality of productivity than long-run upsizers. When we control for the direction of a cyclical shock, we find that the fall in productivity from an adverse magnitude than the fall in productivity from an equivalent adverse cyclical shock for long-run upsizers. We argue that these findings raise questions about one of the most popular explanations or procyclical productivity: changing factor utilization over the cycle.

Keywords: Cyclical; Productivity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1998-05
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https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/1998/CES-WP-98-07.pdf First version, 1998 (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Labor Productivity: Structural Change And Cyclical Dynamics (2001) Downloads
Working Paper: Labor productivity: structural change and cyclical dynamics (1996) Downloads
Working Paper: Labor Productivity: Structural Change and Cyclical Dynamics (1996) Downloads
Working Paper: Labor productivity: structural change and cyclical dynamics (1995) Downloads
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