The Geography of Worker Adaptation: Industry, Skills, Retraining, Mobility, and Housing Costs

Awarded Scholars:
Jeffrey Zabel , Tufts University
Keren Mertens Horn , University of Massachusetts, Boston
Henry Pollakowski, Harvard University
Project Date:
Jul 2019
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

Economists Jeffrey Zabel, Keren Mertens Horn, and Henry Pollakowski will examine worker adaptation to changing labor market conditions, following a nationally-representative sample of several million workers who experienced involuntary layoffs. The data come from three confidential sources, which can be merged: (1) the Census’ Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data, (2) IRS-based data on sole proprietors, and (3) the confidential files from the 2000 Decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS).

The principal investigators will describe worker adaptation to changes in demand for labor across dimensions such as worker history, including industry and earnings, and worker and household characteristics, including age, education, homeownership, and race. Their primary contribution will be a focus on geography, that is, how place shapes worker outcomes. They will measure which workers find jobs locally, which in other locations, and which leave the labor force.


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