Working Papers

Submitted by Jake Blackwood on Tuesday, 1/16/2024, at 3:12 PM

Same Shock, Separate Channels: House Prices and Firm Performance in the Great Recession 

I explore whether credit supply conditions, working through local bank balance sheets, explain the influence of house prices on small businesses, both young and old, during the Great Recession. Combining confidential business-level microdata with housing and banking data, I show this credit supply channel substantially impacted old and small businesses. Young businesses were disproportionately sensitive to house prices, but the bank credit channel explains little of their excess sensitivity. I then develop a macroeconomic model that is consistent with these findings where house prices work through two channels: a bank credit supply channel and a housing collateral channel.


Opening the Black Box: Task and Skill Mix and Productivity Dispersion , NBER Working Paper No 30620 with Cindy Cunningham, Matthew Dey, Lucia Foster, Cheryl Grim, John C. Haltiwanger, Rachel L. Nesbit, Sabrina Pabilonia, Jay Stewart, Cody Tuttle and Zoltan Wolf

An important gap in most empirical studies of establishment-level productivity is the limited information about workers’ characteristics and their tasks. Skill-adjusted labor input measures have been shown to be important for aggregate productivity measurement. Moreover, the theoretical literature on differences in production technologies across businesses increasingly emphasizes the task content of production. Our ultimate objective is to open this black box of tasks and skills at the establishment-level by combining establishment-level data on occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) with a restricted-access establishment-level productivity dataset created by the BLS-Census Bureau Collaborative Micro-productivity Project. We take a first step toward this objective by exploring the conceptual, specification, and measurement issues to be confronted. We provide suggestive empirical analysis of the relationship between within-industry dispersion in productivity and tasks and skills. We find that within-industry productivity dispersion is strongly positively related to within-industry task/skill dispersion.

Productivity Dispersion and Structural Change in Retail Trade, CES Working Paper No. 23-60 with Dominic Smith, Michale D. Giandrea, Cheryl Grim,  Jay Stewart, and Zoltan Wolf

Official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of productivity growth in the retail trade sector
indicate that productivity has grown at a moderate rate of 2.8 percent per year between 1987
and 2017, and that there is considerable variation in growth rates across 4-digit industries. But
the official data, which can be thought of as weighted averages of establishment-level
productivity, tell us nothing about what goes on within industries. Given the transformation of
retail trade over the past three decades, this information could provide more insight. In this
paper, we present productivity dispersion statistics for industries in the retail trade sector. These
statistics are similar to the BLS-Census Bureau Dispersion Statistics on Productivity (DiSP) for
manufacturing industries and complement the official BLS industry-level productivity statistics.
We find that from 1987 through 2017, productivity dispersion increased slightly on average.
Surprisingly, the tails of the retail productivity distribution have similar dispersion as we find in
the middle. Firm dispersion has increased more than establishment dispersion.

Collaborative Micro-Productivity Project: Establishment-Level Productivity Dataset, 1972-2020 , CES Working Paper No. 23-65 with Cheryl Grim,  Rachel L. Nesbit, Cody Tuttle, and Zoltan Wolf

We describe the process for building the Collaborative Micro-productivity Project (CMP)
microdata and calculating establishment-level productivity numbers. The documentation is for
version 7 and the data cover the years 1972-2020. These data have been used in numerous
research papers and are used to create the experimental public-use data product Dispersion
Statistics on Productivity (DiSP).

Attachment Size
SSSC_052023_draft.pdf 1.17 MB


Submitted by Jake Blackwood on Wednesday, 7/20/2022, at 12:00 PM

Macro and Micro Dynamics of Productivity: From Devilish Details to Insights with Cheryl Grim, Lucia Foster, John Haltiwanger, and Zoltan Wolf

Published in American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 142-72, July 2021.

Firm-level, revenue-based productivity measures are ubiquitous in studies of firm dynamics and aggregate outcomes. One common measure is increasingly interpreted as reflecting "distortions" since in distortions' absence, equalization of marginal revenue products should yield no dispersion in this measure. Another common but distinct measure is the residual of the firm-level revenue function, which reflects "fundamentals." Using micro-level US manufacturing data, we find these alternative measures are highly correlated, exhibit similar dispersion, and have similar relationships with growth and survival. However, the distinction between these alternative measures is critically important for quantitative assessment of the level and decline of allocative efficiency.

Work in Progress

Submitted by Jake Blackwood on Tuesday, 1/16/2024, at 3:17 PM

Financial Markets, Productivity Dispersion, and Misallocation

Allocating Misallocation: Decomposing Measures of Aggregate Allocative Efficiency 
with John Haltiwanger and Zoltan Wolf [slides here]

Do the Means Matter for the Ends? An Evaluation of Optimal Unemployment Assistance under Search Frictions  
with Neil White