Research / BFI Working PaperJan 10, 2021

COVID-19 Is a Persistent Reallocation Shock

Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Steven J. Davis, Brent H. Meyer

Drawing on data from the firm-level Survey of Business Uncertainty, we present three pieces of evidence that COVID-19 is a persistent reallocation shock. First, rates of excess job and sales reallocation over 24-month periods have risen sharply since the pandemic struck, especially for sales. We compute these rates by aggregating over monthly firm-level observations that look back 12 months and ahead 12 months. Second, as of December 2020, firm-level forecasts of sales revenue growth over the next year imply a continuation of recent changes, not a reversal. Third, COVID-19 shifted relative employment growth trends in favor of industries with a high capacity of employees to work from home, and against those with a low capacity.

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