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Discordant City Employment Cycles

This paper estimates city-level employment cycles for 58 large U.S. cities and documents the substantial cross-city variation in the timing, lengths, and frequencies of their employment contractions. It also shows how the spread of city-level contractions associated with U.S. recessions has tended to follow recession-specific geographic patterns. In addition, cities within the same state or region have tended to have similar employment cycles. We find no evidence that similarities in employment cycles are related to similarities in industry mix, although cities with more-similar high school attainment, mean establishment size, and industrial diversity have tended to have more-similar employment cycles.

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