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Did the 2018 Trade War Improve Job Opportunities for US Workers?

By Beata Javorcik, Katherine Stapleton, Benjamin Kett and Layla O'Kane

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A new EBRD Working Paper (number 272)

This paper uses data on the near universe of job adverts posted online in the US to study the impact of the 2018 trade war on US job opportunities. We develop measures of labour market exposure to three key channels of impact from the trade war: import protection for US producers, the higher cost of imported inputs for US producers, and exposure of US exporters to retaliatory tariffs. We find evidence that both tariffs on imported inputs and retaliatory tariffs led to a relative decline in online job postings in affected commuting zones. These effects were stronger for lower skilled postings than for higher skill postings. By contrast, we do not find any evidence of positive impacts of import protection on job openings. We estimate that the tariffs led to a combined effect of 175,000 fewer job postings in 2018, or 0.6 percent of the US total, with two thirds of this aggregate decline due to the imported input tariffs and one-third due to retaliatory tariffs.

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