tc columbia

The Effect of Job Displacement on College Enrollment: Evidence from Ohio

Date and Time: March 20, 2020 8 a.m.–9:30 a.m. CST
Location: Online

Due to the spread of COVID-19, this presentation took place via livestream. 

Displaced workers suffer large and persistent earnings losses. These losses can be mitigated by returning to school, but the extent to which such workers enroll in post-secondary education in response to displacement is poorly understood. Using employer-employee-student matched administrative data from Ohio, we provide the first direct evidence of worker’s enrollment responses following mass layoffs in the United States. Close to 10% of these displaced workers enroll in public two- or four-year colleges after displacement, with the typical enrollment persisting for five semesters and 29% completing a degree. However, much of this enrollment may have occurred regardless of the displacement.

In this session, researchers described their findings related to displaced workers and college enrollment. To estimate a causal effect, they compared displaced workers over time to similar non-displaced workers. They estimated that for every 100 displaced workers, only about two are ever induced to enroll in a public college as a result. Workers may anticipate a layoff event at their firm, as enrollment appears to begin rising in the quarters just prior to the displacement. Lastly, they found the propensity to enroll in college varies by calendar-quarter of layoff: Workers laid off in the third quarter (Jul.-Sep.) are the most likely to enroll. Displacement appears to have no significant positive enrollment effect for those laid off in the fourth quarter (Oct.-Dec.).

Associated Papers


Senior Research Scholar
Community College Research Center
Senior Research Associate
Community College Research Center
Brendan Moore
Research Analyst
Federal Reserve Bank of New York