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While the Iron Is Hot: Examining the Economic Impact of 2023 Strikes

April 18, 2024 by Bjorn Markeson & Chandler West

In the last year, the United States witnessed a notable surge in strikes, with significant ramifications for various sectors of the economy. 

2023 saw a considerable uptick in strikes, with 33 major work stoppages—the highest in over two decades. Notably, these strikes involved nearly 459,000 workers, resulting in approximately 16.7 million days of lost work. Among these, the SAG-AFTRA strike, involving 160,000 actors and lasting four months, stood out as one of the most significant.

Drawing from recent data, this analysis delves into the economic effects of some of the most high-profile strikes, those by the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the Writers Guild, the United Auto Workers (UAW), and a coalition of unions against healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente.

Analysis of High-Profile Strikes

Using IMPLAN Cloud and input-output analysis, we can take a look at the ripple effects that strikes create in the economy at large.

1. SAG-AFTRA Strike: The economic impact of the four-month SAG-AFTRA strike was profound. With over 160,000 workers participating, equivalent to 53,333 person-years of employment, the indirect and induced effects led to a staggering loss of 42,700 jobs and $10.5 billion in GDP.

2. Writers Guild Strike: The Writers Guild strike, affecting 11,500 workers for approximately a quarter of the year, resulted in the loss of 2,200 jobs and a GDP decrease of $566 million over three months.

3. UAW Strike: The strike by the United Auto Workers against major automakers, while shorter in duration, had significant regional impacts. Shutdowns in Lucas County, OH; Wayne County, MI; and St. Charles County, MO, led to 10,000 jobs impacted and $1.5 billion in GDP losses.

4. Kaiser Strike: Despite involving 75,600 workers, the three-day strike at Kaiser Permanente had a relatively negligible economic impact.

The data from these high-profile strikes underscore their substantial economic repercussions, ranging from job losses to GDP declines, and regional disruptions. By analyzing these impacts, policymakers, businesses, and labor organizations can better understand the dynamics of strikes and their broader implications for the economy.

As strike activity continues to evolve, further research and proactive measures may be necessary to mitigate the adverse effects on workers, industries, and the overall economy.

Stay tuned for more insights and analysis from IMPLAN.

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Topics: Economics, Impact


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