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Asking About Wages: Results from the Bank of Canada’s Wage Setting Survey of Canadian Companies

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  • David Amirault
  • Paul Fenton
  • Thérèse Laflèche
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    Abstract

    The Bank of Canada conducted a Wage Setting Survey with a sample of 200 private sector firms from mid-October 2007 to May 2008. Results indicate that wage adjustments for the Canadian non-union private workforce are overwhelmingly time dependent, with a fixed duration of one year, and are clustered in the first four months of the year, suggesting that wage stickiness may not be constant over the year. Ad hoc adjustments between these fixed dates are rare, but when they do occur they are almost always upward and often in response to tight labour markets. The market wage rate is the most important factor managers consider when setting wages for their employees. Depending on firm size, different strategies are used to gain information about the market wage. Other important factors taken into account when setting wages include the firm’s profitability, its difficulty in attracting staff and workers’ productivity. While many managers acknowledge a link between the wage decision and inflation, very few use formal wage indexation rules such as a cost-of-living adjustment. Rather, most describe an informal backward-looking link. Survey results also suggest that managers are very reluctant to cut nominal base wages in times of weak demand. Managers are more likely to cut incentive pay, which would allow some flexibility in total compensation even if base pay is inflexible, or reduce the quantity of labour inputs (hours and employees).

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Discussion Papers with number 13-1.

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    Length: 51 pages
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bca:bocadp:13-1

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    Keywords: Labour markets; Transmission of monetary policy;

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    1. Daniel de Munnik & Mark Illing & David Dupuis, 2013. "Assessing the accuracy of non-random business conditions surveys: a novel approach," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(2), pages 371-388, 02.
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    3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 8403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Shutao Cao & Enchuan Shao & Pedro Silos, 2010. "Fixed-Term and Permanent Employment Contracts: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series, CESifo Group Munich 3150, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Taylor, John B, 1979. "Staggered Wage Setting in a Macro Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 108-13, May.
    8. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2009. "Alternative Measures of Offshorability: A Survey Approach," NBER Working Papers 15287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2002. "An estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Research, National Bank of Belgium 35, National Bank of Belgium.
    10. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
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