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Employment Efficiency and Sticky Wages: Evidence from Flows in the Labor Market

  • Robert E. Hall

    (Hoover Institution and Department of Economics, Stanford University and National Bureau of Economic Research)

I consider three views of the labor market. In the first, wages are flexible and employment follows the principle of bilateral efficiency. Workers never lose their jobs because of sticky wages. In the second, wages are sticky and inefficient layoffs do occur. In the third, wages are also sticky, but employment governance is efficient. I show that the behavior of flows in the labor market strongly favors the third view. In the modern U.S. economy, recessions do not begin with a burst of layoffs. Unemployment rises because jobs are hard to find, not because an unusual number of people are thrown into unemployment. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 397-407

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:87:y:2005:i:3:p:397-407
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  1. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium wage dispersion with worker and employer heterogeneity," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/dc0ckec3fcb, Sciences Po.
  2. P. Diamond, 1980. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Working papers 268, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Bruce C. Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2001. "The importance of employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-18, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  5. Harold L. Cole & Richard Rogerson, 1996. "Can the Mortonson-Pissarides matching model match the business cycle facts?," Staff Report 224, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1985. "Short-run Equilibrium Dynamics of Unemployment Vacancies, and Real Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 676-90, September.
  7. Postel-Vinay & Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium wage dispersion with worker and employer heterogeneity," Working Papers 155908, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  8. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
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