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Wages and unemployment across business cycles: a high-frequency investigation


  • Lei Fang
  • Pedro Silos


This paper investigates the change in wages associated with a spell of unemployment. The novelty lies in using monthly data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to analyze the dynamics of those wage changes across different business cycles. The level of education or the sector of re-employment affects the change in wages following an unemployment spell differently across different downturns. The degree of wage rigidity varies across recessions; wage changes pre- and post-unemployment are sometimes procyclical and sometimes countercyclical. These results may be useful for understanding the different aggregate employment dynamics observed across downturns and recoveries.

Suggested Citation

  • Lei Fang & Pedro Silos, 2012. "Wages and unemployment across business cycles: a high-frequency investigation," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2012-16

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    4. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
    5. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1989. "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 281-302, July.
    6. Shin, Donggyun, 1994. "Cyclicality of real wages among young men," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-142, October.
    7. Barlevy, Gadi, 2001. "Why Are the Wages of Job Changers So Procyclical?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 837-878, October.
    8. Vishwanath, Tara, 1989. "Job Search, Stigma Effect, and Escape Rate from Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 487-502, October.
    9. Alessandro Barattieri & Susanto Basu & Peter Gottschalk, 2014. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Wages," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 70-101, January.
    10. Heckman, James J & Borjas, George J, 1980. "Does Unemployment Cause Future Unemployment? Definitions, Questions and Answers from a Continuous Time Model of Heterogeneity and State Dependence," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 247-283, August.
    11. Robert Shimer, 2004. "The Consequences of Rigid Wages in Search Models," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 469-479, 04/05.
    12. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-689, August.
    13. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1985. "Short-run Equilibrium Dynamics of Unemployment Vacancies, and Real Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 676-690, September.
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