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Downward nominal wage rigidity: evidence from the employment cost index

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  • David E. Lebow
  • Raven E. Saks
  • Beth Anne Wilson

Abstract

We examine the extent of downward nominal wage rigidity using the microdata underlying the BLS employment cost index--an extensive, establishment-based dataset with detailed information on wage and benefit costs. We find stronger evidence of downward nominal wage rigidity than did previous studies using panel data on individuals. Firms appear able to circumvent part, but not all, of this rigidity by varying benefits: Total compensation displays modestly less rigidity than do wages alone. Given our estimated amount of rigidity, a simple model predicts that the disinflation over the 1980s would have raised equilibrium unemployment notably. This prediction stands in contrast to the actual behavior of unemployment over this period: The addition of a term capturing the cost of rigidity (that rises as inflation falls) has no additional explanatory power in a standard Phillips Curve equation.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Lebow & Raven E. Saks & Beth Anne Wilson, 1999. "Downward nominal wage rigidity: evidence from the employment cost index," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-31, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Beth Anne Wilson, 1999. "Wage rigidity: a look inside the firm," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Elsby, Michael W.L., 2009. "Evaluating the economic significance of downward nominal wage rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 154-169, March.
    3. George A. Akerlof, 2007. "The Missing Motivation in Macroeconomics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 5-36, March.
    4. Steinar Holden, 2001. "Monetary Policy and Nominal Rigidities under Low Inflation," CESifo Working Paper Series 481, CESifo.
    5. Christoph Knoppik & Thomas Beissinger, 2003. "How Rigid are Nominal Wages? Evidence and Implications for Germany," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(4), pages 619-641, December.
    6. Fehr, Ernst & Goette, Lorenz, 2005. "Robustness and real consequences of nominal wage rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 779-804, May.
    7. Jan Babecký & Clémence Berson & Ludmila Fadejeva & Ana Lamo & Petra Marotzke & Fernando Martins & Pawel Strzelecki, 2019. "Non-base wage components as a source of wage adaptability to shocks: evidence from European firms, 2010–2013," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 8(1), pages 1-18, December.
    8. Basu, S. & House, C.L., 2016. "Allocative and Remitted Wages," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 297-354, Elsevier.
    9. Jan Babecký, Clémence Berson, Ludmila Fadejeva, Ana Lamo, Petra Marotzke, Fernando Martins, Pawel Strzelecki, 2018. "Non-base wage components as a source of wage adaptability to shocks: Evidence from European firms, 2010–2013," Working papers 681, Banque de France.
    10. Truman F. Bewley, 2002. "Fairness, Reciprocity, and Wage Rigidity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1383, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    11. Beissinger Thomas & Knoppik Christoph, 2001. "Downward Nominal Rigidity in West German Earnings, 1975-95," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 2(4), pages 385-417, December.
    12. Takatoshi Ito, 2004. "Inflation Targeting and Japan: Why has the Bank of Japan not Adopted Inflation Targeting?," RBA Annual Conference Volume (Discontinued), in: Christopher Kent & Simon Guttmann (ed.),The Future of Inflation Targeting, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    13. Bahal, G. & Shrivastava, A., 2016. "Labor Market Effects of Inconsistent Policy Interventions: Evidence from India’s Employment Guarantees," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1669, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    14. Borio, Claudio & Filardo, Andrew J., 2004. "Looking back at the international deflation record," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 287-311, December.
    15. Agell, Jonas & Bennmarker, Helge, 2002. "Wage Policy and Endogenous Wage Rigidity: A Representative View from the Inside," Research Papers in Economics 2002:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    16. Sara G. Castellanos & Rodrigo García-Verdú & David Kaplan, 2004. "Wage Rigidities in Mexico: Evidence from the Administrative Records of the Mexican Social Security Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social)," Working Papers 2004-03, Banco de México.
    17. Bils, Mark & Chang, Yongsung, 2003. "Welfare costs of sticky wages when effort can respond," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 311-330, March.
    18. Agell, Jonas & Bennmarker, Helge, 2002. "Wage policy and endogenous wage rigidity: a representative view from the inside," Working Paper Series 2002:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    19. Louis Christofides & Thanasis Stengos, 2001. "Nominal Wage Rigidity: Non-Parametric Tests Based on Union Data for Canada," CESifo Working Paper Series 535, CESifo.
    20. Stüber, Heiko & Beissinger, Thomas, 2012. "Does downward nominal wage rigidity dampen wage increases?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 870-887.
    21. Silvia Fabiani & Angela Gattulli & Roberto Sabbatini, 2003. "La rigidità dei prezzi in Italia," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 56(223), pages 325-358.
    22. Lundborg, Per, 2008. "Wage Redistribution and the Long Run Phillips Curve," Working Paper Series 3/2008, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    23. Yi-Ping Tseng, 2001. "Individuals’ Wage Changes in Australia 1997-2000," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2001n04, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    24. Kimura, Takeshi & Ueda, Kazuo, 2001. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 50-67, March.
    25. Gaetano Antinolfi & David S. Kaplan, 2007. "Inflation and Establishment Turnover," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 317-341, Summer.

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    Keywords

    Wages; Employment (Economic theory); Cafeteria benefit plans;
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