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Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession

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  • Michael W. Elsby
  • Donggyun Shin
  • Gary Solon

Abstract

Using 1979-2011 Current Population Survey data for the United States and 1975-2011 New Earnings Survey data for Great Britain, we study wage behavior in both countries, with particular attention to the Great Recession. Real wages are procyclical in both countries, but the procyclicality of real wages varies across recessions, and does so differently between the two countries. U.S. distributions of year-to-year nominal wage change show many workers reporting zero change (suggesting wage stickiness) and many reporting nominal reductions (suggesting wage flexibility), but both findings could be distorted by reporting error. The British data, which are based on employers' payroll records, show much lower prevalence of zero wage change, but still show surprisingly frequent nominal wage cuts. The complex constellation of empirical regularities defies explanation by simple theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael W. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2013. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 19478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19478
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    Cited by:

    1. John Grigsby & Erik Hurst & Ahu Yildirmaz, 2021. "Aggregate Nominal Wage Adjustments: New Evidence from Administrative Payroll Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(2), pages 428-471, February.
    2. Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, 2015. "Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 371-413.
    3. Michael W. L. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2016. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession and Other Downturns: Evidence from the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 249-291.
    4. Boris Hirsch & Thomas Zwick, 2015. "How Selective Are Real Wage Cuts? A Micro-analysis Using Linked Employer–Employee Data," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 29(4), pages 327-347, December.
    5. Mary Eschelbach Hansen & Michael E. Martell, 2014. "Self-Identified Sexual Orientation and the Lesbian Earnings Differential," Working Papers 2014-13, American University, Department of Economics.
    6. Razzu, Giovanni & Singleton, Carl, 2016. "Gender and the business cycle: An analysis of labour markets in the US and UK," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 47(PB), pages 131-146.
    7. Giovanni Razzu & Carl Singleton, 2018. "Segregation and Gender Gaps in the United Kingdom's Great Recession and Recovery," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 31-55, October.
    8. Christodoulopoulou, Styliani & Kouvavas, Omiros, 2022. "Wages, compositional effects and the business cycle," Working Paper Series 2653, European Central Bank.
    9. Park, Seonyoung & Shin, Donggyun, 2019. "Inflation and wage rigidity/flexibility in the short run," Working Paper Series 20917, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    10. Boris Cournède & Paula Garda & Volker Ziemann, 2015. "Effects of Economic Policies on Microeconomic Stability," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1201, OECD Publishing.
    11. Fabio B. Gaertner & Asad Kausar & Logan B. Steele, 2020. "Negative accounting earnings and gross domestic product," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 1382-1409, December.
    12. Marczak, Martyna & Gómez, Víctor, 2015. "Cyclicality of real wages in the USA and Germany: New insights from wavelet analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 40-52.
    13. Michael Siemer, 2014. "Firm Entry and Employment Dynamics in the Great Recession," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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