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Unemployment Fluctuations, Match Quality, and the Wage Cyclicality of New Hires

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  • Mark Gertler
  • Christopher Huckfeldt
  • Antonella Trigari

Abstract

Macroeconomic models often incorporate some form of wage stickiness to help account for employment fluctuations. However, a recent literature calls in to question this approach, citing evidence of new hire wage cyclicality from panel data studies as evidence for contractual wage flexibility for new hires, which is the relevant margin for employment volatility. We analyze data from the SIPP and find that the wages for new hires coming from unemployment are no more cyclical than those of existing workers, suggesting wages are sticky at the relevant margin. The new hire wage cyclicality found in earlier studies instead appears to reflect cyclical average wage gains of workers making job-to-job transitions, which we interpret as evidence of procyclical match quality for new hires from employment. We then develop a quantitative general equilibrium model with sticky wages via staggered contracting, on-the-job search, and variable match quality, and show that it can account for both the panel data evidence and aggregate labor market regularities. An additional implication of the model is that a sullying effect of recessions emerges, along the lines originally suggested by Barlevy (2002)

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Gertler & Christopher Huckfeldt & Antonella Trigari, 2016. "Unemployment Fluctuations, Match Quality, and the Wage Cyclicality of New Hires," NBER Working Papers 22341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22341
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henry Hyatt & Erika McEntarfer, 2012. "Job-to-Job Flows in the Great Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 580-583, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Grigsby & Erik Hurst, 2019. "Aggregate Nominal Wage Adjustments: New Evidence from Administrative Payroll Data," 2019 Meeting Papers 153, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Merkl, Christian & Stüber, Heiko, 2016. "Wage cyclicalities and labor market dynamics at the establishment level: Theory and evidence," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 12/2016, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    3. Faccini, Renato & Melosi, Leonardo, 2019. "Bad Jobs and Low Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 13628, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Wouter J Den Haan & Pontus Rendahl & Markus Riegler, 2018. "Unemployment (Fears) and Deflationary Spirals," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(5), pages 1281-1349.
    5. Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2017. "Real Wages and Hours in the Great Recession: Evidence from Firms and their Entry-Level Jobs," CESifo Working Paper Series 6766, CESifo.
    6. Isaac Baley & Ana Figueiredo & Robert Ulbricht, 2018. "Mismatch Cycles," 2018 Meeting Papers 1098, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Grace Weishi Gu & Eswar Prasad, 2018. "New Evidence on Cyclical Variation in Labor Costs in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 24266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. John Grigsby & Erik Hurst & Ahu Yildirmaz, 2019. "Aggregate Nominal Wage Adjustments: New Evidence from Administrative Payroll Data," NBER Working Papers 25628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Martin Wolf, 2019. "Pecuniary Externalities in Economies with Downward Wage Rigidity," Vienna Economics Papers 1905, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    10. Hergovich, Philipp & Merz, Monika, 2018. "The Price of Capital, Factor Substitutability, and Corporate Profits," CEPR Discussion Papers 13168, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Schaefer, Daniel & Singleton, Carl, 2019. "Cyclical labor costs within jobs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    12. Joyce Hahn & Henry Hyatt & Hubert Janicki, 2018. "Job Ladders and Growth in Earnings, Hours, and Wages," 2018 Meeting Papers 908, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Jäger, Simon & Schoefer, Benjamin & Young, Samuel & Zweimüller, Josef, 2018. "Wages and the Value of Nonemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 11996, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Kevin x.d. Huang & Munechika Katayama & Mototsugu Shintani & Takayuki Tsuruga, 2017. "Sticky-Wage Models and Knowledge Capital: A Note," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 17-00006, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    15. Christopher Huckfeldt, 2018. "Understanding the Scarring Effect of Recessions," 2018 Meeting Papers 1207, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Carlsson, Mikael & Westermark, Andreas, 2016. "Endogenous Separations, Wage Rigidities and Employment Volatility," Working Paper Series 326, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    17. Philipp Hergovich & Monika Merz, 2018. "The Price of Capital, Factor Substitutability and Corporate Profits," Vienna Economics Papers 1801, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    18. James M. Malcomson & Sophocles Mavroeidis, 2017. "Bargaining and Wage Rigidity in a Matching Model for the US," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(6), pages 997-1017, December.
    19. Gottfries, Axel & Teulings, Coen N, 2017. "Wage posting, nominal rigidity, and cyclical inefficiencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 12316, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Lydon, Reamonn & Lozej, Matija, 2018. "Flexibility of new hires’ earnings in Ireland," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 112-127.
    21. Axel Gottfries, 2018. "Partial commitment in models of on-the-job search with an application to minimum wage spillovers," 2018 Meeting Papers 567, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    22. Hie Joo Ahn & Ling Shao, 2017. "Precautionary On-the-Job Search over the Business Cycle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-025, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    23. Martin, Chris & Wang, Bingsong, 2018. "Unemployment Volatility in a Behavioural Search Model," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1179, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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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