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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. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1713-1764, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Grégory Jolivet & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "The Empirical Content of the Job Search Model: Labor Mobility and Wage Distributions in Europe and the U.S," Post-Print hal-00308803, HAL.
    4. Guido Menzio & Shouyong Shi, 2011. "Efficient Search on the Job and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 468-510.
    5. Jolivet, Gregory & Postel-Vinay, Fabien & Robin, Jean-Marc, 2006. "The empirical content of the job search model: Labor mobility and wage distributions in Europe and the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 877-907, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Steven J. Davis & Till Von Wachter, 2011. "Recessions and the Costs of Job Loss," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 1-72.
    8. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
    9. 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.
    10. Pedro S. Martins & Gary Solon & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2012. "Measuring What Employers Do about Entry Wages over the Business Cycle: A New Approach," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 36-55, October.
    11. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1991. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 665-688, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Christopher Huckfeldt, 2018. "Understanding the Scarring Effect of Recessions," 2018 Meeting Papers 1207, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. repec:oup:jeurec:v:16:y:2018:i:5:p:1281-1349. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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 Group Munich.
    5. 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.
    6. Carlsson, Mikael & Westermark, Andreas, 2016. "Endogenous Separations, Wage Rigidities and Employment Volatility," Working Paper Series 326, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    7. Hergovich, Philipp & Merz, Monika, 2018. "The Price of Capital, Factor Substitutability, and Corporate Profits," CEPR Discussion Papers 13168, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Philipp Hergovich & Monika Merz, 2018. "The Price of Capital, Factor Substitutability and Corporate Profits," Vienna Economics Papers 1801, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    9. 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.
    10. Faccini, Renato & Melosi, Leonardo, 2019. "Bad Jobs and Low Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 13628, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Jäger, Simon & Schoefer, Benjamin & Young, Samuel & Zweimüller, Josef, 2018. "Wages and the Value of Nonemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13293, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    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. Isaac Baley & Ana Figueiredo & Robert Ulbricht, 2018. "Mismatch Cycles," 2018 Meeting Papers 1098, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Gottfries, Axel & Teulings, Coen N, 2017. "Wage posting, nominal rigidity, and cyclical inefficiencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 12316, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Lydon, Reamonn & Lozej, Matija, 2018. "Flexibility of new hires’ earnings in Ireland," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 112-127.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. 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 (US).
    19. 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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