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Strong Employers and Weak Employees: How Does Employer Concentration Affect Wages?

Author

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  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Nittai Bergman
  • Hyunseob Kim

Abstract

We analyze the effect of local-level labor market concentration on wages. Using Census data over the period 1977–2009, we find that: (1) local-level employer concentration exhibits substantial cross-sectional and time-series variation and increases over time; (2) consistent with labor market monopsony power, there is a negative relation between local-level employer concentration and wages that is more pronounced at high levels of concentration and increases over time; (3) the negative relation between labor market concentration and wages is stronger when unionization rates are low; (4) the link between productivity growth and wage growth is stronger when labor markets are less concentrated; and (5) exposure to greater import competition from China (the “China Shock”) is associated with more concentrated labor markets. These five results emphasize the role of local-level labor market monopsonies in influencing firm wage-setting behavior and can potentially explain some of the stagnation of wages in the United States over the past several decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Efraim Benmelech & Nittai Bergman & Hyunseob Kim, 2018. "Strong Employers and Weak Employees: How Does Employer Concentration Affect Wages?," NBER Working Papers 24307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24307
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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
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets

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