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The Extent of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: New Evidence from Payroll Data

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  • Daniel Schaefer

    (Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Johannes-Kepler-Universität Linz)

  • Carl Singleton

    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

Abstract

We use over a decade of representative payroll data from Great Britain to study the nominal wage changes of employees who stayed in the same job for at least one year. We show that basic hourly pay drives the cyclicality of marginal labour costs, making this the most relevant measure of wages for macroeconomic models that incorporate wage rigidity. Basic hourly pay adjusts much less frequently than previously thought in Britain, particularly in small firms. We find that firms compress wage growth when inflation is low, which indicates that downward rigidity constrains firms' wage setting. We demonstrate that the empirical extent of downward nominal wage rigidity (DNWR) can theoretically cause considerable long-run output losses. Combined, our results all point to the importance of including DNWR in macroeconomic and monetary policy models.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2021. "The Extent of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: New Evidence from Payroll Data," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2021-22, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
  • Handle: RePEc:rdg:emxxdp:em-dp2021-22
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Downward nominal wage rigidity; Hiring wages; Unemployment fluctuations; Macroeconomic policy; Marginal labour costs;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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