IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/red/sed019/153.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Aggregate Nominal Wage Adjustments: New Evidence from Administrative Payroll Data

Author

Listed:
  • John Grigsby

    (University of Chicago)

  • Erik Hurst

    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

Using administrative payroll data from the largest U.S. payroll processing company, we document a series of new facts about nominal wage adjustments in the United States. We first show that per-period contract (``base'') wages are a large share of compensation and are more persistent than bonuses suggesting that base wages may be a better proxy for allocative wages than average hourly earnings. Nominal base wage declines are much rarer than previously thought with only 2\% of job-stayers receiving a nominal base wage cut during a given year. However, accounting for shifts in nominal wages of job-changers implies that \textit{aggregate} nominal wages are more flexible than the base nominal wages of job-stayers. Other forms of compensation, such as bonuses, work similarly to sales in the output price literature, and provide a margin of short-run adjustment which may be important for earnings dynamics and for financially constrained firms. In addition, nominal wage adjustments are state-dependent: downward aggregate nominal wage adjustments were much more common during the Great Recessions than in the subsequent recovery period, and these downward adjustments were concentrated in industries hit hardest by the recession and in shrinking firms. Finally, we provide evidence that the flexibility of new hire base wages is similar to that of existing workers. Collectively, our results can be used to discipline models of worker nominal wage adjustments and models of wage rigidity.

Suggested Citation

  • John Grigsby & Erik Hurst, 2019. "Aggregate Nominal Wage Adjustments: New Evidence from Administrative Payroll Data," 2019 Meeting Papers 153, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed019:153
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://red-files-public.s3.amazonaws.com/meetpapers/2019/paper_153.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fatih Guvenen & Fatih Karahan & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2015. "What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Risk?," NBER Working Papers 20913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Haefke, Christian & Sonntag, Marcus & van Rens, Thijs, 2013. "Wage rigidity and job creation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(8), pages 887-899.
    3. Taylor, John B, 1979. "Staggered Wage Setting in a Macro Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 108-113, May.
    4. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage Bargaining with On-the-Job Search: Theory and Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 323-364, March.
    5. Bruce Fallick & Daniel Villar Vallenas & William L. Wascher, 2016. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in the United States During and After the Great Recession," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-001r1, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 15 May 2020.
    6. Mark Gertler & Christopher Huckfeldt & Antonella Trigari, 2020. "Unemployment Fluctuations, Match Quality, and the Wage Cyclicality of New Hires," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 87(4), pages 1876-1914.
    7. Lindé, Jesper & Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2016. "Challenges for Central Banks´ Macro Models," Working Paper Series 323, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    8. Bewley, Truman, 2004. "Fairness, Reciprocity, and Wage Rigidity," IZA Discussion Papers 1137, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pdjkuc9g8grh35j2 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Martin Beraja & Erik Hurst & Juan Ospina, 2019. "The Aggregate Implications of Regional Business Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 87(6), pages 1789-1833, November.
    11. Ekaterina S. Jardim & Gary Solon & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2019. "How Prevalent Is Downward Rigidity in Nominal Wages? Evidence from Payroll Records in Washington State," NBER Working Papers 25470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
    13. John Bound & Charles Brown & Greg J. Duncan & Willard L. Rodgers, 1989. "Measurement Error In Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Surveys: Results From Two Validation Studies," NBER Working Papers 2884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Gary Solon & Warren Whatley & Ann Huff Stevens, 1997. "Wage Changes and Intrafirm Job Mobility over the Business Cycle: Two Case Studies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(3), pages 402-415, April.
    15. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2295-2350, November.
    16. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    17. Lebow David E & Saks Raven E & Wilson Beth Anne, 2003. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: Evidence from the Employment Cost Index," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, October.
    18. Patrick J. Kehoe & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Temporary price changes and the real effects of monetary policy," Working Papers 661, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    19. Joseph G. Altonji & Paul J. Devereux, 1999. "The Extent and Consequences of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 7236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Benjamin Schoefer, 2016. "The Financial Channel of Wage Rigidity," 2016 Meeting Papers 1605, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. 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.
    22. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
    23. Fehr, Ernst & Goette, Lorenz, 2005. "Robustness and real consequences of nominal wage rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 779-804, May.
    24. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Post-Print hal-03458567, HAL.
    25. Hyatt, Henry R. & Spletzer, James R., 2016. "The shifting job tenure distribution," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 363-377.
    26. Uribe, Martín & Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie, 2012. "The Making Of A Great Contraction With A Liquidity Trap and A Jobless Recovery," CEPR Discussion Papers 9237, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    27. Kahn, Shulamit, 1997. "Evidence of Nominal Wage Stickiness from Microdata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 993-1008, December.
    28. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2009. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1339-1369, September.
    29. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-1059, October.
    30. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. 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.
    32. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "A Model of the Consumption Response to Fiscal Stimulus Payments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(4), pages 1199-1239, July.
    33. Virgiliu Midrigan, 2011. "Menu Costs, Multiproduct Firms, and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1139-1180, July.
    34. Carl M. Campbell III & Kunal S. Kamlani, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 112(3), pages 759-789.
    35. Alessandro Barattieri & Susanto Basu & Peter Gottschalk, 2014. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Wages," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 70-101, January.
    36. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/dc0ckec3fcb29ms9850c12h1p is not listed on IDEAS
    37. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464.
    38. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    39. Kudlyak, Marianna, 2014. "The cyclicality of the user cost of labor," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 53-67.
    40. Frank Smets & Rafael Wouters, 2007. "Shocks and Frictions in US Business Cycles: A Bayesian DSGE Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 586-606, June.
    41. Michael W. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2013. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 19478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage bargaining with on-the-job search: theory and evidence," Post-Print hal-03471856, HAL.
    43. Peter Howitt, 2002. "Looking Inside the Labor Market: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 125-138, March.
    44. J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), 2016. "Handbook of Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 2, number 2.
    45. Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2007. "New Evidence On Real Wage Cyclicality Within Employer–Employee Matches," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(5), pages 648-660, November.
    46. 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.
    47. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium wage dispersion with worker and employer heterogeneity," Post-Print hal-03587660, HAL.
    48. 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.
    49. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1995. " Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(2), pages 295-307, June.
    50. Martin Eichenbaum & Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "Reference Prices, Costs, and Nominal Rigidities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 234-262, February.
    51. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/dc0ckec3fcb29ms985085gkbp is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Daniel Schäfer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Nominal Wage Adjustments and the Composition of Pay: New Evidence from Payroll Data," Economics working papers 2020-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Jonathon Hazell & Bledi Taska, 2020. "Downward Rigidity in the Wage for New Hires," Discussion Papers 2028, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    3. Bauer, Anja & Lochner, Benjamin, 2020. "History dependence in wages and cyclical selection: Evidence from Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    4. Basu, S. & House, C.L., 2016. "Allocative and Remitted Wages," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 297-354, Elsevier.
    5. Anne Kathrin Funk & Daniel Kaufmann, 2022. "Do Sticky Wages Matter? New Evidence from Matched Firm Survey and Register Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(355), pages 689-712, July.
    6. Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2023. "The Extent of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: New Evidence from Payroll Data," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 51, pages 60-76, December.
    7. Andrew Snell & Heiko Stuber & Jonathan Thomas, 2018. "Downward Real Wage Rigidity and Equal Treatment Wage Contracts: Theory and Evidence," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 30, pages 265-284, October.
    8. Emmanuel Saez & Pascal Michaillat, 2013. "A Theory of Aggregate Supply and Aggregate Demand as Functions of Market Tightness with Prices as Parameters," 2013 Meeting Papers 1216, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Dany Brouillette & Olena Kostyshyna & Natalia Kyui, 2018. "Downward nominal wage rigidity in Canada: Evidence from micro-level data," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 51(3), pages 968-1002, August.
    10. Hahn, Joyce K. & Hyatt, Henry R. & Janicki, Hubert P., 2021. "Job ladders and growth in earnings, hours, and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    11. 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.
    12. Merkl, Christian & Stüber, Heiko, 2024. "Wage and employment cyclicalities at the establishment level," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 161(C).
    13. Hervé Le Bihan & Jérémi Montornès & Thomas Heckel, 2012. "Sticky Wages: Evidence from Quarterly Microeconomic Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 1-32, July.
    14. Susanto Basu & Christopher L. House, 2016. "Allocative and Remitted Wages: New Facts and Challenges for Keynesian Models," NBER Working Papers 22279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Federico Di Pace & Matthias Hertweck, 2019. "Labor Market Frictions, Monetary Policy, and Durable Goods," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 32, pages 274-304, April.
    16. Effrosyni Adamopoulou & Ernesto Villanueva, 2020. "Wage determination and the bite of collective contracts in Italy and Spain: evidence from the metal working industry," Working Papers 2036, Banco de España.
    17. Smith, Jennifer C., 2002. "Pay Cuts And Morale : A Test Of Downward Nominal Rigidity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 649, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    18. Simon Jäger & Benjamin Schoefer & Samuel Young & Josef Zweimüller, 2020. "Wages and the Value of Nonemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 135(4), pages 1905-1963.
    19. Stanton, Christopher T. & Sandvik, Jason & Saouma, Richard & Seegert, Nathan, 2018. "Analyzing the Aftermath of a Compensation Reduction," CEPR Discussion Papers 13242, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Jan Babecký & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2010. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 884-910, December.

    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
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed019:153. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Christian Zimmermann (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.