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Monopsony in the U.S. Labor Market

Author

Listed:
  • Chen Yeh

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

  • Claudia Macaluso

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

  • Brah J. Hershbein

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

Abstract

This paper quantifies the extent to which the U.S. manufacturing labor market is characterized by employer market power and how such market power has changed over time. We find that the vast majority of U.S. manufacturing plants operate in a monopsonistic environment and, at least since the early 2000s, the labor market in U.S. manufacturing has become more monopsonistic. To reach this conclusion, we exploit rich administrative data for U.S. manufacturers and estimate plant-level markdowns—the ratio between a plant’s marginal revenue product of labor and its wage. In a competitive labor market, markdowns would be equal to unity. Instead, we find substantial deviations from perfect competition, as markdowns average 1.53. This result implies that a worker employed at the average manufacturing plant earns 65 cents on each dollar generated on the margin. To investigate long-term trends in employer market power, we propose a novel measure for the aggregate markdown that is consistent with aggregate wedges and also incorporates the local nature of labor markets. We find that the aggregate markdown decreased between the late 1970s and the early 2000s, but has been sharply increasing since.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen Yeh & Claudia Macaluso & Brah J. Hershbein, 2022. "Monopsony in the U.S. Labor Market," Upjohn Working Papers 22-364, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:22-364
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    7. Shubhdeep Deb & Jan Eeckhout & Aseem Patel & Lawrence Warren, 2022. "Market Power And Wage Inequality," Working Papers 22-37, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. Kosuke Aoki & Yoshihiko Hogen & Kosuke Takatomi, 2023. "Price Markups and Wage Setting Behavior of Japanese Firms," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 23-E-5, Bank of Japan.
    9. Gibson, Matthew, 2021. "Employer Market Power in Silicon Valley," IZA Discussion Papers 14843, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Mihoko Shimamoto, 2023. "Normative Corporate Income Tax with Rent for SDGs’ Funding: Case of the U.S," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(4), pages 1-18, February.
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    12. Erik Hurst & Patrick J. Kehoe & Elena Pastorino & Thomas Winberry, 2022. "The Distributional Impact of the Minimum Wage in the Short and Long Run," NBER Working Papers 30294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Casacuberta, Carlos & Gandelman, Néstor, 2023. "Wage councils, product markups and wage markdowns: Evidence from Uruguay," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    14. Yoshihiko Hogen & Yojiro Ito & Kenji Kanai & Naoya Kishi, 2024. "Changes in the Global Economic Landscape and Issues for Japan's Economy," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 24-E-3, Bank of Japan.
    15. Shubhdeep Deb & Jan Eeckhout & Aseem Patel & Lawrence Warren, 2022. "What Drives Stagnation: Monopsony or Monopoly?," Working Papers 22-45, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    16. David Autor & Christina Patterson & John Van Reenen, 2023. "Local and national concentration trends in jobs and sales: the role of structural transformation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1916, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    17. David Card & Jesse Rothstein & Moises Yi, 2023. "Industry Wage Differentials: A Firm-Based Approach," NBER Working Papers 31588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Kali, Raja & Liu, Andrew Yizhou, 2024. "Labor market power and worker turnover," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    19. KIKUCHI Shinnosuke, 2024. "Trends in National and Local Market Concentration in Japan: 1980-2020," Discussion papers 24049, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    20. Ichiro Fukunaga & Kakuho Furukawa & Shunsuke Haba & Yoshihiko Hogen & Yosuke Kido & Tomohiro Okubo & Kotaro Suita & Kosuke Takatomi, 2023. "Wage Developments in Japan: Four Key Issues for the Post-COVID-19 Wage Growth," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 23-E-4, Bank of Japan.
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    22. Thomas Hasenzagl & Luis Perez, 2023. "The Micro-Aggregated Profit Share," Papers 2309.12945, arXiv.org, revised Nov 2023.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monopsony; labor market power; markdowns; secular trends;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets

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