Rigidity in wages has long been thought to impede the functioning of labor markets. In this paper, we investigate the extent of downward nominal wage rigidity in US labor markets using job-level data from a nationally representative establishment-based compensation survey collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We use several distinct methods to test for downward nominal wage rigidity and to assess whether such rigidity is less or more severe in the presence of negative economic shocks than in more normal economic times. We find a significant amount of downward nominal wage rigidity in the United States and no evidence that the high degree of labor market distress during the Great Recession reduced downward nominal wage rigidity. We further find a lower degree of nominal rigidity at multi-year horizons.
We use establishment-level data from a nationally representative establishment-based compensation survey collected by the BLS to investigate the extent to which downward nominal wage rigidity is present in US labor markets.
Since 2007, the labor force participation rate has fallen from about 66 percent to about 63 percent. The sources of this decline have been widely debated among academics and policymakers, with some arguing that the participation rate is depressed due to weak labor demand while others argue that the decline was inevitable due to structural forces such as the aging of the population. In this paper, we use a variety of approaches to assess reasons for the decline in participation. Although these approaches yield somewhat different estimates of the extent to which the recent decline in participation reflects cyclical weakness rather than structural factors, our overall assessment is that much—but not all—of the decline in the labor force participation rate since 2007 is structural in nature. As a result, while we see some of the current low level of the participation rate as indicative of labor market slack, we do not expect the participation rate to show a substantial increase from current levels as labor market conditions continue to improve.
This paper provides evidence on a wide set of margins along which labor markets can adjust in response to increases in the minimum wage, including wages, hours, employment, and ultimately labor income.