August 2021

What Can We Learn from Idiosyncratic Wage Changes?

Cynthia L. Doniger

Abstract:

I document six facts about wage changes. First, most pay revisions occur at yearly frequency, but a small proportion occur at idiosyncratic times. Second, idiosyncratic pay changes are larger and more dispersed than year-end pay changes and resemble more pay changes occurring at job-to-job transitions. Third, idiosyncratic pay changes are more common for workers with less experience and, fourth, in firms higher on the job-ladder. Fifth, industries in which the incidence of idiosyncratic raises have risen have experienced greater declines in labor share. Sixth, industries in which more firms report willingness to negotiate wages have greater concentrations of idiosyncratic revisions. An on-the-job search model with heterogeneous wage contracts can rationalize these facts.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2021.055

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: August 12, 2021