Strong Employers and Weak Employees: How Does Employer Concentration Affect Wages?
51 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2018
Date Written: February 2018
We analyze the effect of local-level labor market concentration on wages. Using Census data over the period 1977–2009, we find that: (1) local-level employer concentration exhibits substantial cross-sectional and time-series variation and increases over time; (2) consistent with labor market monopsony power, there is a negative relation between local-level employer concentration and wages that is more pronounced at high levels of concentration and increases over time; (3) the negative relation between labor market concentration and wages is stronger when unionization rates are low; (4) the link between productivity growth and wage growth is stronger when labor markets are less concentrated; and (5) exposure to greater import competition from China (the “China Shock”) is associated with more concentrated labor markets. These five results emphasize the role of local-level labor market monopsonies in influencing firm wage-setting behavior and can potentially explain some of the stagnation of wages in the United States over the past several decades.
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