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Why wages might be sticky downward

If a labor market model with flexible wages does not describe unemployment very well—because it predicts that anyone willing to work at the going wage can always find a job—then it may prove useful to consider economic models in which wages are not flexible or adjust only very slowly. In particular, even though wage increases may occur with relative ease, wage decreases are few and far between.

One set of reasons why wages may be “sticky downward,” as economists put it, involves economic laws and institutions. For low-skilled workers being paid the minimum wage    , it is illegal to reduce their wages. For union workers operating under a multiyear contract with a company, wage cuts might violate the contract and create a labor dispute or a strike. However, minimum wages and union contracts are not a sufficient reason why wages would be sticky downward for the U.S. economy as a whole. After all, out of the 150 million or so workers in the U.S. economy, only about 1.4 million—less than 2% of the total—are paid the minimum wage. Similarly, only about 12% of American wage and salary workers are represented by a labor union. In other high-income countries, more workers may have their wages determined by unions or the minimum wage may be set at a level that applies to a larger share of workers. But for the United States, these two factors combined affect only about one-fifth or less of the labor force.

Economists looking for reasons why wages might be sticky downwards have focused on factors that may characterize most labor relationships in the economy, not just a few. A number of different theories have been proposed, but they share a common tone.

One argument is that even employees who are not union members often work under an implicit contract    , which is that the employer will try to keep wages from falling when the economy is weak or the business is having trouble, and the employee will not expect huge salary increases when the economy or the business is strong. This wage-setting behavior acts like a form of insurance: the employee has some protection against wage declines in bad times, but pays for that protection with lower wages in good times. Clearly, this sort of implicit contract means that firms will be hesitant to cut wages, lest workers feel betrayed and work less hard or even leave the firm.

Efficiency wage theory argues that the productivity of workers depends on their pay, and so employers will often find it worthwhile to pay their employees somewhat more than market conditions might dictate. One reason is that employees who are paid better than others will be more productive because they recognize that if they were to lose their current jobs, they would suffer a decline in salary. As a result, they are motivated to work harder and to stay with the current employer. In addition, employers know that it is costly and time-consuming to hire and train new employees, so they would prefer to pay workers a little extra now rather than to lose them and have to hire and train new workers. Thus, by avoiding wage cuts, the employer minimizes costs of training and hiring new workers, and reaps the benefits of well-motivated employees.

Questions & Answers

what is barter system
twinkel Reply
a system in which goods are exchanged for other goods
Barter system is said to be the process whereby goods are being exchange for goods
a system in which money have not play any role
goods and services are exchanged .. problem is finding equitable or agreeable value for the exchange of the goods or services.. I teach maths privately and love home made cake, I decided 4 home made cakes was worth an hour of private maths 😁
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accounts in balance of trade
Kamuyu Reply
What is fiscal policy and intrest rates
Attah Reply
fiscal policy is the use of govt. revenue collection and expenditure to influence the economy.
income and expenditure
Bittu Reply
Macro economics : it is the study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Rajat Reply
what is macro economics
Sarah Reply
it is study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Macro economics is the aggregate study of national income, investment, price level, changes in economic activities, GDP and economic inflation.
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what is comparative and superlative advantage? give an example
Xanaan Reply
Methods used to correct trade deficits?
David Reply
what is role capitalism unemployment?
Mafsuud Reply
being unemployment look job but not achieved their being out labor force is person can't work
being unemployment look job but not achieved their being out labor force is person can't work
themes studied in economics include?
Patrick Reply
Financial accounting GDP and GNP
Samson Reply
can u explain
this means that the demand curve have negative relationship with the price ..which means that when high price low demand of the product and vice versa so higher price will shirnk the demand of product
Ahsan Reply
Higher price level ∴Real value of household wealth increase ∴Net export decrease ∴More money needed, interest rate increase, investment decrease
net export decrease
a person has 60birr to buy two commodities,x and y the price of x is four birr unit the price of y is two birr unit his utility functio given by u=xy+2x determine the budget equation
Mohammed Reply
the budget equation will be- 60 birr= 4x+2y
What are the various reasons for the Federal Reserve to increase the fed rates?
What is unemployment
Mijash Reply
Unemployment is a term used to describe people who do not hold a paying job
what are the causes of unemployment
unemployment refer to the situation in which people searching job but they have no. it also refers in which marginal productivity in zero.
Causes of unemployment are: 1: Over Population 2: Break down of the family system 3: Rural/Urban Migration
unemployment simply means, in the situation where by people are looking for a job and their could achieve it.
unemployment is a situation where by one has the ability to work but is not given a job

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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