by Michael R. Strain
American Enterprise Institute
April 02, 2013
Working Paper Series
The instability of labor earnings in the United States contributes to earnings inequality and may diminish household welfare. Despite the importance of earnings instability little is known about its correlates or causes. This paper seeks to better understand earnings instability by studying whether volatile firms pay volatile earnings. I am the first to directly test the relationship between earnings instability and firm employment instability using linked employer-employee data. I find a positive and statistically significant relationship between the two that remains when the effect is estimated using only within-firm variation. This suggests that the effect is a feature of the way workers are being paid by their employer.



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