Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Men's Earnings: Explaining Differences in Trajectory

Why do some workers enjoy rising incomes over their career while other workers can't seem to make any gains? That question was posed by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They examined W-2s and self-employment income of men at ages 25 and again at 55 to see how their earnings grew over the decades. For the median worker, real annual earnings grew 60 percent. But workers below the 20th percentile in earnings had lower earnings at age 55 than they did at age 25. Meanwhile, those in the top 1 percent saw their earnings increase by a factor of 27.

The researchers found several differences in the labor force experience of low- and high-income workers that could affect the earning trajectory of men over their career...
  • low-income workers lose their jobs more frequently
  • low-income workers have longer spells of unemployment
  • low-income workers are less likely to be contacted about alternative job opportunities 
Although high-income workers receive more alternative job offers than low-income workers, they are less likely than low-income workers to switch jobs. "Even though high earners are solicited more often, these solicitations do not always translate into job-to-job switches," say the researchers. "In fact, top income earners are much less likely to switch jobs. While we do not know the particular reason for this behavior, it can be the result of either the earner already having a high-paying job or the current employer responding to the risk of losing its worker."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, Job Ladders and Careers

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