NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Large Modern Retailers Pay Premium Wages?

Brianna Cardiff-Hicks, Francine Lafontaine, Kathryn Shaw

NBER Working Paper No. 20313
Issued in July 2014, Revised in November 2014
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

With malls, franchise strips and big-box retailers increasingly dotting the landscape, there is concern that middle-class jobs in manufacturing in the U.S. are being replaced by minimum wage jobs in retail. Retail jobs have spread, while manufacturing jobs have shrunk in number. In this paper, we characterize the wages that have accompanied the growth in retail. We show that wage rates in the retail sector rise markedly with firm size and with establishment size. These increases are halved when we control for worker fixed effects, suggesting that there is sorting of better workers into larger firms. Also, higher ability workers get promoted to the position of manager, which is associated with higher pay. We conclude that the growth in modern retail, characterized by larger chains of larger establishments with more levels of hierarchy, is raising wage rates relative to traditional mom-and-pop retail stores.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20313

Published: Brianna Cardiff-Hicks & Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn Shaw, 2015. "Do Large Modern Retailers Pay Premium Wages?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 68(3), pages 633-665, May. citation courtesy of

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