Job Queues and Wages: New Evidence on the Minimum Wage and Inter-Industry Wage Structure

Harry J. Holzer, Lawrence F. Katz, Alan B. Krueger

NBER Working Paper No. 2561
Issued in April 1988
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

This paper uses job applications- data to test the existence of non-competitive, ex-ante rents in the labor market. We first examine whether jobs that pay the legal minimum wage face an excessively of labor as measured by the number of job applications received for the most recent positions filled by the firs. The results indicate that openings for jobs that pay the minimum wage attract significantly more job applications than jobs that pay either more or less than the minimum wage. This spike in the job application rate distribution indicates that ex-ante rents generated for employees by an above market-level minimum wage do not appear to be completely dissipated by employer actions. The second part of the paper uses a similar approach to examine whether jobs in high-wage industries pay above market-clearing wage rates. We find a weak, positive relationship between inter-industry applications differentials and inter-industry wage differentials. In addition, our results indicate that employer size has a sizeable positive effect on the job application rate even after controlling for the wage rate. The paper considers several possible explanations for these findings.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2561

Published: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 106, August 1991, pp. 739-768.

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