Journal Article

Educational attainment, unemployment, and wage inflation

Abstract: We investigate the impact of rising educational attainment on wage inflation and the equilibrium (non-inflationary) rate of unemployment. Rising educational attainment may reduce wage pressures by shifting the composition of the labor force towards groups with lower equilibrium unemployment rates, or it may increase wage pressures through increased reliance on groups whose wages are relatively responsive to changes in unemployment. A measure of aggregate unemployment adjusted for changes in the age and education structure of the labor force performs well in Phillips curve estimates of the wage inflation process but does not substantially improve the ability to forecast wages or materially alter the estimates of the equilibrium unemployment rate. We also estimate models of wage inflation that are disaggregated by educational attainment and find that college-educated workers face a sharper trade-off between labor market tightness and wage growth than do other groups. We find that forecasts of wage inflation derived from the disaggregated relationships perform better than those from aggregate wage equations.

Keywords: Education; Wages;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Part of Series: Economic Review

Publication Date: 2007

Pages: 49-61