Monetary and Economic Studies Vol.23, No.2 / May 2005

Wage Fluctuations in Japan after the Bursting of the Bubble Economy: Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity, Payroll, and the Unemployment Rate

Sachiko Kuroda, Isamu Yamamoto

In this paper, we investigate the existence and persistence of downward nominal wage rigidity (DNWR) for full-time employees based on the wage fluctuations observed in Japan following the bursting of the bubble economy of the early 1990s. We also examine the extent to which DNWR has boosted firms' real payroll adjusted for labor productivity. We then estimate a version of the Phillips curve with DNWR to measure the impact of DNWR on Japan's unemployment rate. We summarize the results of this paper as follows. First, DNWR measured by the total annual earnings of full-time employees in Japan was observed from 1992 to 1997, but disappeared after 1998. Second, DNWR observed from 1992 to 1997 seemed to have raised firms' real payroll adjusted for labor productivity during a period in which both inflation and labor productivity growth were low. Third, our estimation results suggest that DNWR from 1992 to 1997 raised the unemployment rate by approximately 1 percentage point at the most, although it may overstate the effect of DNWR on unemployment.

Keywords: Downward nominal wage rigidity; Inflation rate; Unemployment rate; Labor productivity; Phillips curve; Monetary policy

Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank of Japan or Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies.

Copyright © 2005 Bank of Japan All Rights Reserved.

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