Women and the Phillips Curve: Do Women’s and Men’s Labor Market Outcomes Differentially Affect Real Wage Growth and Inflation?
During the economic expansion of the 1990s, the United States enjoyed both low inflation rates and low levels of unemployment. Juhn, Murphy, and Topel (2002) point out that the low unemployment rates for men in the 1990s were accompanied by historically high rates of non-employment suggesting that the 1990s economy was not as strong as the unemployment rate might indicate. We include women in the analysis and examine whether the Phillips curve relationships between real compensation growth, changes in inflation, and labor market slackness are the same for men and women and whether measures of “non-employment” better capture underlying economic activity, as suggested by Juhn, Murphy, and Topel’s analysis. From 1965 to 2002 the increase in women’s labor force participation more than offsets the decline for men, and low unemployment rates in the 1990s were accompanied by historically low overall nonemployment rates. We find that women’s measures of labor market slackness do as well as men’s in explaining real compensation growth and changes in inflation after 1983. We also find some evidence that non-employment rates are more closely related to changes in inflation than other measures of labor market slackness; however, we do not find the same for real compensation growth.