This paper is part of a forthcoming Hamilton Project book, "Revitalizing Wage Growth: Policies to Get American Workers a Raise," which will be released at a policy forum on February 28, 2018.
Wages have stagnated in recent decades for typical workers. While a number of economic, policy, and technological developments bear some responsibility, economists have grown increasingly concerned that declining dynamism is an important cause. The decline in dynamism encompasses the various ways in which workers and entrepreneurs have become less likely to explore new patterns of economic activity: starting new, fast-growing businesses; switching jobs; and moving across the country. As these activities diminish, both productivity growth and worker bargaining power suffer, limiting workers’ opportunities and damaging wage growth. Improving the ability of workers to switch jobs could thus improve both their wages and their productivity. Declining dynamism may suggest a role for public policy in establishing the conditions for workers to successfully climb the job ladder.