Um excelente post de Miguel Lebre de Freitas no The Portuguese Economy: The Real Wage Gap once again. (Uma curiosidade: os dois posts iniciais do autor – já em 2011, aqui e aqui – moldaram em grande medida a análise de Custos Unitários do Trabalho feita neste blogue).
1 – The claim that real wages have departed significantly above productivity does not match the national accounts data. In the case of manufactures, the maximum observed real wage gap amounted to 4.6%, during the 2009′ collapse of international trade, to recover one year after.
2 – In general the data supports the narrative that aggregate demand effects, rather than nominal wage stickiness explain the pre-2008 external imbalance: during the capital inflow episode, prices of non-tradable goods increased, pressing nominal wages up. This forced average productivity in manufactures to increase, in some cases with technological change, but mostly through the shutting down of low productivity firms, while labour was reallocated to low-productivity-growth non-tradable good sectors.
3 – The preliminary data for the bailout episode suggests that real wages have been evolving below productivity, not the other way around. By 2011, this trend was more evident in transportation and storage, financial services, and energy supply
4 – The preliminary data for 2012 also points to the case that real wages in manufactures fell short the productivity trend by some 4.6%. This suggests a scope for entrepreneurs to raise profits by hiring more workers. However, there are reasons to believe that in the current juncture, other factors apart from labour costs are constraining the entrepreneurs’ choices. This will be the subject of my next post.