Eden izmed zadnjih Policy Briefs Sveta ekonomskih svetovalcev predsednika Baracka Obame se je dotaknil izjemno občutljivega področja – trga dela. Natančneje, obravnaval je učinek monopsona na trgu dela. Standardna učbeniška ekonomija izhaja iz tega, da v osnovi popolno konkurenčen trg dela kvarita “monopol” ponudnikov dela (močni sindikati) in država s številnimi regulacijami (predvsem pa z minimalno plačo). Če bi grde sindikate zmarginalizirali in če minimalna plača ne bi bila več pomembna, bi se plače oblikovale na “pravi ravni” (kot bi se v primeru popolne konkurence).
No, ta Policy Brief (Labor Market Monopsony: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Responses) kaže, kaj dobimo, če se zgodi natanko to (da sindikati postanejo nepomembni in če realna minimalna plača od sredine 1960-ih do danes pade za četrtino). Dobimo to, da plače drastično realno zaostanejo za rastjo produktivnosti, da delež plač v razdelitvi BDP drastično pade in da se neenakost močno poveča (ker se povečajo zgolj plače zgornji četrtini zaposlenih).
In še več, ta Policy Brief pokaže, da je v ZDA situacija še hujša. Ne samo da so sindikati in minimalna plača nepomembni, pač pa je moč delodajalcev daleč od benigne (kot v prosti konkurenci). Dejansko imajo ključno moč na trgu dela delodajalci (monopson), kar pomeni, da imajo močan vpliv na zadrževanje rasti plač. In bolj kot se povečuje koncentracija na proizvodnih trgih (bolj kot se večajo tržni deleži največjih podjetij), večja postaja monopsona moč delodajalcev in hujše so posledice za trg dela in neenakost. (*)
Spodaj je kratek povzetek ključnih ugotovitev navedenega Policy Briefa:
One such way is a monopsony. While monopolies are sellers, monopsonies are buyers. And as monopolies have power over the prices of the products they sell to the market, monopsonies have power over the price they pay for the products and services they buy from the market. The case against the tech companies claimed that they acted as monopsonies in the labor market—the biggest market they face as buyers.
Monopsonies, specifically monopsonies in the labor market, are the focus of an October 2016 issued brief, titled “Labor Market Monopsony: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Responses,” issued by the three-member White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
The issue brief contains a chart that shows that labor share of income decreased from about 65 percent in the 1940s and 1950s to about 58 percent in 2016. The sharpest decline occurred since the turn of the century.
But this chart hides a deeper issue: the rise in income inequality. “Over the past several decades,” the brief says, “only the highest earners have seen steady wage gains; for most workers, wage growth has been sluggish and has failed to keep pace with gains in productivity.”
Under perfect competition in labor markets, employers and employees are all price takers–in this case, wage takers. When wages fall behind rises in productivity—the phenomenon the issue brief points to—this is one sign that could point to wage-setting power by employers.
The brief points to other evidence on labor market monopsony. One is collusion cases that were tried; the two most notable examples being the cases against hospitals in Arizona and Michigan and the case against the Silicon Valley giants.
Another type of evidence on labor market monopsony is the extensive use of non-compete clauses in employee contracts, even though in many cases the employees have no possession of trade secrets and in some cases such clauses are unenforceable. The brief cites a survey that has evidence that suggests that as much as 18 percent of the total labor force is covered by non-compete clauses. The issue brief also says that the minimal effect of minimum wages on employment levels suggests that firms have wage-setting powers and points to discrimination, especially against women, as evidence. The brief also states that rising concentration in the product market may lead to wage-setting powers.
Employer-sponsored health benefits tie employees to specific employers (“Job Lock”), mainly because insurers in new workplaces may demand higher premiums for pre-existing conditions or refuse to insure altogether. This also improves employers’ abilities to set wages.
Some measures have already been taken to address these issues, such as a DOJ and FTC campaign to educate HR professionals on what constitutes collusion, how to spot it, and how to report it. And, of course, the Affordable Care Act, which provides new options for individuals who may not have access to employer-sponsored insurance to buy coverage and requires insurers to accept applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Two of the most efficient tools to fighting labor market monopsonies are setting minimum wages and encouraging collective bargaining. According to data cited in the issue brief, since 1968, the real value of the federal minimum wage has fallen 24 percent, hurting mostly those employees who have the least options. While in 1955 about a quarter of employees were members of unions, the current rate is 10 percent (7 percent in the private sector). The issue brief points to research that suggests that declining unionization accounts for between a fifth and a third of the increase in inequality since the 1970s.
In fact, the issue brief finds signs that wage-setting by employers is rising, mainly because of increased product-market concentration and what seems like a decrease in labor market dynamism—the degree of worker migration between different employers.
Vir: Guy Rolnik, ProMarket
* Navedeno seveda velja za ZDA in še kakšno državo s podobno liberaliziranim trgom dela (V. Britanija, Kitajska in ostale azijske države). V Sloveniji so sindikati močni, minimalna plača pa relativno (glede na povprečno) najvišja v EU. Tudi zato je pri nas neenakost tako nizka.