Wage progression of less skilled workers in Canada : evidence from the SLID (1993-1998) / by Xuelin Zhang Zhang, Xuelin

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Zhang, Xuelin
Unskilled labor - Employment - Canada - Statistics.; Wages - Unskilled labor - Canada - Statistics.
The wage progression of less skilled workers is of particular policy interest in light of evidence of skill-biased technology changes. There exist two conflicting views regarding the wage progression of less skilled workers. One view believes that work experience is the driving force for wage growth of less skilled workers, so effective policies should encourage workers to participate in the labour market and accumulate work experience. The other view stresses that less skilled workers are usually locked into dead-end jobs in which wages are stagnant and policies that facilitate job shopping (changing jobs and employers) would be desirable. Job tenure is a key factor in testing the hypothesis that less skilled workers are locked into dead-end jobs. If the return to tenure is zero, the hypothesis cannot be rejected. An extended human capital model of wage growth for less skilled workers is estimated using data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) 1993 to 1998. In order to compare the wage growth mechanisms for workers with different skill endowments, the model is also estimated for workers with higher skill levels. The result implies that the return to job tenure for less skilled workers is significantly different from zero. This is inconsistent with the view that less skilled workers are locked into dead-end jobs. The return to job tenure is also found to be greater than the return to total labour market experience for less skilled workers. This finding supports the notion that firm-specific human capital acquired by less skilled workers substitutes for their generally low human capital endowments and the accumulation of firm-specific human capital by less skilled workers greatly improves their earnings prospect.
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