如何解释工资滞后之谜

本文选自彼得森国际经济研究所(PIIE),作者Robert Z. Lawrence是PIIE高级研究员。

自1970年以来,尽管美国工人的人均产出迅速增长,但他们的实际工资已经出现停滞。1970年以后,当每小时实际产出与实际平均小时工资形成鲜明对比时,劳动生产率与实际工资之间的脱节最为显著:如图1所示,就在实际平均时薪停滞不前的同时,商业部门每小时的产出却以每年2%的速度飞速增长。

《纽约时报》专栏作家Eduardo Porter近期在一篇文章中表示,这种差距已经存在并发展了数十年,它不仅限于美国,同样也存在于众多其他国家,他推测造成这种现象的主要原因在于自动化和“严酷的新型全球经济”。

然而,当以更加全面的角度来衡量这些数据时,工资滞后之谜就消失了,至少在1970-2000年情况是这样的:工资被广泛定义为包括福利在内的报酬,可比价格指数被用于计算工资和产出增长之间的差值(以定值美元表示),产出经过净折旧调整。根据数据,1970至2000年期间,甚至到2008年,所有工人以定值美元表示的劳动报酬实际上与产出保持同步增长,这意味着要想解释长期工资增长缓慢停滞的原因,关键是要理解生产率增长,而非劳资双方之间收入分配驱动因素。如果说美国经济存在导致工人无法随经济增长而保持产出当中所占份额的问题,那么这种现象是近期才出现的。

首先,生产和非管理人员并不构成美国全部劳动力,通过包括所有工人在内的更广范围的测算,图2显示了更多的实际工资增长结果——其中,技术水平和受教育程度更高的工人工资增速明显快于教育程度较低的蓝领工人。

第二,企业支付给工人的多于工人的实得时薪。他们的报酬里面还包括医保和社保等福利,而这些福利增速比工资增速快。将全部福利待遇纳入到考虑范围当中,计算得出的实际小时工资是衡量实际收益的一种更加完善的方法。尤其是20世纪90年代中期前,每名工人的实际平均薪酬增速明显快于实际工资增速。

第三个问题:估测实际产出和实际小时工资采用的定价措施不同。“实际工资”随工人“实际产出”同步增长的预期,反映出工人工资能购买他们生产的商品或服务,或产出和消费价格将同速增长这种假设。但这种假设是存在缺陷的,工人生产出来的商品和服务组合——体现在用于衡量人均实际产出的商业部门平减物价指数当中——与体现在消费者价格指数当中的商品和服务组合不同。尤其是,机械产品等投资商品价格增速缓慢,在商业部门平减物价指数当中突显;与此同时,房屋价格等项目增长迅速,在消费者价格指数当中突显。实际上,由于商业部门平减指数增速较消费者价格指数缓慢,因此,如果我们通过商业部门平减指数降低名义小时工资增长速度,旨在估测如果工人实际购买自身所产商品和服务(这种测量方法有时被称为实际产品报酬),将会发生什么情况——我们发现,小时工资实际以每年1.7%的年增长率增长(见图4)。

实际产品报酬测量结果显示,1970年至2000年间,工人购买自身所产商品和服务的数量有所增加,增速与每名工人产出增速相同。这意味着劳动力在收入当中所占比例份额下降情况2000年才开始出现。

第四,通常衡量生产率时,往往是使用总产量,这个变量就包括资本消费在内。尤其是近年来,短期资本的使用提高了总产量当中的折旧份额;由于将折旧纳入到考虑范围当中,因此,单位小时净产出是一种更加完善的生产率衡量方法。自1970年以来,单位小时净产出年增幅为1.8%,某种程度上慢于单位小时的总产量增速(2.0%)。将实际产品报酬与单位小时净产出进行对比,我们能够发现:生产率与劳动力报酬之间的关系与衡量收入份额有关。

图5显示的是单位小时净产出和每小时实际产品报酬,以及它们推动劳动力在净收入当中比例份额的区别(蓝线)。1970-2003 年间,每小时实际产出报酬的增长与每名工人每小时实际净产出的增长相符,因此,2003年,支付给劳动力的净薪酬比例与1970年相同。如果每小时平均净产出增长能够更好地测量劳动边际产量,那么在33年里,数据与工人实际工资增速与边际产品增速相同的假设情况相符。由于劳动力收入份额在商业周期当中波动变化,而且出于周期循环原因,这一比例在2000年达到最高,因此,当劳动力在收入当中比例份额开始下降时,我们对于准确日期的记录并无过多信心。但可以明确的是,自2008年以来,劳动力比例份额达到罕见低水平,同时,处于各技术水平阶层的工人实际工资和薪酬增速缓慢。

从长远来看,即自1970年至2000年,实际工资缓慢增长的解释原因可能不在于弱化劳动力议价能力方面,而是在于工人消费和产出的商品与服务相对价格的变化调整方面。尤其是,考虑提高中产阶级收入政策时,我们应该关心(a)工人消费商品与服务的相对价格的提高,如住房和教育;(b)以医保为例的福利成本上涨,和(c)与投资商品领域迅速增长的生产率相比,服务生产率缓慢增长。2000年以来,劳动力比例份额下降(利润比例份额上涨)确实为进一步解释提供保证(在近期工作文件当中,我提出这种不断扩大的差距反映出一种特殊的技术变化类型),但在这之前,每名工人的“实际”产出与“实际”工资之间过于简单的对比很有可能导致分析人员得出错误结论。

译者:上海金融与法律研究院

《思想库报告》是上海金融与法律研究院(SIFL)出品的一份公益性电子刊物,以国际智库之思想,关照中国改革之现实。本刊与国际知名智库彼得森国际经济研究所(PIIE)、传统基金会(Heritage Foundation)、加图研究所(Cato Institute)、卡内基国际和平基金会以及Foreign Affairs建立了版权关系,并进行长期合作。

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