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Some Facts about Concentrated Labor Markets in the United States

Elizabeth Weber Handwerker and Matthew Dey


We use the detailed microdata of the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) mapped onto near-universe data on civilian employment in the United States to estimate employer concentration by occupation for nearly all workers in the United States, in all sectors, all occupations, and all geographic areas, from 2003 to 2018. Major findings include (1) concentration is a characteristic of small labor markets, whether defined by area or by occupation; (2) patterns of concentrated employment are different from patterns of employment in very large employers, with overlap largely in the public sector; (3) the public sector and the hospital industry play very prominent roles in concentrated employment; (4) more concentrated labor markets are associated with slightly lower wages, but only within the private sector; (5) there is enormous variation between occupations in concentration levels, concentration trends, and wage associations with concentration.