This is “The Labor Market”, section 16.1 from the book Theory and Applications of Macroeconomics (v. 1.0).
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. Additionally, per the publisher's request, their name has been removed in some passages. More information is available on this project's attribution page.
For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (29 MB) or just this chapter (3 MB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).
The labor market is the market in which labor services are traded. Individual labor supply comes from the choices of individuals or households about how to allocate their time. As the real wage (the nominal wage divided by the price level) increases, households supply more hours to the market, and more households decide to participate in the labor market. Thus the quantity of labor supplied increases. The labor supply curve of a household is shifted by changes in wealth. A wealthier household supplies less labor at a given real wage.
Labor demand comes from firms. As the real wage increases, the marginal cost of hiring more labor increases, so each firm demands fewer hours of labor input—that is, a firm’s labor demand curve is downward sloping. The labor demand curve of a firm is shifted by changes in productivity. If labor becomes more productive, then the labor demand curve of a firm shifts rightward: the quantity of labor demanded is higher at a given real wage.
The labor market equilibrium is shown in Figure 16.1 "Labor Market Equilibrium". The real wage and the equilibrium quantity of labor traded are determined by the intersection of labor supply and labor demand. At the equilibrium real wage, the quantity of labor supplied equals the quantity of labor demanded.
Figure 16.1 Labor Market Equilibrium