Evan Starr
University of Maryland

Noncompetes in the U.S. Labor Force

Posted in: Seminar
Friday Apr, 21st 2017 03:30 pm 302 Sirrine
As typically unobserved features of the employment relationship, the role that covenants not to compete play in shaping economic dynamics is intrinsically difficult to grasp. Using nationally representative survey data on 11,505 labor force participants, we characterize the use of noncompetes by employer and employee characteristics and document the labor market effects with which they are associated. We find that noncompetes are more likely to be found in high skill, high paying occupations, but that they are also prevalent in low skill, low paying occupations. We document that negotiation over noncompetes is rare and that firms regularly delay the offering of the noncompete until after the employee has accepted the job. In the cross-section, noncompetes are associated with both increased retention and redirection from competitors, as well as a greater likelihood of receiving training and higher wages. We find little role for the enforceability of the noncompete both in determining where noncompetes are used and the strength of the relationship between a noncompete and labor market outcomes.