There's a lot going around the economics blogosphere about sticky wages. A great deal has been made of various graphs that show wages are sticky downward (but not upward). Here's one from George Selgin, a researcher whose work I greatly respect: http://www.freebanking.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/fredgraph3.png. The graph does, in fact, show that average hourly earnings in the private sector have steadily increased every month from 2005 to now.
Unfortunately, and like most aggregates, that's only part of the story. I looked at the change in average hourly earnings from April 2006 to June 2012 for the following sectors: Construction, Durable Goods, Education and Health, Financial, Good-Producing in general, Information, Leisure & Hospitality, Manufacturing, Mining and Logging, Nondurable Goods, Other Services, Private Services, Professional and Business Services, Retail Trade, Total Private, Transportation and Warehousing, Utilities, and Wholesale Trade. I have graphs for all these, and they generally show upward trades, although slopes differ across the industries.
What's more important for the argument regarding 'downward stickiness' or the reluctance of firms and employees to settle on a decrease in wages is the frequency we observe negative changes (decreases) in the average hourly earnings. You'd think from the 'sticky' arguers that we never see negative changes. This is wrong. In fact, wages do decrease, about 22% of the time (average across all industries). The industry with fewest wage decreases is Private Services (4% of all changes are negative), and the industry with the most is Utilities (40% of all changes are negative). The magnitude of decreases is -0.27% across all industries, while the magnitude of increases is 0.40% across all industries. The industry with lowest decreases is Private Services (-0.06%) and the industry with highest decreases is Mining and Logging (-0.82%).
My point is this: wages do not appear to be sticky. At least, the evidence isn't all in favor of stickiness. Viscous, maybe, but not sticky. Also, here are three graphs drawn from the extremes of my wage change distributions showing the relationship between employment and wages. The first is Private Services, then Mining and Logging, and then Utilities. I see upward trends post-recession of both employment and wages. Riddle me that Batman.
For a strong theoretical point as to why wages are NOT STICKY, see my former Prof and blogger extraordinaire David Andolfatto: http://andolfatto.blogspot.com/2010/07/sticky-price-hypothesis-critique.html