Polygon Created with Sketch. Home |

Locked in? The enforceability of covenants not to compete and the careers of high-tech workers

We examine how the enforceability of covenants not to compete (CNCs) affects employee mobility and wages of high-tech workers. We expect CNC enforceability to lengthen job spells and constrain mobility, but its impact on wages is ambiguous. Using a matched employer employee dataset covering the universe of jobs in thirty U.S states, we find that higher CNC enforceability is associated with longer job spells (fewer jobs over time), and a greater chance of leaving the state for technology workers. Consistent with a “lock-in” effect of CNCs, we find persistent wage-suppressing effects that last throughout a worker’s job and employment history.