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A Search and Matching Approach to Labor Markets: Did the Natural Rate of Unemployment Rise?

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  • Mary C. Daly
  • Bart Hobijn
  • Aysegül Sahin
  • Robert G. Valletta

Abstract

The U.S. unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high since the 2007-2009 recession, leading some observers to conclude that structural rather than cyclical factors are to blame. Relying on a standard job search and matching framework and empirical evidence from a wide array of labor market indicators, we examine whether the natural rate of unemployment has increased since the recession began, and if so, whether the underlying causes are transitory or persistent. Our preferred estimate indicates an increase in the natural rate of unemployment of about one percentage point during the recession and its immediate aftermath, putting the current natural rate at around 6 percent. An assessment of the underlying factors responsible for this increase, including labor market mismatch, extended unemployment benefits, and uncertainty about overall economic conditions, implies that only a small fraction is likely to be persistent.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 3-26

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:3-26

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.3.3
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  1. Michael Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2008. "Unemployment Dynamics in the OECD," NBER Working Papers 14617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Card, David & Levine, Phillip B., 2000. "Extended benefits and the duration of UI spells: evidence from the New Jersey extended benefit program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 107-138, October.
  3. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678.
  4. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, December.
  5. Oscar Jorda & Moritz Schularick & Alan Taylor, 2012. "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles and Crises," Working Papers 1224, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. Darby, Michael R & Haltiwanger, John C & Plant, Mark W, 1985. "Unemployment Rate Dynamics and Persistent Unemployment under Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 614-37, September.
  7. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John C. Haltiwanger, 2009. "The establishment-level behavior of vacancies and hiring," Working Papers 09-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  8. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
  9. Melissa Bjelland & Bruce Fallick & John Haltiwanger & Erika McEntarfer, 2008. "Employer-to-Employer Flows in the United States: Estimates Using Linked Employer-Employee Data," NBER Working Papers 13867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael R. Darby & John C. Haltiwanger & Mark W. Plant, 1986. "The Ins and Outs of Unemployment: The Ins Win," UCLA Economics Working Papers 411, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  12. Barnichon, Regis, 2010. "Building a composite Help-Wanted Index," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 175-178, December.
  13. Vincent Sterk, 2010. "Home Equity, Mobility, and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," DNB Working Papers 265, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
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  1. Monetary or fiscal stimulus can help only if unemployment is cyclical; otherwise, if unemployment is structural expansionary policies will lead only to inflation. Careful recent analyses indicate that unemployment is mainly cyclical in the US
    by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2012-10-24 16:00:33
  2. Given the enormity of the short- and long-run fiscal challenges facing the US, the lack of policy detail from both presidential candidates is disappointing
    by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2012-10-25 13:00:36
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