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The role of worker flows in the dynamics and distribution of UK unemployment

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  • Michael W. L. Elsby
  • Jennifer C. Smith
  • Jonathan Wadsworth

Abstract

Unemployment varies substantially over time and across sub-groups of the labour market. Worker flows among labour-market states act as key determinants of this variation. We examine how the structure of unemployment across groups and its cyclical movements across time are shaped by changes in labour-market flows. Using novel estimates of flow transition rates for the UK over the last 35 years, we decompose unemployment variation into parts accounted for by changes in rates of job loss, job-finding, and flows via non-participation. Close to two-thirds of the volatility of unemployment in the UK over this period can be traced to rises in rates of job loss that accompany recessions. The share of this inflow contribution has been broadly the same in each of the past three recessions. Decreased job-finding rates account for around one-quarter of unemployment cyclicality and the remaining variation can be attributed to flows via non-participation. Digging deeper into the structure of unemployment by gender, age, and education, the flow approach is shown to provide a richer understanding of the unemployment experiences across population sub-groups. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 27 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 338-363

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:27:y:2011:i:2:p:338-363

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Web page: http://oxrep.oupjournals.org/

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  1. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2011. "Unemployment Dynamics in the OECD," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-159/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Smith, Jennifer, 2010. "The Ins and Outs of UK Unemployment," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 944, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. George L. Perry, 1972. "Unemployment Flows in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(2), pages 245-292.
  4. Gomes, Pedro Maia, 2010. "Labour Market Flows: Facts from the United Kingdom," IZA Discussion Papers 5327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
  6. Gary Solon & Ryan Michaels & Michael W. L. Elsby, 2009. "The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 84-110, January.
  7. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  8. Gregg, Paul & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 1995. "A Short History of Labour Turnover, Job Tenure, and Job Security, 1975-93," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 73-90, Spring.
  9. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2007. "The cyclicality of separation and job finding rates," Working Papers 07-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael W.L. Elsby & Jennifer C. Smith, 2010. "The Great Recession In The Uk Labour Market: A Transatlantic Perspective," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 214(1), pages R26-R37, October.
  12. Simon Burgess & Hélène Turon, 2005. "Unemployment dynamics in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 423-448, 04.
  13. Peter J. Kuhn (ed.), 2002. "Losing Work, Moving On: International Perspectives on Worker Displacement," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lwmo.
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Blog mentions

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  1. "Strivers" vs "scroungers": a false dichotomy
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-12-11 14:50:45
  2. Recovery for whom?
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-09-16 13:50:18
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Cited by:
  1. Jennifer C. Smith, 2011. "The Ins and Outs of UK Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 402-444, 05.
  2. Nordmeier, Daniela, 2012. "Worker flows in Germany: Inspecting the time aggregation bias," IAB Discussion Paper 201212, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  3. Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, François & Sopraseuth, Thepthida, 2014. "Why is Old Workers' Labor Market More Volatile? Unemployment Fluctuations over the Life-Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 8076, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Bonthuis, Boele & Jarvis, Valerie & Vanhala, Juuso, 2013. "What’s going on behind the euro area Beveridge curve(s)?," Working Paper Series 1586, European Central Bank.
  5. Ieva Brauksa & Ludmila Fadejeva, 2013. "Internal Labour Market Mobility in 2005-2011: The Case of Latvia," Working Papers 2013/02, Latvijas Banka.
  6. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00972291 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Marianna Kudlyak & Felipe Schwartzman, 2012. "Accounting for unemployment in the Great Recession : nonparticipation matters," Working Paper 12-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  8. Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Iga Magda, 2013. "Decomposition of trends in youth unemployment – the role of job accessions and separations in countries with different employment protection regimes," Working Papers 53, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
  9. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegül Sahin, 2013. "On the importance of the participation margin for market fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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