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Accounting for unemployment: the long and short of it

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  • Andreas Hornstein

Abstract

Shimer (2012) accounts for the volatility of unemployment based on a model of homogeneous unemployment. Using data on short-term unemployment he finds that most of unemployment volatility is accounted for by variations in the exit rate from unemployment. The assumption of homogeneous exit rates is inconsistent with the observed negative duration dependence of unemployment exit rates for the U.S. labor market. We construct a simple model of heterogeneous unemployment with short-term and long-term unemployed, and use data on the duration distribution of unemployment to account for entry to and exit from the unemployment pool. This alternative account continues to attribute most of unemployment volatility to variations in exit rates from unemployment, but it also suggests that most of unemployment volatility is due to the volatility of long-term unemployment rather than short-term unemployment. We also show that once one allows for heterogeneous unemployment, the expected value of income losses from unemployment increases substantially, and unemployment volatility implied by a simple matching model increases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 12-07.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:12-07

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Keywords: Business cycles ; Labor market ; Unemployment ; Economic growth;

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  1. Abbring, J.H. & Berg, G. van den & Ours, J.C. van, 2002. "The anatomy of unemployment dynamics," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91479, Tilburg University.
  2. Michael R. Darby & John C. Haltiwanger & Mark W. Plant, 1985. "Unemployment-Rate Dynamics and Persistent Unemployment Under Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 1558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1999. "Measuring Business Cycles: Approximate Band-Pass Filters For Economic Time Series," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 575-593, November.
  4. Robert Shimer, 2012. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 127-148, April.
  5. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
  6. van den Berg, Gerard J. & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2001. "Combining micro and macro unemployment duration data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 271-309, June.
  7. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  8. Michael W. L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Ayşegül Şahin, 2013. "Unemployment Dynamics in the OECD," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 530-548, May.
  9. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegül Sahin & Robert G. Valletta, 2011. "The labor market in the Great Recession: an update," Working Paper Series 2011-29, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. 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.
  11. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2007. "The cyclicality of separation and job finding rates," Working Papers 07-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  12. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  13. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  14. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Reporting Errors and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1319-38, November.
  15. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder & Shani Schechter, 2010. "What is behind the rise in long-term unemployment?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 28-51.
  16. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin & Robert G. Valletta, 2011. "The Labor Market in the Great Recession: An Update," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-173/3, Tinbergen Institute.
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