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The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment

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  • Gary Solon
  • Ryan Michaels
  • Michael W. L. Elsby

Abstract

A dominant trend in recent modeling of labor market fluctuations is to treat unemployment inflows as acyclical. This trend has been encouraged by recent influential papers that stress the role of longer unemployment spells, rather than more unemployment spells, in accounting for recessionary unemployment. After reviewing an empirical literature going back several decades, we apply a convenient log change decomposition to Current Population Survey data to characterize rising unemployment in each postwar recession. We conclude that a complete understanding of cyclical unemployment requires an explanation of countercyclical inflow rates, especially for job losers (layoffs), as well as procyclical outflow rates. (JEL E24, E32)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:84-110
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.1.1.84
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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