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The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment

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

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)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 84-110

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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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