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

Listed author(s):
  • Mary C. Daly
  • Bart Hobijn
  • Aysegül Sahin
  • Robert G. Valletta

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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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.26.3.3
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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
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  1. 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.
  2. Melissa Bjelland & Bruce Fallick & John Haltiwanger & Erika McEntarfer, 2011. "Employer-to-Employer Flows in the United States: Estimates Using Linked Employer-Employee Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 493-505, October.
  3. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, January.
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  7. Joyce Kwok & Mary C. Daly & Bart Hobijn, 2010. "Labor force participation and the future path of unemployment," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue sep13.
  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. Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2011. "When credit bites back: leverage, business cycles, and crises," Working Paper Series 2011-27, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. Jesse Rothstein, 2011. "Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 143-213.
  11. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678-678.
  12. Sterk, Vincent, 2015. "Home equity, mobility, and macroeconomic fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 16-32.
  13. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John C. Haltiwanger, 2013. "The Establishment-Level Behavior of Vacancies and Hiring," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 581-622.
  14. Samuel Bentolila & Giuseppe Bertola, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402.
  15. 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.
  16. Mary C. Daly & Bart Hobijn & Robert G. Valletta, 2011. "The recent evolution of the natural rate of unemployment," Working Paper Series 2011-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  17. 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.
  18. Mary C. Daly & Bart Hobijn, 2010. "Okun’s law and the unemployment surprise of 2009," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue mar8.
  19. Barnichon, Regis, 2010. "Building a composite Help-Wanted Index," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 175-178, December.
  20. 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.
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