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Productivity and unemployment over the business cycle

  • Barnichon, Regis

The low correlation between cyclical unemployment and productivity over the post-war period hides a large sign switch in the mid-1980s: from significantly negative the correlation became significantly positive. Using a search model of unemployment with nominal rigidities and variable labor effort, I show that technology shocks can generate a positive unemployment-productivity correlation whereas non-technology shocks (i.e. aggregate demand shocks) tend to do the opposite. In this context, I identify two events that can quantitatively explain the increase in the correlation: (i) a sharp drop in the volatility of non-technology shocks in the mid-1980s, and (ii) a decline in the response of productivity to non-technology shocks, which from procyclical became acyclical in the last 25 years.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 57 (2010)
Issue (Month): 8 (November)
Pages: 1013-1025

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:57:y:2010:i:8:p:1013-1025
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