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Is the official unemployment rate misleading? a look at labor market statistics over the business cycle

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  • Lisa Barrow

Abstract

While maximum unemployment rates following the most recent economic recession are low by historical standards, the lack of increase in payroll employment leads many to conclude that official unemployment rates understate current labor market weakness. This article compares other labor market statistics during the current period with earlier recoveries. While the level of the current unemployment rate may not directly comparable with earlier periods, additional labor market evidence discussed here suggests that the current labor market may be stronger than in previous recovery periods of the past 30 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa Barrow, 2004. "Is the official unemployment rate misleading? a look at labor market statistics over the business cycle," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 21-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhep:y:2004:i:qii:p:21-35:n:v.28no.2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 2003. "The Band Pass Filter," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 435-465, May.
    2. Lisa Barrow & Kristin F. Butcher, 2004. "Not working: demographic changes, policy changes, and the distribution of weeks (not) worked," Working Paper Series WP-04-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    3. John Haltiwanger & Marilyn E. Manser & Robert Topel, 1998. "Labor Statistics Measurement Issues," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number halt98-1.
    4. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise in the Disability Rolls and the Decline in Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-206.
    5. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 2002. "The NAIRU in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 115-136, Fall.
    6. Daniel Aaronson & Ellen R. Rissman & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2004. "Assessing the jobless recovery," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 2-21.
    7. Anne E. Polivka & Stephen M. Miller, 1998. "The CPS after the Redesign: Refocusing the Economic Lens," NBER Chapters,in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 249-289 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Della Lee Sue, 2008. "Unemployment Index: A Multidimensional Measure of Labor Market Efficiency," New York Economic Review, New York State Economics Association (NYSEA), pages 44-69.
    2. Julie L. Hotchkiss & John C. Robertson, 2006. "Asymmetric labor force participation decisions over the business cycle: evidence from U.S. microdata," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Daniel Aaronson & Ellen R. Rissman & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2004. "Assessing the jobless recovery," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 2-21.

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    Keywords

    Unemployment ; Labor market ; Business cycles;

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