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The ins and outs of unemployment in the long run: a new estimate for the natural rate?

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  • Murat Tasci

Abstract

In this paper, we present a simple, reduced form model of comovements in real activity and unemployment flows and use it to uncover the trend changes in these flows, which determine the trend in the unemployment rate. We argue that this trend rate has several key features that are reminiscent of a “natural rate.” We show that the natural rate, measured this way, has been relatively stable in the last decade, even after the last recession hit the U.S. economy. This relatively muted change was due to two opposing trend changes: On one hand, the trend in the job-finding rate, after being relatively stable for decades, declined by a significant margin in the last decade, pushing trend unemployment up. On the other hand, the separation rate has somewhat offset this effect with a continued secular decline since the early 1980s. We also show that, contrary to business-cycle frequency movements, most of the low-frequency variation in the unemployment rate could be accounted for by changes in the trend of separation rates, not job-finding rates. The notable exception is the last decade, when clear trend changes in both flows imply opposing effects on the trend unemployment rate and slower worker reallocation in the U.S. economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Murat Tasci, 2010. "The ins and outs of unemployment in the long run: a new estimate for the natural rate?," Working Paper 1017, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 01 Sep 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Faberman, R. Jason, 2017. "Job flows, jobless recoveries, and the Great Moderation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 152-170.
    2. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Business Volatility, Job Destruction, and Unemployment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 259-287, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2009. "The Cyclicality Of Separation And Job Finding Rates," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 415-430, May.
    5. Clark, Peter K., 1989. "Trend reversion in real output and unemployment," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 15-32, January.
    6. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
    7. Darby, Michael R & Haltiwanger, John C & Plant, Mark W, 1985. "Unemployment Rate Dynamics and Persistent Unemployment under Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 614-637, September.
    8. 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.
    9. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
    10. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kajuth, Florian, 2012. "Identifying the Phillips curve through shifts in volatility," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 975-991.

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    Keywords

    Unemployment;

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