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The ins and outs of unemployment in the long run: unemployment flows and the natural rate

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  • Murat Tasci

Abstract

This paper proposes an empirical method for estimating a long-run trend for the unemployment rate that is grounded in the modern theory of unemployment. I write down an unobserved-components model and identify the cyclical and trend components of the underlying unemployment flows, which in turn imply a timevarying estimate of the unemployment trend, the natural rate. I identify a sharp decline in the outflow rate—the job finding rate—since 2000, which was partly offset by the secular decline in the inflow rate—the separation rate—since the 1980s, implying a relatively stable natural rate, currently at 6 percent. Numerical examples show that slower labor reallocation, along with the weak output growth, explains most of the persistence in unemployment since the Great Recession. ; Contrary to the business-cycle movements of the unemployment rate, a significant fraction of the low-frequency variation can be accounted for by changes in the trend of the inflows, especially prior to 1985. Finally, I highlight several desirable features of this natural rate concept that makes it a better measure than traditional counterparts. These include statistical precision, the significance of required revisions to past estimates with subsequent data additions, policy relevance and its tight link with the theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Murat Tasci, 2012. "The ins and outs of unemployment in the long run: unemployment flows and the natural rate," Working Paper 1224, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1224
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, 2015. "Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 371-413.
    2. Tasci, Murat & Verbrugge, Randal, 2014. "How Much Slack Is in the Labor Market? That Depends on What You Mean by Slack," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Oct.
    3. Gonul Sengul & Murat Tasci, 2014. "Unemployment Flows, Participation and the Natural Rate for Turkey," Working Papers 1435, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
    4. Fujita, Shigeru, 2016. "All Layoffs Are Not Created Equal," Economic Insights, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, vol. 1(3), pages 1-8, Q3.
    5. Mark E. Schweitzer & Murat Tasci, 2013. "What constitutes substantial employment gains in today’s labor market?," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jun.
    6. Michal Tvrdoň, 2015. "Decomposition of Unemployment: The Case of the Visegrad group countries," Working Papers 0005, Silesian University, School of Business Administration.
    7. Meyer, Brent & Tasci, Murat, 2015. "Lessons for forecasting unemployment in the United States: use flow rates, mind the trend," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2015-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. Fujita, Shigeru, 2015. "Declining labor turnover and turbulence," Working Papers 15-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, revised 02 Feb 2018.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment ; Business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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