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Accounting for unemployment: the long and short of it

  • Andreas Hornstein

Shimer (2012) accounts for the volatility of unemployment based on a model of homogeneous unemployment. Using data on short-term unemployment he finds that most of unemployment volatility is accounted for by variations in the exit rate from unemployment. The assumption of homogeneous exit rates is inconsistent with the observed negative duration dependence of unemployment exit rates for the U.S. labor market. We construct a simple model of heterogeneous unemployment with short-term and long-term unemployed, and use data on the duration distribution of unemployment to account for entry to and exit from the unemployment pool. This alternative account continues to attribute most of unemployment volatility to variations in exit rates from unemployment, but it also suggests that most of unemployment volatility is due to the volatility of long-term unemployment rather than short-term unemployment. We also show that once one allows for heterogeneous unemployment, the expected value of income losses from unemployment increases substantially, and unemployment volatility implied by a simple matching model increases.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 12-07.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:12-07
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  1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2000. "Combining Micro and Macro Unemployment Duration Data," IZA Discussion Papers 109, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2007. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," IEW - Working Papers 351, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael W. L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2010. "The Labor Market in the Great Recession," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 1-69.
  5. 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 614-37, September.
  6. Abbring, J.H. & van den Berg, G. & van Ours, J.C., 2002. "The anatomy of unemployment dynamics," Other publications TiSEM 539d10a7-be00-4a8e-9c9c-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  7. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin & Robert G. Valletta, 2011. "The Labor Market in the Great Recession: An Update," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-173/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  9. Abbring, J.H. & Berg, G.J. & Ours, J.C., 1994. "The anatomy of unemployment dynamics," Serie Research Memoranda 0024, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  10. Michael Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegül Sahin, 2009. "Unemployment dynamics in the OECD," Working Paper Series 2009-04, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  11. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2007. "The cyclicality of separation and job finding rates," Working Papers 07-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  12. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  13. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1995. "Measuring Business Cycles Approximate Band-Pass Filters for Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 5022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Reporting Errors and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1319-38, November.
  15. 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.
  16. Michael W.L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegül Sahin & Robert G. Valletta, 2011. "The labor market in the Great Recession: an update," Working Paper Series 2011-29, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  17. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder & Shani Schechter, 2010. "What is behind the rise in long-term unemployment?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 28-51.
  18. Baker, Michael, 1992. "Unemployment Duration: Compositional Effects and Cyclical Variability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 313-21, March.
  19. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  20. Abbring, J.H. & van den Berg, G. & van Ours, J.C., 1999. "The Anatomy of Unemployment Dynamics," Discussion Paper 1999-81, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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