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Three-And-A-Half Million U.S. Employees Have Been Mislaid: Or, An Explanation of Unemployment, 1934-1941

  • Michael R. Darby

A major conceptual error in the standard BLS and Lebergott unemployment estimates for 1933-1943 is reported. Emergency workers (employees of federal contracyclical programs such as WPA) were counted as unemployed on a normal-jobs-to-be-created instead of job-seekers unemployment definition. For 1934-1941, the corrected unemployment levels are reduced by two to three-and-a half million people and the rates by 4 to 7 percentage points. The corrected data show strong movement toward the natural unemployment rate after 1933 and are very well explained by an anticipations-search model using annual full-time earnings.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0088.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0088.

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Date of creation: May 1975
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Publication status: published as Darby, Michael R. "Three-And-A-Half Million U.S. Employees Have Been Mislaid: Or, An Explanation of Unemployment, 1934-1941." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 84, No. 1, (February 1976), pp. 1-16.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0088
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  2. Gordon, Robert J, 1969. "$45 Billion of U.S. Private Investment Has Been Mislaid," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 221-38, June.
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