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Structural unemployment


  • Benedikt Herz
  • Thijs van Rens


Structural unemployment is due to mismatch between available jobs and workers. We formalize this concept in a simple model of a segmented labor market with search frictions within segments. Worker mobility, job mobility and wage bargaining costs across segments generate structural unemployment. We estimate the contribution of these costs to fluctuations in US unemployment, operationalizing segments as states or industries. Most structural unemployment is due to wage bargaining costs, which are large but nevertheless contribute little to unemployment fluctuations. Structural unemployment is as cyclical as overall unemployment and no more persistent, both in the current and in previous recessions.

Suggested Citation

  • Benedikt Herz & Thijs van Rens, 2011. "Structural unemployment," Economics Working Papers 1276, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erica L. Groshen & Simon M. Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Jinzhu & Kannan, Prakash & Loungani, Prakash & Trehan, Bharat, 2012. "New evidence on cyclical and structural sources of unemployment," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue March, pages 1-23.
    2. Ludo Visschers & Carlos Carrillo-Tudela, 2011. "Unemployment and Endogenous Reallocation over the Business Cycle," 2011 Meeting Papers 1101, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Di Pace, Federico & Hertweck, Matthias S., 2012. "Labour Market Frictions, Monetary Policy, and Durable Goods," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62052, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. repec:wly:japmet:v:31:y:2016:i:7:p:1197-1214 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Herrendorf, Berthold & Rogerson, Richard & Valentinyi, Ákos, 2014. "Growth and Structural Transformation," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 855-941 Elsevier.
    6. Francesco Furlanetto & Nicolas Groshenny, 2016. "Mismatch Shocks and Unemployment During the Great Recession," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(7), pages 1197-1214, November.
    7. Anna Sabadash, 2013. "ICT-induced Technological Progress and Employment: A Literature Review," JRC Working Papers on Digital Economy 2013-07, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    8. Hall, Robert E. & Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, 2015. "Measuring Job-Finding Rates and Matching Efficiency with Heterogeneous Jobseekers," Working Papers 721, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Regis Barnichon & Andrew Figura, 2015. "Labor Market Heterogeneity and the Aggregate Matching Function," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 222-249, October.
    10. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John C. Haltiwanger, 2012. "Recruiting Intensity during and after the Great Recession: National and Industry Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 584-588, May.
    11. Sedláček, Petr, 2014. "Match efficiency and firms' hiring standards," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 123-133.
    12. Anna Sabadash, 2013. "ICT-induced Technological Progress and Employment: a Happy Marriage or a Dangerous Liaison? A Literature Review," JRC Working Papers JRC76143, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    13. Bauer, Anja, 2013. "Mismatch unemployment : evidence from Germany 2000-2010," IAB Discussion Paper 201310, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    14. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Visschers, Ludo, 2014. "Unemployment and Endogenous Reallocation over the Business Cycle," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-35, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    15. Herrendorf, Berthold & Rogerson, Richard & Valentinyi, Ákos, 2014. "Growth and Structural Transformation," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 855-941 Elsevier.
    16. José Ramón García Martínez & Valeri Sorolla, 2013. "Frictional and Non Frictional Unemployment in Models with Matching Frictions," Working Papers. Serie AD 2013-02, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    17. Michal Tvrdoň, 2015. "Decomposition of Unemployment: The Case of the Visegrad group countries," Working Papers 0005, Silesian University, School of Business Administration.
    18. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2131 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Yuelin Liu, 2014. "How Structural Is Unemployment in the United States?," Discussion Papers 2014-42, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    20. Domenico Ferraro, 2014. "The Asymmetric Cyclical Behavior of the U.S. Labor Market," 2014 Meeting Papers 1104, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item


    structural unemployment; mismatch; dispersion labor market conditions; worker mobility; job mobility; wage rigidities;

    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
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion


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