Regional Unemployment Forecasting Using Structural Component Models With Spatial Autocorrelation
Labour-market policies are increasingly being decided on a regional level. This implies that institutions have an increased need for regional forecasts as a guideline for their decision-making process. Therefore, we forecast regional unemployment in the 176 German labour market districts. We use an augmented structural component (SC) model and compare the results from this model with those from basic SC and autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models. Basic SC models lack two important dimensions: First, they only use level, trend, seasonal and cyclical components, although former periods of the dependent variable generally have a significant influence on the current value. Second, as spatial units become smaller, the influence of â€œneighbour-effectsâ€ becomes more important. In this paper we augment the SC model for structural breaks, autoregressive components and spatial autocorrelation. Using unemployment data from the Federal Employment Services in Germany for the period December 1997 to August 2005, we first estimate basic SC models with components for structural breaks and ARIMA models for each spatial unit separately. In a second stage, autoregressive components are added into the SC model. Third, spatial autocorrelation is introduced into the SC model. We assume that unemployment in adjacent districts is not independent for two reasons: One source of spatial autocorrelation may be that the effect of certain determinants of unemployment is not limited to the particular district but also spills over to neighbouring districts. Second, factors may exist which influence a whole region but are not fully captured by exogenous variables and are reflected in the residuals. We test the quality of the forecasts from the basic models and the augmented SC model by ex-post-estimation for the period September 2004 to August 2005. First results show that the SC model with autoregressive elements and spatial autocorrelation is superior to basic SC and ARIMA models in most of the German labour market districts.
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