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A Great Recession in the UK Labour Market : A Transatlantic Perspective


  • Smith, Jennifer

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

  • Elsby, Michael

    (University of Michigan and NBER)


The increase in unemployment in the United Kingdom that accompanied the Great Recession has been conspicuous by its moderation. The rise in joblessness is dwarfed by the recent experience of the United States, by past recessionary episodes in the U.K. and by the contraction in GDP in the U.K. Increased rates of job loss have played a dominant role in shaping the rise in British unemployment. Unemployment duration has not increased to the levels seen in previous recessions, in contrast to the U.S. where duration substantially exceeds previous peaks. Looking forward, the U.K. labour market appears to have adjusted fully to the shocks that prompted the recession. Signs of reductions in match efficiency witnessed recently in the U.S. are not mirrored in the U.K. In contrast, while long-term unemployment currently remains well below historical levels, recent estimates of job finding rates suggest that it has the potential to rise much further. Thus, a timely recovery in aggregate demand will play an important role in averting persistently high unemployment in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Jennifer & Elsby, Michael, 2010. "A Great Recession in the UK Labour Market : A Transatlantic Perspective," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 945, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:945

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerling, Kerstin & Gruner, Hans Peter & Kiel, Alexandra & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2005. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 563-597, September.
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    4. Bauke Visser & Otto H. Swank, 2007. "On Committees of Experts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 337-372.
    5. Mark Harris & Paul Levine & Christopher Spencer, 2011. "A decade of dissent: explaining the dissent voting behavior of Bank of England MPC members," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 413-442, March.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:23-35_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Timothy Besley & Neil Meads & Paolo Surico, 2008. "Insiders versus Outsiders in Monetary Policymaking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 218-223, May.
    8. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Delayed doves: MPC voting behaviour of externals," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19611, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Christopher Spencer, 2006. "The Dissent Voting Behaviour of Bank of England MPC Members," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0306, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nitika Bagaria & Dawn Holland & John Van Reenen, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation During a Depression," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 221(1), pages 42-54, July.
    2. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2016. "The extent and cyclicality of career changes: Evidence for the U.K," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 18-41.
    3. Carlos Carrillo-Tudela & Bart Hobijn & Powen She & Ludo Visschers, 2014. "The Extent and Cyclicality of Career Changes: Evidence for the UK (first version)," ESE Discussion Papers 246, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    4. Tindara Addabbo & Paula Rodríguez-Modroño & Lina Gálvez-Muñoz, 2013. "Gender and the Great Recession: Changes in labour supply in Spain," Department of Economics (DEMB) 0010, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    5. repec:mod:depeco:0010 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Pedro Gomes, 2015. "The importance of frequency in estimating labour market transition rates," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, December.

    More about this item


    Labour market ; business cycle ; unemployment ; worker flows JEL Classification: E24 ; J6;

    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
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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