Skip to main content

How bad is unemployment?

So the unemployment rate is 5.5%, which some suggest is the upper limit of the calculations for the natural rate (some estimates suggest between 5.2 and 5.5%). And yes those measures are plagued by logical problems, let alone the empirical problem that the natural rate seems to be tied to the actual rate. At any rate, given the relevance of actual unemployment for the Fed policy it would be nice to know what the actual rate of unemployment means.

It is worth remembering that the rate of unemployment depends on the participation rate that, as can be seen below, has been falling since the late 1990s. The question is how would the unemployment rate look like if the participation rate remained at the same level it reached at the end of the Clinton boom.
This calculation was done before (here and here), and the new graph is below showing that unemployment would be at a much higher rate.
In fact, the rate of unemployment (u*) would be a bit more than double the current rate of unemployment (u) if the participation rate remained at 67% of the labor force. That might explain why real wages have not increased much in this recovery. The recovery is even weaker than it looks. 


Popular posts from this blog

What is the 'Classical Dichotomy'?

A few brief comments on Brexit and the postmortem of the European Union

Another end of the world is possible
There will be a lot of postmortems for the European Union (EU) after Brexit. Many will suggest that this was a victory against the neoliberal policies of the European Union. See, for example, the first three paragraphs of Paul Mason's column here. And it is true, large contingents of working class people, that have suffered with 'free-market' economics, voted for leaving the union. The union, rightly or wrongly, has been seen as undemocratic and responsible for the economics woes of Europe.

The problem is that while it is true that the EU leaders have been part of the problem and have pursued the neoliberal policies within the framework of the union, sometimes with treaties like the Fiscal Compact, it is far from clear that Brexit and the possible demise of the union, if the fever spreads to France, Germany and other countries with their populations demanding their own referenda, will lead to the abandonment of neoliberal policies. Aust…

A brief note on Venezuela and the turn to the right in Latin America

So besides the coup in Brazil (which was all but confirmed by the last revelations, if you had any doubts), and the electoral victory of Macri in Argentina, the crisis in Venezuela is reaching a critical level, and it would not be surprising if the Maduro administration is recalled, even though right now the referendum is not scheduled yet.

The economy in Venezuela has collapsed (GDP has fallen by about 14% or so in the last two years), inflation has accelerated (to three digit levels; 450% or so according to the IMF), there are shortages of essential goods, recurrent energy blackouts, and all of these aggravated by persistent violence. Contrary to what the press suggests, these events are not new or specific to left of center governments. Similar events occurred in the late 1980s, in the infamous Caracazo, when the fall in oil prices caused an external crisis, inflation, and food shortages, which eventually, after the announcement of a neoliberal economic package that included the i…