Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Okay- I'm really behind in these online notes, but I'm going to catch up as much as I possibly can tonight.

Unemployment is scary stuff! Here we go!

-In the long run, increases in the labor force should be matched by changes in employment (so as the population grows, more people should get hired for more jobs)
-In the short run, changes in the labor force may not match population growth

In Canada, the supply of labour has increased because of increases in the population (probably due to immigration), an increased rate of labor force participation, and an increase in education. Demand for labor has also increased due to new technology and economic growth. In most years, new jobs are created to replace old jobs and provide new jobs for the growing labor force.

In a typical year in Canada, employment increases by 1/4 million jobs.


-In Canada U was 12% in 1980, and 8% in 2008
-During booms, unemployment falls, and during recessions, unemployment rises. Doh
-In Canada, employment is rising, BUT the labor force is growing at a FASTER RATE, so in Canada, the unemployment rate has increased
-The proportion of employment in the service sector has increased (it is now about 75%)
-The proportion of employment in the goods sector has decreased

-According to Naomi Klein, North America produces "brands, no products"
-A lot of labour is outsourced these days
-There is a rise in the amount of low-skill service labor these days (i.e., McJobs)
-There is greater transience in the workforce: people move from job to job more
-Schedules are crappier, and employees receive fewer benefits
-There is less company loyalty, so quality suffers (the Wal-mart greeter makes about $11,000 working full time, so you can bet your ass she's not really that happy to see you)
-The best way to operate here is to see yourself as a movable asset: "Me Inc." sell yourself and you will be happy- attach yourself to any one company and you will not be happy

What are some reasons for these negative changes?
-Low ability levels
-The entry level for better jobs has significantly increased
-Flexible hours are now the norm
-Part-time workers have less legal protection (and are thus preferred)

-The labor market can be seen in terms of flows in about of unemployment, rather than as a simple unemployment rate
-We should examine gross rather than net flows (because this gives us more information about the nature of the labor market)

-Voluntary vs. Involuntary: Technically, voluntary unemployment does not exist, as that individual has technically left the workforce.
-Not all unemployment is bad!

Unemployment: All individuals who are willing and able to work at the going rate, but are unable to find a job

When there is a great deal of involuntary unemployment, we end up with something like the great depression:
-On a small scale, this causes personal hardship and psychological suffering for those who lose their jobs
-On a large scale, this decreases national output per capita, and by association, the standard of living- there is a loss in potential output


Why does it happen? It happens because there is a recessionary gap! (doh)

If Y = Y*, U =0
If Y < Y*, U > U*

Cyclical Unemployment is unemployment in exess of frictional and structural unemployment!

We could see the labour market as any other market where there is supply and demand for labour at different prices.
Demand = the willingness of firms to hire at any given wage rate
Supply = willingness of workers to work at any given wage rate
The price of labor is the real wage rate (w)

As the graph should demonstrate, labor markets are pretty flexible, because wages can shift upward and downward. With wage flexibility, real wages and employment change with economic cycles.

This graph shows that eventually, employment reaches an equilibrium! In other words, there should be no involuntary or cyclical unemployment in the long run...

There are two theories which examine gap unemployment


-We assume here that markets are flexible and that they will eventually clear
-This theory predicts that there will be no cyclical unemployment (but they're wrong! There is cyclical unemployment!)

Here's the logic: since wages are flexible, the labor market will always reach an equilibrium where the amount of labour supplied equals the labor demanded at the going wage rate. Here, no one is involuntarily unemployed, and thus, there is no cyclical unemployment. There are only people who are voluntarily unemployed (i.e., frictional and structural unemployment)

NAIRU, here, can occur due to

Exogenous demand shocks
-Changes in technology or tastes
-Changes in the demand for labour

Exogenous supply shocks
-Changes in the willingness to work
-Changes in the supply of labour

In this model, it is the NAIRU which fluctuates, since the unemployment rate is alwats the NAIRU

NOTE* Real wages ARE flexible and markets DO eventually clear, so this model isn't entirely wrong...

But there are PROBLEMS:
-According to this theory, real wages should change rapidly with the business cycle. This does not happen. Real wages remain relatively constant even as the economy fluctuates
-An unemployed person would be shocked to learn that economists veiw him or her as "voluntarily" unemployed
-This model seems to show that there is no need for stabilization policy, but in reality, we know that there IS!

thankfully, we have...

NEO-KEYNESIAN LABOUR MARKETS (aka, how they actually work)
-Here, labour markets are inflexible and do not clear... at least not in the short run
-This is because of STICKY WAGES! The wage rate does not change fast enough to equate the supply and demand of labour (because wages are not perfectly flexible), as a result, we get unemployment in slumps, and labour shortages in booms.
-Only when the supply and demand of labour are equal is there no involuntary unemployment: it is here that the market clears!

-Demand for labor decreases
-Wages want to fall to their new equilibrium level
-But wages stick at a higher level than the equilibrium
-So there is excess supply of labour, and thus unemployment

-Demand for labor increases
-Wages want to rise to a new equilibrium level
-But wages will not immediately increase to that new equilibrium level: it takes time for that to happen
-In the meantime, there will be excess demand, and therefore a labor shortage

We know that wages are much more likely to be "sticky downward" (they take longer to fall than to rise). Why is this?

-Long-term employment contracts: workers and employers respond to other factors like job security by creating long term contracts: here, wages are planned over the long-term and are thus insulated from short term fluctuations. The fringe benefits of these contractual agreements can be mutually beneficial, as they give employees long term stability, and ensure employers that they will have trained employees invested in the company over a longer period of time

-Menu costs: Changing wages in any way invokes administrative costs

-Efficiency wages: this is when employers pay employees higher wages than the equilibrium wage necessary to hire them, because they believe that the higher wages will act as a motivator, and cause workers to become more efficient

-Unions: unions negotiate on behalf of workers who are already embedded in the workforce, and thus often make it difficult to negotiate for higher wages

-Psychological factors: people find it psychologically difficult to give up wages (even if the price level is dropping, so real wages are effectively still the same)


In summary, Neo-Keynesians assume that markets may not clear, and thus there CAN be involuntary unemployment


In the short run, the Neo-Keynesian are correct: sticky wages can create excess supply or demand of labour... HOWEVER, all of the factors which contribute to sticky wages will not persist in the long run, so eventually, the labour market DOES clear, and wage flexibility eliminates involuntary unemployment. Thus, in the long run, both Classical and Keynesian theories predict that unemployment will be at U*

(The only differences is that for classical economists, there is no short run- that time frame is not taken into account)


-Wages are flexible, so the labour market will always clear
-U is always at U* and there is no gap unemployment (no involuntary unemployment)
-Aggregate demand shocks will have no effect on unemployment, because aggregate supply reacts

-Wages are sticky, and markets will not clear immediately
-U is not always at U*, so there can be gap unemployment (involuntary unemployment)
-Aggregate supply and demand shocks cause gaps


The Non-Accelerating-Inflationary-Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU)

There are 2 components to NAIRU: Frictional and Structural Unemployment

FRICTIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT (Job turnover, or search unemployment)
-This refers to the length of time it takes someone to either find their first job or a new job

STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT (Mismatching of supply and demand of labour)
-It can be supply-side (ie: a worker's skills are needed in an economy, but in a different city, persay)
-It can be demand-side (ie: there are jobs available, but they require more training than the current workforce has accumulated)

-Structural Unemployment may just be long run frictional unemployment
-Both are similar in that the number of unfilled jobs is equal to the number of people looking for work

NAIRU = The Non-Accelerating-Inflationary-Rate of Unemployment
-This is the rate on unemployment when inflation does not accelerate
-In other words, this is the normal, or natural rate of unemployment
-Here, we only have frictional and structural unemployment
-There is no cyclical unemployment at U*
-But "there is always some unemployment at full employment"
-This is the rate of unemployment when the supply and demand of labour are equal
-This is the rate of unemployment at Y*, or Yfe

NEWSFLASH: NAIRU can change over time! How does this happen???

1: Demographic Changes
-Baby boomers and shadow baby boomers, for example, entered the labour market and created a larger flow of voluntary unemployment, thus increasing NAIRU
-Historically, increased female participation in the workforce (where females historically have had a higher unemployment rate than men) will increase NAIRU
-Immigration may affect this as well

2: Labour Market Flexibility
-The speed at which wages adjust to supply and demand changes is slowing down over time
-It is more costly for firms to hire new workers these days, and due to unions and legal issues, it often takes them a longer amount of time to commit to hiring or laying off workers
-Unions and the psychology of concessions also play a role here

3: Government Policy
-Any government policy that reduces labour market flexibility will increase the NAIRU
-EI decreases search costs (the opportunity cost of searching for a new job) and will therefore increase average job search times, thus contributing more to NAIRU
-Severance Pay increases the cost of firing a worker, but at the same time, also makes companies less willing to hire new workers in the first place (its a higher risk, so firms must be more discerning)

4: Globalization and Technological Changes
-Rightsizing, restructuring, retooling, and rationalizing, global competition, and freer trade have increased structural unemployment, many would argue (mature industrial nations such as Canada are expected to provide high level services and technology, while countries with cheaper labour are expected to provide lower level manufacturing and production, but this can often lead to a mismatch between available worker skills and desired potential employee assets)

5: Hysteresis (A lagged effect)
-This theory suggests that the future NAIRU is a function of the current actual rate of unemployment
-This is seen more in European countries with an insider-outsider model to the workforce: in these countries, people who are already employed use their insider power to keep outsiders out
-Recessions prevent on-the-job training and thus reduce the amount of "learning by doing" which can occur, and as a result, when a recession is over, the group of people who would otherwise have gained skills due to simply being employed are left without employable skills, and may thus continue to struggle to find employment


OKUN's LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A 1% Change in the cyclical unemployment rate is associated with a 2% change in the recessionary gap!

So... if the economy goes into a recession and is producing output at 12% below its potential level, than we know that cyclical unemployment has risen by 6%. Similarly, if cyclical unemployment were in increase by 3%, we could predict that output would decrease to 6% below Y*

HOW TO ESTIMATE NAIRU: You need to know Y*, the current output level, and the actual unemployment rate

1: Find Y* (potential output level)
2: Calculate the recessionary gap as a percentage of Y*: (Y-Y*)/Y* multiplied by 100
3: Take 1/2 of the recessionary gap you just calculated. This is the cyclical unemployment rate
4: Subtract the cyclical unemployment rate from the actual unemployment rate. The difference is the normal U-rate, or NAIRU!




Reducing Frictional Unemployment:
-Here, the goal is to decrease turnover time
-Governments could create giant posting boards to match potential employers with potential workers (i.e., Canada Manpower, workopolis, craigslist)

Reducing Structural Unemployment
-The goal here is to make the supply and demand of labour match
-Government initiatives to retrain and relocate workers can help here
-Eliminating resistance to change (i.e., tariffs and subsidies) can help, as these instruments perpetuate the status quo, and may deter people from getting the skills needed to operate in the new global labor market (i.e., if a tariff is supporting a failing industry, then that tariff is also going to deter people employed in that industry from getting the retraining they require to become employed once that industry inevitably topples)
-Aiding change is key here

Reducing Cyclical Unemployment
-The goal here is to bring Y back to Y* by increasing aggregate demand
-This accomplished using fiscal and monetary policy
-YAY! Gap-busting! =D =D

That's all for unemployment. I hope all of you who read this are successful at avoiding summer employment....

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