Unemployment occurs when a person is available to work and currently seeking work, but the person is without work.The prevalence of unemployment is usually measured using the unemployment rate, which is defined as the percentage of those in the labor force who are unemployed. The unemployment rate is also used in economic studies and economic indexes as a measure of the state of the macroeconomics.
There are a variety of different
causes of unemployment, and disagreement on which causes are most important.
Different schools of economic thought suggest different policies to address
unemployment. Monetarists for example, believe that controlling inflation to
facilitate growth and investment is more important, and will lead to increased
employment in the long run. Keynesians on the other hand emphasize the smoothing out of business cycles
by manipulating aggregate demand. There is also disagreement on
how exactly to measure unemployment. For example, the conservative government,
when in power in the
According to economist Edmond Malinvaud, the type of unemployment that occurs depends on the situation at the goods market, rather than that they belong to opposing economic theories. If the market for goods is a buyers' market (i.e.: sales are restricted by demand), Keynesian unemployment may ensue while a limiting production capacity is more consistent with classical unemployment.
A common typology of unemployment is the following:
Frictional unemployment occurs when a worker moves from one job to another. While he searches for a job he is experiencing frictional unemployment. This applies for fresh graduates looking for employment as well. This is a productive part of the economy, increasing both the worker's long term welfare and economic efficiency. It is a result of imperfect information in the labour market, because if job seekers knew that they would be employed for a particular job vacancy, almost no time would be lost in getting a new job, eliminating this form of unemployment.
Classical or real-wage unemployment occurs when real wages for a job are set above the market-clearing level. This is often ascribed to government intervention, as with the minimum wage, or labour unions. Some, such as Murray Rothbard suggest that even social taboos can prevent wages from falling to the market clearing level.
classical or real wages
Structural unemployment is caused by a mismatch between jobs offered by employers and potential workers. This may pertain to geographical location, skills, and many other factors.
If such a mismatch exists, frictional unemployment is likely to be more significant as well. Seasonal unemployment occurs when an occupation is not in demand at certain seasons.
Cyclical or Keynesian unemployment, also known as demand deficient unemployment, occurs when there is not enough aggregate demand in the economy. This is caused by a business cycle recession, and wages not falling to meet the equilibrium rate.
There is considerable debate among economists as to the causes of unemployment. Keynesian economics emphasizes unemployment resulting from insufficient effective demand for goods and services in the economy (cyclical unemployment). Others point to structural problems, inefficiencies, inherent in labour markets (structural unemployment). Classical or neoclassical economics tends to reject these explanations, and focuses more on rigidities imposed on the labor market from the outside, such as minimum wage laws, taxes, and other regulations that may discourage the hiring of workers (classical unemployment). Yet others see unemployment as largely due to voluntary choices by the unemployed (frictional unemployment).
Though there have been several definitions of voluntary and involuntary unemployment in the economics literature, a simple distinction is often applied. Voluntary unemployment is attributed to the individual's decisions, whereas involuntary unemployment exists because of the socio-economic environment (including the market structure, government intervention, and the level of aggregate demand) in which individuals operate. In these terms, much or most of frictional unemployment is voluntary, since it reflects individual search behavior. On the other hand, cyclical unemployment, structural unemployment, and classical unemployment, are largely involuntary in nature. However, the existence of structural unemployment may reflect choices made by the unemployed in the past, while classical unemployment may result from the legislative and economic choices made by labor unions and/or political parties. So in practice, the distinction between voluntary and involuntary unemployment is hard to draw. The clearest cases of involuntary unemployment are those where there are fewer job vacancies than unemployed workers even when wages are allowed to adjust, so that even if all vacancies were to be filled, there would be unemployed workers. This is the case of cyclical unemployment, for which macroeconomic forces lead to microeconomic unemployment.
Open unemployment is generally associated with capitalist economies. In this view, unemployment is not an aberration of capitalism, indicating any sort of systemic malfunction. Rather, unemployment is a necessary structural feature of capitalism, intended to discipline the workforce. If unemployment is too low, workers make wage demands that either cuts into profits to an extent that jeopardize future investment, or are passed on to consumers, thus generating inflationary instability. David Schweickart suggests, 'Capitalism cannot be a full-employment economy, except in the very short term. For unemployment is the 'invisible hand' -- carrying a stick -- that keeps the workforce in line.
Classical economists dispute this, arguing that when there is too high a supply of labour, providing unions and Government have no prevented wage changes, the wage rate should fall, returning the economy to its long run efficient position at full employment.
Libertarian thinkers like F.A. Hayek claimed that unemployment increases the more the government intervenes into the economy to try to improve the rights of those with jobs. For example, he asserted that minimum wages raise the cost of labour to above the market equilibrium, resulting in people who wish to work at the going rate but cannot as the wages are higher than their worth to business; unemployment. They believed that laws restricting layoffs made businesses less likely to hire in the first place leaving many young people unemployed and unable to find work.
This school (the
One of the explanations behind (structural unemployment) and a warning that this kind of unemployment could be permanent in modern society, came from economist and philosopher Andr Gorz.The microchip revolution and the explosion in computer science and robotising of work even in less developed industrialized countries is the main reason.
He therefore argues that the idea of `working less so everyone can work and that an basic income for all must be the solution,and he explains: 'The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet- unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact
'From the point where it takes only 1,000 hours per year or 20,000 to 30,000 hours per lifetime to create an amount of wealth equal to or greater than the amount we create at the present time in 1,600 hours per year or 40,000 to 50,000 hours in a working life, we must all be able to obtain a real income equal to or higher than our current salaries in exchange for a greatly reduced quantity of work
'Neither is it true any longer that the more each individual works, the better off everyone will be. The present crisis has stimulated technological change of an unprecedented scale and speed: `the microchip revolution'. The object and indeed the effect of this revolution has been to make rapidly increasing savings in labour, in the industrial, administrative and service sectors. Increasing production is secured in these sectors by decreasing amounts of labour. As a result, the social process of production no longer needs everyone to work in it on a full-time basis.
Unemployment may have advantages as well as disadvantages for the overall economy. Notably, it may help avert runaway inflation, which negatively affects almost everyone in the affected economy and has serious long-term economic costs. However the historic assumption that full local employment must lead directly to local inflation has been attenuated, as recently expanded international trade has shown itself able to continue to supply low-priced goods even as local employment rates rise closer to full employment.
The inflation-fighting benefits to the entire economy arising from a presumed optimum level of unemployment has been studied extensively. Before current levels of world trade were developed, unemployment was demonstrated to reduce inflation, following the Phillips curve, or to decelerate inflation, following the NAIRU/natural rate of unemployment theory.
Beyond the benefits of controlled inflation, frictional unemployment provides employers a larger applicant pool from which to select employees better suited to the available jobs. The unemployment needed for this purpose may be very small, however, since it is relatively easy to seek a new job without losing one's current one. And when more jobs are available for fewer workers (lower unemployment), it may allow workers to find the jobs that better fit their tastes, talents, and needs.
As in the Marxian theory of unemployment, special interests may also benefit: some employers may expect that employees with no fear of losing their jobs will not work as hard, or will demand increased wages and benefit. According to this theory, unemployment may promote general labor productivity and profitability by increasing employers' monopsony-like power (and profits).
Optimal unemployment has also been defended as an environmental tool to brake the constantly accelerated growth of the GDP to maintain levels sustainable in the context of resource constraints and environmental impacts. However the tool of denying jobs to willing workers seems a blunt instrument for conserving resources and the environment -- it reduces the consumption of the unemployed across the board, and only in the short-term. Full employment of the unemployed workforce, all focused toward the goal of developing more environmentally efficient methods for production and consumption might provide a more significant and lasting cumulative environmental benefit and reduced resource consumption. If so the future economy and workforce would benefit from the resultant structural increases in the sustainable level of GDP growth.
Some critics of the 'culture of work' such as anarchist Bob Black see employment as overemphasized culturally in modern countries. Such critics often propose quitting jobs when possible, working less, reassessing the cost of living to this end, creation of jobs which are 'fun' as opposed to 'work,' and creating cultural norms where work is seen as unhealthy. These people advocate an 'anti-work' ethic for life.[Hidden, or covered, unemployment is the unemployment of potential workers that is not reflected in official unemployment statistics, due to the way the statistics are collected. In many countries only those who have no work but are actively looking for work (and/or qualifying for social security benefits) are counted as unemployed. Those who have given up looking for work (and sometimes those who are on Government 'retraining' programmes) are not officially counted among the unemployed, even though they are not employed. The same applies to those who have taken early retirement to avoid being laid off, but would prefer to be working. The statistic also does not count the 'underemployed' - those with part time or seasonal jobs who would rather have full time jobs. Because of hidden unemployment, official statistics often underestimate unemployment rates.
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