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The natural rate of unemployment in europe

By the standards of other high-income economies, the natural rate of unemployment in the U.S. economy appears relatively low. Through good economic years and bad, many European economies have had unemployment rates hovering near 10%, or even higher, since the 1970s. European rates of unemployment have been higher not because recessions in Europe have been deeper, but rather because the conditions underlying supply and demand for labor have been different in Europe, in a way that has created a much higher natural rate of unemployment.

Many European countries have a combination of generous welfare and unemployment benefits, together with nests of rules that impose additional costs on businesses when they hire. In addition, many countries have laws that require firms to give workers months of notice before laying them off and to provide substantial severance or retraining packages after laying them off. The legally required notice before laying off a worker can be more than three months in Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium, and the legally required severance package can be as high as a year’s salary or more in Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece. Such laws will surely discourage laying off or firing current workers. But when companies know that it will be difficult to fire or lay off workers, they also become hesitant about hiring in the first place.

The typically higher levels of unemployment in many European countries in recent years, which have prevailed even when economies are growing at a solid pace, are attributable to the fact that the sorts of laws and regulations that lead to a high natural rate of unemployment are much more prevalent in Europe than in the United States.

A preview of policies to fight unemployment

The Government Budgets and Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Policy Around the World chapters provide a detailed discussion of how to fight unemployment, when these policies can be discussed in the context of the full array of macroeconomic goals and frameworks for analysis. But even at this preliminary stage, it is useful to preview the main issues concerning policies to fight unemployment.

The remedy for unemployment will depend on the diagnosis. Cyclical unemployment is a short-term problem, caused because the economy is in a recession. Thus, the preferred solution will be to avoid or minimize recessions. As Government Budgets and Fiscal Policy discusses, this policy can be enacted by stimulating the overall buying power in the economy, so that firms perceive that sales and profits are possible, which makes them eager to hire.

Dealing with the natural rate of unemployment is trickier. There is not much to be done about the fact that in a market-oriented economy, firms will hire and fire workers. Nor is there much to be done about how the evolving age structure of the economy, or unexpected shifts in productivity, will affect the natural rate of unemployment for a time. However, as the example of high ongoing unemployment rates for many European countries illustrates, government policy clearly can affect the natural rate of unemployment that will persist even when GDP is growing.

When a government enacts policies that will affect workers or employers, it must examine how these policies will affect the information and incentives employees and employers have to seek each other out. For example, the government may have a role to play in helping some of the unemployed with job searches. The design of government programs that offer assistance to unemployed workers and protections to employed workers may need to be rethought so that they will not unduly discourage the supply of labor. Similarly, rules that make it difficult for businesses to begin or to expand may need to be redesigned so that they will not unduly discourage the demand for labor. The message is not that all laws affecting labor markets should be repealed, but only that when such laws are enacted, a society that cares about unemployment will need to consider the tradeoffs involved.

The mysterious case of the missing candidates

After reading the chapter you might think the current unemployment conundrum may be due to structural unemployment. Indeed, there is a mismatch between the skills employers are seeking and the skills the unemployed possess. But Peter Cappelli has a slightly different view on this—it is called the purple squirrel. The what?

In human resource parlance, a purple squirrel is a job candidate who is a perfect fit for all of the many different responsibilities of a position. A purple squirrel candidate could step into a multi-faceted position with no training and permit the firm to higher fewer people because the worker is so versatile. During the Great Recession, Human Resources (HR) positions were reduced. This means today’s hiring managers are drafting job descriptions and requirements without much, if any HR feedback. “It turns out it's typically the case that employers' requirements are crazy, they're not paying enough, or their applicant screening is so rigid that nobody gets through,” Cappelli stated in a 2012 Knowledge@Wharton interview about the findings in his book, Why Good People Can’t Find Jobs: Chasing After the Purple Squirrel . In short, managers are searching for “purple squirrels” when what they really need are just versatile workers. There really is not a shortage of “normal squirrels”—candidates who are versatile workers. The managers just cannot find them because their requirements, screening processes, and compensation will filter out all but the “purple” ones.

Key concepts and summary

The natural rate of unemployment is the rate of unemployment that would be caused by the economic, social, and political forces in the economy even when the economy is not in a recession. These factors include the frictional unemployment that occurs when people are put out of work for a time by the shifts of a dynamic and changing economy and any laws concerning conditions of hiring and firing have the undesired side effect of discouraging job formation. They also include structural unemployment, which occurs when demand shifts permanently away from a certain type of job skill.


As the baby boomer generation retires, what should happen to wages and employment? Can you show this graphically?

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Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Accessed March 6, 2015 http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000.

Cappelli, P. (20 June 2012). “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: Chasing After the Purple Squirrel.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=3027.

Questions & Answers

What is Bank rate
Arranolla Reply
How defined macroeconomics
Arranolla Reply
Macroeconomics is the study of economy wide phenomena,including inflation,economic growth and unemployment.
Someone tells you "That theory has no practical value because it is abstract, it is not real , it exist only in the mind of the theorist". Refute the Statement.
johan Reply
Truly theory sometimes look like an abstract, but some theory has been tested scientifically and we believed they exist. just like the law of demand which States that the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded vice versa. But the rule does not hold in luxury goods.
Ty for the answer sir..😘
Is it right
explain estimation problem please.
Nnenna Reply
Which is the role of household in the Government policy?
Giada Reply
What is the role of household in the Government policy?
Giada Reply
households are very important because the consumption of the goods and services are by people. households play a big role in that
And how about work? Can they influence the government policy through the work market?
yes household can influence government policy. you see it is all about the demand and supply of commodities. Demand generated by household has to be fulfilled by the industries which in turn ofcourse influence government policies
Do the neoclassica theory and the Keynesian one have a different vision about the household's influence in the Government policy?
what are the causes of voluntary and involuntary unemployment?
involentary the unemployment is when say someone is working part-time but wishes to work full time
in most of economists view a person is involuntarily unemployed if he want to move for better wage rate at some point above the market equilibrium, that he stays right now.
what are the two type of intermediation and whats there differences?
Simonsakala Reply
This might help friend. ***economicshelp.org/blog/6318/economics/functions-and-examples-of-financial-intermediaries/
I'm new myself. I couldn't explain it very well. That's why I gave the link.
OK tnx
i dont know sir pls explain anybody
thanks...ti khu
never worry
The are many types of intermediaries
You're welcome Simonsakala Musaka!
A lot of the content is verbatim what's in my College textbook except this book explains it more whereas my College Book seems to think I should already know haha
please help explain mpc
Nnenna Reply
MPC is partly the each income to expenditure..
s the proportion of an aggregate raise in pay that a consumer spends on the consumption of goods and services, as opposed to saving it.
it's simply how much of one's income spent on consumption. so if on the average people in an economy spend 65% of their income on goods and services and save 35%, the MPC for that economy is 0.65 and their MPS is 0.35. The MPS is how much of their income not spent, but saved. I hope this helps.
Georgina explained it impeccably.
Consumption is defined as the usage of goods or services to satisfy human wants.
Bachabor Reply
What is Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC)?
What is Marginal Propensity to Consume(MPC)?
MPC means that when disposable increase, personal consumer spending increases also.
When debit and credit entries on the balance of payments are not balanced what is it called?
Thabiso Reply
unbalanced balance sheet
Thank you very much.
what is consumption
the use of goods and services by households
What is economics?
munna Reply
Economy is a subject which deals with the economic activities of human being such as production, consumption,and distribution
what is demand
ddamba Reply
is the desire backed by ability to buy a certain commodity at given price in given period of time.
willingness is a must
what's macroeconomics?
Macroeconomics is the study of how society as a whole (an entire country's economy) chooses to allocate and use scarce resources to produce, consume and exchange in the market
what is economy
How do you distinguish leading indicators from coincident indicators to lagging indicators?
Thabiso Reply
What is externalities and environmental taxation
Ganiyu Reply
environmental taxes are kind of economics instruments to adress environmental problems.
What is the reason behind present increasing interest rate in Argentina? Why its currency is devaluating?
Due to lot of money supply
Due to supply of money...when money supply is raise,interest rate decreases but when it's cut or decrease ,it increases interest rate.So in Argentina,with regards to money supply,interest rate will only increase when money supply decreases which in turn with higher interest rate devalue currency.

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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