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Chapter 5: Monitoring Jobs and Inflation

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1 Chapter 5: Monitoring Jobs and Inflation
The labor market Measurement of unemployment, labor force participation, employment-population ratio. Shortcomings of unemployment rate as measure of labor market performance Statistics describing U.S. labor market Prices Why inflation is a problem Measuring the price level: the consumer price index Shortcomings of CPI

2 Unemployment Why is unemployment a problem? Measuring unemployment
Lost production and income Lost human capital Measuring unemployment The Current Population Survey Monthly survey Approximately 60,000 households Used to monitor employment, hours wages Primary source of data for unemployment rates

3 Labor Force Measures: 4th quarter, 2009
U.S. population: million Civilian Non-institutionalized Working age (16+) population: m. In Labor Force 153.5 m. Employed 138.1 Unemployed 15.4 Out of labor force 83.2 m. Not in Civilian Non-Institutionalized Population 71.8 m.

4 Labor market definitions
Civilian Non-institutionalized Working Age Population Excludes military and institutionalized Working age is 16+ Unemployed Without work but has made specific efforts to find a job within the previous four weeks Waiting to be called back to a job from which he or she has been laid off Waiting to start a new job within 30 days

5 Labor market statistics




9 Which is more cyclical – participation rate or employment ratio? Why?

10 Unemployment as a measure of labor utilization.
Imperfect measure because Excludes some underutilized Underemployed e.g. part-time workers who want full-time work Discouraged workers People who want jobs but quit searching due to lack of job opportunities Some unemployment is “natural” Even when economy is operating at capacity, there are new entrants who must search for jobs In 2008, more than 3 million new workers entered the labor force and more than 2.5 million workers retired in U.S. economy.

11 Sources of Unemployment
People become unemployed if they Lose their jobs and search for another job. Leave their jobs and search for another job. Enter or reenter the labor force to search for a job. People end a spell of unemployment if they Are hired or recalled. Withdraw from the labor force.

12 All are counter-cyclical, but job losers is most sensitive to business cycle.

13 Types of Unemployment Frictional Structural Cyclical
unemployment that arises from normal labor market turnover (entry, re-entry, etc.) Affected by UI generosity, demographics Structural unemployment created by changes in technology and foreign competition that change the skills needed to perform jobs or the locations of jobs Cyclical Fluctuating unemployment over the business cycle Temporary loss of jobs associated with a recession

14 Natural Rate of Unemployment
The unemployment rate when the economy is at “full employment” has only frictional and structural unemployment, no cyclical unemployment Natural unemployment rate in 1980s was thought to be around 6%; thought to be around 5% in 1990s and 2000s. Decline in natural rate due to changing demographics Baby boom Entry of women into labor market

15 Real GDP and Unemployment
Potential GDP is the quantity of real GDP produced when the economy is at full employment When the unemployment rate equals the natural rate Output Gap = Real GDP – Potential GDP


17 Inflation Price level average of the prices that people pay for all the goods and services that they buy. Inflation rate percentage change in the price level between time periods. Inflation occurs when the price level is rising persistently. Deflation occurs when inflation is negative and prices are falling persistently

18 Why inflation is a problem
Redistributes income and wealth Borrowers and lenders Employers and workers Taxes that are not indexed for inflation Diverts resources from production Inflation forecasting becomes more important Negotiate shorter contracts more frequently May lead to “barter” if inflation rises to sufficiently high levels (hyperinflation)

19 Measuring the price level and inflation
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average of the prices paid by urban consumers for a “fixed” basket of consumer goods and services. defined to equal 100 for the reference or base period. Using as the base year, the CPI in December 2009 was 216 prices in December 2009 were 116 percent higher than in

20 Constructing the CPI Selecting the basket
Based on Consumer Expenditure Survey of Basket contains 80,000 goods

21 Constructing the CPI The monthly price survey Calculating the CPI
Every month, BLS employees check the prices of 80,000 goods in 30 metropolitan areas Calculating the CPI Find the cost of the CPI basket at base-period prices. Find the cost of the CPI basket at current-period prices. CPI in t = Cost of bundle at current prices in t X Cost of bundle at base year prices

22 Base year = 2008 CPI in 2008 = (70/70)*100 =100 (CPI in base year always equals 100 CPI in 2009 = (70/50)*100 =140 Inflation rate between 2008 & 09 percentage change in CPI ( )/100 = 40%

23 The Price Level: =100

24 The Inflation Rate

25 Biases in CPI The CPI might overstate the true inflation for four reasons: New goods bias Quality change bias Commodity substitution bias Outlet substitution bias

26 Consequences of bias in CPI
Increases government spending too quickly Social Security, Disability, etc. Approximately 1/3 of federal spending tied to CPI Causes tax revenue to rise too slowly Income tax code is tied to CPI Creates downward bias in estimate of real earnings growth Distorts private contracts tied to CPI Union COLA’s

27 Other price indexes CPI for different types of consumers
Urban consumers Urban workers Different regions, states, metro areas CPI for specific commodity groups Core CPI Excludes food and energy GDP deflator (covered earlier) Covers prices of all goods & services produced, not just what consumers purchase.

28 Adjusting for Inflation: Nominal vs. Real Variables
Real Variable in t = Nominal Variable in t X Price Index in t Price index could be CPI or GDP deflator e.g. If Nominal Wage in 2010 is $20 and CPI is 200, Real Wage in 2010 is Real variable Adjusts nominal values to reflect prices in base year.

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