Unemployment: Cyclical or Structural?

Eric Swanson reports on the San Francisco Fed macro conference:

“Breaking down changes in output or employment into structural and cyclical components is very difficult, since these elements are not directly observable. Two papers at the conference applied cutting-edge methods to this question, providing estimates of the structural and cyclical components of the 2007–09 recession’s large employment and output declines.

Chen, Kannan, Loungani, and Trehan use differences in stock market returns across industries to help identify the magnitudes of cyclical and structural shocks to the economy … Chen and coauthors collected cross-industry stock return data from 1962 to 2011, which they use to construct an index of stock return dispersion across industries. The authors then estimate the typical response of output and employment to sudden changes in this index, providing an approximation to the effects of structural shifts on the economy. The authors find that such structural shifts account for about 25% of U.S. output and employment fluctuations since 1962. The remaining 75% is due to cyclical factors.”

Read the rest of Swanson’s excellent summary here. The Chen, Kannan, Loungani and Trehan paper is available here.

Posted by at 6:47 PM

Labels: Unemployment

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