Thursday, August 2, 2012
A new IMF report on US structural unemployment says that
while high long-term unemployment has not yet morphed into a permanent structural problem, it does pose an upward risk to the structural rate of unemployment. We have found that long-term unemployed are significantly less likely to find a job now than before the crisis, and that the loss in labor market matching efficiency observed since the recession is entirely due to a worsening of the labor matching of the long-term unemployed. Together, these results point to a risk that the structural rate of unemployment might be greater now than before the crisis.
Hence, forceful measures should be introduced that reduce long-term unemployment and address the risks associated with long spells of unemployment, namely skills erosion and a weaker attachment to the labor force. These measures include policies to increase demand for the long-term unemployed in the short run (active labor market policies, ALMP). When appropriately designed, such policies have been shown to be effective in improving employment and earnings prospects of long-term unemployed workers (Card et al, 2010; Card and Levine, 2000; Heinrich et al., 2008; Hotz et al., 2006). In particular, as discussed in the Staff report, a significant increase in ALMP resources is warranted given the persistently large pool of long-term unemployed and the risk that, as duration lengthens, their skills and attachment to the workforce might erode. Indeed, in terms of resources per long-term unemployed, the United States spends relatively little on active labor market policies, both compared to other OECD countries, and relative to its own pre-recession levels.
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