Who Are the Unemployed

We can diagnose labor market conditions ‘by comparing years in which output is above its potential (of which 1999-2000 was a recent period) with those of deep recessions (such as was seen in 1982), Differences between these years show how business cycles affect the amount, sources, duration, and distribution of unemployment.

Table 31-3 shows unemployment statistics for boom and recession years. The first two columns of numbers are the unemployment rates by age, race, and sex. These data show that the unemployment rate of every group tends to rise during recession. The last two columns show how the total pool of unemployment is distributed among different groups; observe that the distribution of unemployment across groups changes relatively little throughout the business cycle.

Note also that nonwhite workers tend to experience unemployment rates more than twice those of whites in both recession and boom periods. Until the 19805, women tended to have higher unemployment rates thai, men, but in the last two decades unemployment rates differed little by gender. Teenagers, with high frictional unemployment, have generally’ had unemployment rates much higher than adults.