NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Measuring Labor-Force Participation and the Incidence and Duration of Unemployment

Hie Joo Ahn, James D. Hamilton

NBER Working Paper No. 27394
Issued in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies, Monetary Economics

The underlying data from which the U.S. unemployment rate, labor-force participation rate, and duration of unemployment are calculated contain numerous internal contradictions. This paper catalogs these inconsistencies and proposes a unified reconciliation. We find that the usual statistics understate the unemployment rate and the labor-force participation rate by about two percentage points on average and that the bias in the latter has increased over time. The BLS estimate of the average duration of unemployment substantially overstates the true duration of uninterrupted spells of unemployment and misrepresents what happened to average durations during the Great Recession and its recovery.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27394

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us