Changes in Unemployment Duration and Labor Force Attachment
This paper accounts for the observed increase in unemployment duration relative to the unemployment rate in the U.S. over the past thirty years, typified by the record low level of short-term unemployment. We show that part of the increase is due to changes in how duration is measured, a consequence of the 1994 Current Population Survey redesign. Another part is due to the passage of the baby boomers into their prime working years. After accounting for these shifts, most of the remaining increase in unemployment duration relative to the unemployment rate is concentrated among women, whose unemployment rate has fallen sharply in the last two decades while their unemployment duration has increased. Using labor market transition data, we show that this is a consequence of the increase in women's labor force attachment.