The Misery Index


The misery index (sometimes known as the Economic Discomfort Index EDI ) is simply the sum of the inflation rate plus the unemployment rate. The higher the combined score, the worse the economic situation. The Misery index was developed by economist Arthur Okun. Where Unemployment rate (ut) and the current inflation rate (πt) High unemployment …

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The True Level of Unemployment in UK


Readers Question: To what extent do the official UK figures for unemployment accurately reflect economic reality? The unemployment rate measures those who are officially seeking work but unable to find employment. However, the official unemployment rate does not include those who are not working and are classed as economically inactive. For example, economically inactive can …

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Structural unemployment

Definition: Structural unemployment is caused by a mismatch of skills between the unemployed and available jobs. Structural unemployed is caused by changes in the economy, such as deindustrialisation, which leaves some unemployed workers unable to find work in new industries with different skill requirements. Structural unemployment occurs even during periods of strong economic growth. It …

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UK Devaluation of Sterling 1967


In 1967, the UK government of Harold Wilson devalued the Pound from $2.80 to $2.40 (a devaluation of 14%). It was a major political event because the government had tried hard to avoid a devaluation, but felt forced into the decision because of a trade deficit, a weak domestic economy and external pressures from creditors. …

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Definition of Full Employment

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Readers Question: explain how economists define ‘full employment’?

The first definition of full employment would be the situation where everyone willing to work at the going wage rate is able to get a job.

This would imply that unemployment is zero because if you are not willing to work then you should not be counted as unemployed. To be classified as unemployed you would need to be actively seeking work. This does not mean everyone of working age is in employment. Some adults may leave the labour force, for example, women looking after children.

But, in practice, we never see 0% unemployment, and this can make full employment hard to define. Generally, an unemployment rate of 3% or less would be considered to be full employment.

Optimal Unemployment Level

Another definition of full employment would be the ‘optimal’ level of unemployment. In practice, an economy will never have zero unemployment because there is inevitably some frictional unemployment. This is the unemployment where people take time to find the best job for them. Frictional unemployment is not necessarily a bad thing. It is better people take time to find a job suitable for their skill level, rather than get the first job that comes along. Generally, you may expect frictional unemployment to cause an unemployment rate of 2-3%. Therefore, some economists may claim that unemployment of less than 3% indicates ‘full employment’ – or at least very close.

Full Employment and Full Capacity

Another way to think of full employment is when the economy is operating at an output level considered to be at full capacity. i.e. it is not possible to increase real output because all resources are fully utilised. This would be a point on a production possibility frontier. It can also be shown in an AD/AS diagram.

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Definition of Unemployment


Unemployment is defined as a situation where someone of working age is not able to get a job but would like to be in full-time employment. Note: If a mother left work to bring up a child or if someone went into higher education, they are not working but would not be classed as unemployed …

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Should low inflation be the primary objective of economic policy?

The UK government has given the Bank of England an inflation target of CPI 2 % +/-1. The Bank of England is responsible for using monetary policy (e.g. interest rates)  to achieve this goal of low inflation. But, as well as targeting inflation, the Bank of England also has a wider remit of considering objectives …

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Does Fiscal Policy solve unemployment?


Readers Question: Is the fiscal policy effective/the best policy to deal with unemployment? It is an interesting question and one that is likely to generate different views from within the ranks of economists. To give a very rough overview: Keynesians say yes, fiscal policy can be effective in reducing unemployment. In a recession, expansionary fiscal policy …

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