Underemployment definition and index

Definition: Underemployment is defined as a situation where people are working fewer hours than they wish; e.g. you would like to work 40 hours a week, but the firm only gives you 30 hours. Underemployment may also refer to the fact workers accept jobs that don’t utilise their skills. e.g. graduate working in McDonald’s may be considered to be ‘under-employed’) Underemployment in UK According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 2.8 million workers in Britain who are working fewer hours than they would like (link). This could include people…

Supply Side Policies for Reducing Unemployment

Supply Side Policies for Reducing Unemployment

To what extent can supply side policies reduce unemployment? To try and reduce unemployment, the government can provide interventionist supply-side policies, such as better training and education or it can try free-market policies, such as increasing labour market flexibility. However, there is a limit because supply-side policies are ineffective in dealing with cyclical (demand-deficient unemployment) Examples of interventionist supply-side policies to reduce unemployment Better education and training. This provides skills which will help the long-term unemployed to retrain and find jobs in a fast-changing labour market. This can help reduce structural unemployment….


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. Background to devaluation of 1967 The government pursued an exchange rate peg of £1 to $2.80. A strong Pound was seen as important for maintaining living standards and providing an incentive for manufacturers to increase productivity…

Definition of Full Employment

Definition of Full Employment

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…


Cyclical Unemployment

  Definition – Cyclical Unemployment is unemployment due to a period of negative economic growth, or economic slowdown. In a recession, cyclical unemployment will tend to rise sharply. Peaks in unemployment correspond with swings in the economic cycle. Recessions of 1981,1991/92 and 2008/09 Why unemployment rises in a recession If there are fewer orders for goods, firms produce less and therefore there is less demand for workers. Negative multiplier effects. If firms are producing less, then there will be less demand for related industries,…

Low economic growth and unemployment

Low economic growth and unemployment

Readers Question: Why is it that when there is low economic growth, unemployment rises? A low rate of economic growth can cause higher unemployment. Though it is not always the case. During 2010-13 the UK experienced a slow rate of economic growth, but unexpectedly unemployment fell. If there is negative economic growth (recession) we would definitely expect unemployment to rise. This is because: If there is less demand for goods, firms will produce less and so will need fewer workers. In a recession, some firms will go bankrupt making many people…


The True Level of Unemployment in UK

Readers Question: To what extent do the official UK figures for unemployment accurately reflect economic reality? Summary The government publish two unemployment statistics – the Claimant count and Labour Force Survey. The Labour Force survey asks 60,000 people whether they are actively seeking work. The claimant count is the number of those receiving job seekers allowance. The labour force is a better guide to unemployment because the claimant count only includes those eligible for benefits. Another factor to consider is the extent of disguised unemployment. This is when people are not counted as…

Historical Unemployment Rates

UK unemployment rates since 1881.   This shows the fluctuations in unemployment over the past 100 years in the UK. Measuring unemployment is not a precise science. This data mostly relies on administrative statistics on the number claiming some kind of unemployment insurance. The government is changing how unemployment is measured. You can view the pdf for more detail on changing methodology of unemployment. Explaining the change in unemployment Cyclical…