Employment and Unemployment
Why Unemployment Is a Problem
Unemployment results in
Lost incomes and production
Lost human capital
The loss of income is devastating for those who bear it. Unemployment benefits
create a safety net but don’t fully replace lost wages, and not everyone receives
Prolonged unemployment permanently damages a person’s job prospects by
destroying human capital.
Labour Force Survey
Every month, Statistics Canada conducts a Labour Force Survey in which it asks
The population is divided into two groups:
1. The working-age population—the number of people aged 15 years and older
who are not in institutional care
2. People too young to work (under 15 years of age) or in institutional care
The working-age population is divided into two groups:
1. People in the labour force
2. People not in the labour force
The labour force is the sum of employed and unemployed workers.
To be counted as unemployed, a person must be in one of the following three
1. Without work but has made specific efforts to find a job within the previous four
2. Waiting to be called back to a job from which he or she has been laid off
3. Waiting to start a new job within four weeks
Four Labour Market Indicators
The unemployment rate
Involuntary part-time rate
The labour force participation rate
The employment-to-population ratio The Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate is the percentage of the labour force that is unemployed.
The unemployment rate is
(Number of people unemployed ÷ labour force) 100.
In 2010, the labour force was 18.52 million and 1.48 million were unemployed, so
the unemployment rate was 8 percent.
The unemployment rate increases in a recession and reaches its peak value after the
The Involuntary Part-Time Rate
The involuntary part-time rate is the percentage of the labour force who work
part time but want full-time jobs.
The involuntary part-time rate is
(Number of involuntary part-time workers ÷ Labour force) 100.
In 2010, the 920,000 involuntary part-time workers and the labour force was 18.52
The involuntary part-time rate 5 percent.
The Labour Force Participation Rate
The labour force participation rate is the percentage of the working-age
population who are members of the labour force.
The labour force participation rate is
(Labour force ÷ Working-age population) 100.
In 2010, the labour force was 18.52 million and the working-age population was
The labour force participation rate was 67 percent.
The Employment-to-Population Ratio
The employment-to-population ratio is the percentage of the working-age
population who have jobs.
The employment-to-population ratio is
(Employment ÷ Working-age population) 100.
In 2010, the employment was 17.04 million and the working-age population was
The employment-to-population ratio was 61.6 percent.
Other Definitions of Unemployment
The purpose of the unemployment rate is to measure the underutilization of labour
Statistics Canada believes that the unemployment rate gives a correct measure.
But the official measure is an imperfect measure because it excludes
Marginally attached workers
Part-time workers who want full-time jobs Marginally Attached Workers
A marginally attached worker is a person who currently is neither working nor
looking for work but has indicated that he or she wants and is available for a job and
has looked for work sometime in the recent past.
A discouraged worker is a marginally attached worker who has stopped looking
for a job because of repeated failure to find one.
Part-Time Workers Who Want Full-Time Jobs
Many part-time workers want to work part time, but some part-time workers would
like full-time jobs and can’t find them.
In the official statistics, these workers are called economic part-time workers and
they are partly unemployed.
Most Costly Unemployment
All unemployment is costly, but the most costly is long-term unemployment that
results from job loss.
Unemployment can be classified into three types:
Frictional unemployment is unemployment that arises from normal labour
The creation and destruction of jobs requires that unemployed workers search for
Increases in the number of people entering and reentering the labour force and
increases in unemployment benefits raise frictional unemployment.
Frictional unemployment is a permanent and healthy phenomenon of a growing
Structural unemployment is unemployment created by changes in technology and
foreign competition that change the skills needed to perform jobs or the locations of
Structural unemployment lasts longer than frictional unemployment.
Cyclical unemployment is the higher than normal unemployment at a business
cycle trough and lower than normal unemployment at a business cycle peak.
A worker laid off because the economy is in a recession and is then rehired when the
expansion begins experiences cycle unemployment. “Natural” Unemployment
Natural unemployment is the unemployment that arises from frictions and
structural change when there is no cyclical unemployment.
Natural unemployment is all frictional and structural unemployment.
The natural unemployment rate is natural unemployment as a percentage of
Full employment is defines as the situation in which the unemployment rate equals
the natural unemployment rate.
When the economy is at full employment, there is no cyclical unemployment or,
equivalently, all unemployment is frictional and structural.
The natural unemployment rate changes over time and is influenced by many
Key factors are
The age distribution of the population
The scale of structural change
The real wage rate
Real GDP and Unemployment Over the Cycle
Potential GDP is the quantity of real GDP produc