Unemployment (or joblessness) occurs when people are without work and actively seeking work. The unemployment rate is a measure of the prevalence of unemployment and it is calculated as a percentage by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently in the labor force. During periods of recession, an economy usually experiences a relatively high unemployment rate. In a 2011 news story, BusinessWeek reported, "More than 200 million people globally are out of work, a record high, as almost two-thirds of advanced economies and half of developing countries are experiencing a slowdown in employment growth".
There remains considerable theoretical debate regarding the causes, consequences and solutions for unemployment. Classical economics, New classical economics, and the Austrian School of economics argue that market mechanisms are reliable means of resolving unemployment. These theories argue against interventions imposed on the labor market from the outside, such as unionization, minimum wage laws, taxes, and other regulations that they claim discourage the hiring of workers. Keynesian economics emphasizes the cyclical nature of unemployment and recommends interventions it claims will reduce unemployment during recessions. This theory focuses on recurrent shocks that suddenly reduce aggregate demand for goods and services and thus reduce demand for workers. Keynesian models recommend government interventions designed to increase demand for workers; these can include financial stimuli, publicly funded job creation, and expansionist monetary policies.
In addition to these comprehensive theories of unemployment, there are a few categorizations of unemployment that are used to more precisely model the effects of unemployment within the economic system. The main types of unemployment include structural unemployment which focuses on structural problems in the economy and inefficiencies inherent in labour markets including a mismatch between the supply and demand of laborers with necessary skill sets. Structural arguments emphasize causes and solutions related to disruptive technologies and globalization. Discussions of frictional unemployment focus on voluntary decisions to work based on each individuals' valuation of their own work and how that compares to current wage rates plus the time and effort required to find a job. Causes and solutions for frictional unemployment often address barriers to entry and wage rates. Behavioral economists highlight individual biases in decision making and often involve problems and solutions concerning sticky wages and efficiency wages.
Famous quotes containing the words work and/or unemployment:
“Obvious enough that generalities work to protect the mind from the great outdoors; is it possible that this was in fact their first purpose?”
—Howard Nemerov (19201991)
“Give a scientist a problem and he will probably provide a solution; historians and sociologists, by contrast, can offer only opinions. Ask a dozen chemists the composition of an organic compound such as methane, and within a short time all twelve will have come up with the same solution of CH4. Ask, however, a dozen economists or sociologists to provide policies to reduce unemployment or the level of crime and twelve widely differing opinions are likely to be offered.”
—Derek Gjertsen, British scientist, author. Science and Philosophy: Past and Present, ch. 3, Penguin (1989)