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Unemployment: brief study

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  1. Introduction
  2. Unemployment
  3. Correct the Structural Unemployment
  4. Use the Government as Employer of Last Resort
  5. Conclusion

It seems unlikely that we return to suffer the 25% unemployment of the Great Depression. We learned that the government spending - a means of generating demand that was unthinkable in the early 1930s - can stimulate a depressed economy and restore the high level of employment. The experience of World War II was decisive in this respect; so, it is doubtful that we will tolerate again the trauma of mass unemployment.

But unemployment can be a cruel and difficult problem, even if it does not reach massive proportions. In the United States, throughout the 1970s, the 7% unemployment rate would not be a terrible social burden if it were shared equally by all members of the workforce; would correspond to about two weeks of unemployment per person.

But is that unemployment is never shared equally. Typically, it affects and afflicts some more severely than other groups. Women suffer unemployment rates that are 30% to 40% higher than those of men. Blacks are twice as unemployed than whites. Teenagers experience an unemployment which is four to five times higher than among adults.

[...] When it starts coming out of a recession, the additional expenditure raises prices more visibly than cure unemployment. The perceived benefits of expenditure (inflation) increase. Thus, massive spending programs have limited usefulness in the elimination of unemployment. Second, expenditure programs can not create jobs for the groups that are most seriously affected by unemployment. A typical problem of our times is the concentration of unemployment in urban ghettos. But an expenditure program - or a private expansion of demand - will not reach the ghetto, where usually does not recruit industry its workforce. [...]


[...] The question then arises: what jobs the unemployed will be trained? The risk is that a retraining program to prepare workers for jobs that may no longer exist when they are able to fill them. Most economists suggest a combination of measures to combat structural unemployment. One is a much more effective system for obtaining employment; for it was proposed to create a bank of computer jobs. Another is a more generous program of unemployment benefits to give people time to seek the job they want, rather than force them to accept any job. [...]

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