Economic Policy and the Global Environment

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Most economists agree that high levels of unemployment are costly not only to the individuals and families directly affected, but also to local and regional economies and the economy as a whole. We can make a distinction between the economic costs arising from people out of work and the social costs that often result. Lost output of goods and services Unemployment causes a waste of scarce economic resources and reduces the long run growth potential of the economy. An economy with high unemployment is producing within its production possibility frontier. The hours that the unemployed do not work can never be recovered. But if unemployment can be reduced, total national output can rise leading to an improvement in economic welfare. Fiscal costs to the government High unemployment has an impact on government expenditure, taxation and the level of government borrowing each year An increase in unemployment results in higher benefit payments and lower tax revenues. When individuals are unemployed, not only do they receive benefits but also pay no income tax. As they are spending less they contribute less to the government in indirect taxes. This rise in government spending along with the fall in tax revenues may result in a higher government borrowing requirement (known as a public sector net cash requirement) Deadweight loss of investment in human capital Unemployment wastes some of the scarce resources used in training workers. Furthermore, workers who are unemployed for long periods become de-skilled as their skills become increasingly dated in a rapidly changing job market. This reduces their chances of gaining employment in the future, which in turn increases the economic burden on government and society. See the revision page on long term unemployment SOCIAL COSTS OF UNEMPLOYMENT Rising unemployment is linked to social and economic deprivation - there is some relationship between rising unemployment and rising crime and worsening social dislocation (increased...
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