In industrialized countries in which most people can earn a living only by working for others, being unable to find a job is a serious problem. Because of its human costs in deprivation and a feeling of rejection and personal failure, the extent of unemployment is widely used as a measure of workers' welfare. The proportion of workers unemployed also shows how well a nation's human resources are used and serves as an index of economic activity. Economists have described the types of unemployment as frictional, structural, and cyclical.
The first form of unemployment is Frictional unemployment. Frictional unemployment arises because workers seeking jobs do not find them immediately. While looking for work they are counted as unemployed. The amount of frictional unemployment depends on the frequency with which workers change jobs and the time it takes to find new ones. Job changes occur often in the United States. A January 1983 survey showed that more than 25 percent of all workers had been with their current employers one year or less. About a quarter of those unemployed at any particular time are employed one month later. This means that a considerable degree of unemployment in the United States is frictional and lasts only a short time. This type of unemployment could be reduced somewhat by more efficient placement services. When workers are free to quit their jobs, some frictional unemployment will always be present.
The second form of Unemployment is structural unemployment. Structural unemployment arises from an imbalance between the kinds of workers wanted by employers and the kinds of workers looking for jobs. The imbalances may be caused by inadequacy in skills, location, or personal characteristics. Technological developments, necessitate new skills in many industries, leaving those workers who have outdated skills without a job. A plant in a declining industry may close down or move to another area, throwing out of work...
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