Natural Rate of Unemployment

The natural rate of unemployment (sometimes called the structural unemployment rate) is a concept of economic activity developed in particular by Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps in the 1960s, both recipients of the Nobel prize in economics. In both cases, the development of the concept is cited as a main motivation behind the prize.[1][2] It represents the hypothetical unemployment rate consistent with aggregate production being at the "long-run" level.

This level is consistent with aggregate production in the absence of various temporary frictions such as incomplete price adjustment in labor and goods markets. The natural rate of unemployment therefore corresponds to the unemployment rate prevailing under a classical view of determination of activity. It is mainly determined by the economy's supply side, and hence production possibilities and economic institutions. If these institutional features involve permanent mismatches in the labor market or real wage rigidities, the natural rate of unemployment may feature involuntary unemployment.

Occurrence of disturbances (e.g., cyclical shifts in investment sentiments) will cause actual unemployment to continuously deviate from the natural rate, and be partly determined by aggregate demand factors as under a Keynesian view of output determination. The policy implication is that the natural rate of unemployment cannot permanently be reduced by demand management policies (including monetary policy), but that such policies can play a role in stabilizing variations in actual unemployment.[3] Reductions in the natural rate of unemployment must, according to the concept, be achieved through structural policies directed towards an economy's supply side.

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