Recognizing the True Categories of Unemployment in Present-Day America

Economists have long-decided that the overall “unemployment rate” can actually be broken down into three sub-categories:

Cyclical Unemployment: Cyclical unemployment is the kind of which most of us think when we hear the word “unemployment.”   This type of unemployment refers to that which results from the natural cycle of job growth and loss based on the health of the overall economy.

Structural Unemployment: Structural unemployment refers to the job loss that occurs when workers in a given field, or who possess a given set of skills, are not in demand, and/or when a particular career field cannot find suitable workers because they lack appropriate skills or training.  For example, a person who specializes in repairing tape recorders will likely find himself out of work due to the technological evolution of digital recorders.        

Frictional Unemployment: Frictional unemployment is the kind that results from what is considered the normal, optional behavior of a people in an otherwise viable economy; personal decisions to leave one job for another, decisions to leave one geographical area for another, etc.  Frictional unemployment will always be with us, and it is the reason that a 0% unemployment rate will never exist, despite however healthy a given economy might be.  

Are these sub-categories really enough, though?  Is it possible to justify the addition of others?

How about:

Entitlement Unemployment: Those people who, through a pattern of government-based enablement that has been prosecuted through many decades of propaganda and vote-pandering, have simply decided that it is the job of government to care for them and provide for their needs.

Stupidity Unemployment: Have you met some of the more recent so-called high school graduates running around the countryside these days?  There was a time when all who legitimately graduated high school possessed functional, academic skills that allowed them to think and communicate at a level that qualified them to work and achieve at the entry levels of countless numbers of worthwhile jobs and career fields.  Now?  Not so much…to say the least.       

Faux College Unemployment: These are the folks who really had no business attending college in the first place, but bought, literally, into the notion that a degree was a ticket to viable, professional success.  Too many of these well-meaning people have burdened themselves with astronomical amounts of debt, pursuing unimpressive degrees at even more unimpressive institutions, and have diplomas in hand that have little in common with the academic integrity and usefulness of those earned by students from past generations.      

Geographically Static Unemployment: This category includes those people who see jobs and opportunities leave their present locales, but who mystifyingly decide to stay put, despite their ability to leave, and instead choose to hope and pray for better days.  They are unwilling to pack up and go to where the jobs are, and opt to just hang out because they really like their neighborhoods, really like the schools their kids attend, or for any of a variety of other reasons that have nothing to do with basic survival.

Let me be clear: The overriding cause of present-day unemployment in this country remains a punitive corporate tax rate that discourages expansion, as well as a variety of unfortunate policies and outlooks, both corporate and governmental, that encourage the shipment of domestic jobs overseas.  That said, it’s a gross exaggeration to proclaim that there are no jobs here, and I’m hearing from more and more business owners that they are unable to fill positions for reasons that have as much to do with the latter four cited here as with the first three noted. 

Ultimately, the matter of employment is not quite so easy to stereotype, and complicating factors…including those that are anything but politically correct…will have to be recognized in order for us to look at the totality of our economic quagmire as honestly as possible. 

2 thoughts on “Recognizing the True Categories of Unemployment in Present-Day America

  1. DR,Challenging elected ofciaifls in the media seems to have little effect because they are propped up by the resources of the special interests that you rail against every day. You can fill an hour a day banging the drum with economists, journalists and commentators to drive home the point, but to what end? Until the representatives of the corporations in Washington are voted out of office in favor of representatives of the people, nothing will change. Incumbents have a huge advantage based on name recognition and the lack of credibility of ‘unknown’ challengers. You have a platform. You can use it to support challengers willing to run against incumbents from the corporatocracy. Economists, journalists and commentators can help you make the argument, but we need candidates to drive real change. By providing a platform for challengers to establish name recognition and present their views, you can help them gain credibility and give them a real chance against the Democratic and Republican political machines. Start Now.


  2. Ok Dylan I’ll give you credit for hniavg posted yesterdays comment. I guess you’re hoping you’re bosses don’t read it. Anyway, tagging along with the 19 reasons blog is this key difference that is underreported about our economy. The nature of our economy has changed because the loss of manufacturing jobs means we are less able to recover from recessions. In the past the economy could ramp up and rehire more quickly because in manufacturing all you’d have to do is add extra shifts. The capital and fixed costs are already bought and paid for. Service related businesses are different because in service businesses one has to dedicate a lot of capital in order to expand the work force. Also it’s far easier to replace employees with technology during an expansion. Therefore less demand for labor.


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