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Three-and-a-Half Million U.S. Employees Have Been Mislaid: Or, an Explanation of Unemployment, 1934-1941

Michael R. Darby
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 84, No. 1 (Feb., 1976), pp. 1-16
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1830168
Page Count: 16
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Three-and-a-Half Million U.S. Employees Have Been Mislaid: Or, an Explanation of Unemployment, 1934-1941
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Abstract

A major conceptual error in the standard BLS and Lebergott unemployment estimates for 1930-43 is reported. Emergency workers (employees of government contracyclical programs such as WPA) were counted as unemployed on a normal-jobs-to-be-created instead of job-seekers unemployment definition. For 1933-41, the corrected unemployment levels are reduced by 2-3.5 million people and the rates by 4-7 percentage points. The corrected data show strong movement toward the natural unemployment rate after 1933 and are very well explained by an anticipations-search model using annual full-time earnings.

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