1. The unemployment rate isn’t the same for all industries. Some industries are doing better than the overall average, some industries are doing worse. Take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on unemployment by industry. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t14.htm )Which categories of workers had the lowest unemployment rates? Which categories saw the greatest drop in unemployment rates since DEC 2016? Which categories of workers had the greatest INCREASE in the unemployment rate compared to DEC 2016? What might explain these trends?
2. The type of unemployment (frictional, structural, or cyclical) the economy is experiencing tells government what types of policies might be most useful in solving the problem. So what type of unemployment are we experiencing now? Check out the current unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf). What’s the current US unemployment rate? The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development defines full employment — the unemployment rate when there is NO cyclical unemployment — at 4% to 6%. Based on that, is the US experiencing cyclical unemployment? What kind of government policies would help reduce cyclical unemployment?
What percentage of the people who are unemployed have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more? Has this changed from the previous month? Based on this, is the US experiencing structural unemployment? What kind of government policies would help reduce structural unemployment?
3. The US labor force, population, and unemployment rate in January 2013 were as follows: Labor Force 155,825,000 Population 315,079,109 Unemployment rate 8.0% Based on these figures: (a) How many people were unemployed? (b) How many more jobs would be required to push the unemployment rate down to 5%? (c) According to Okun’s Law, how much would GDP have to increase (in percentage) in order to create enough jobs to push the unemployment rate down to 5%? You can only find the percentage change needed from this information.
4. Are we experiencing inflation now? Check out the current Consumer Price Index (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf) . What’s the current rate of inflation over the past 12 months? The Federal Reserve has a stated goal to keep the economy at around 2% inflation. How does the current inflation rate compare with the Federal Reserve’s target rate? In January 2018 a federal tax cut went into effect which reduced tax withholdings and increased take-home pay for many workers. How might that affect the rate of inflation in the coming months?
5. How fast is the US economy growing? Check out the latest news release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis(https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm).
What’s the current dollar GDP reported in this news release? What is the reported growth rate? What is the real GDP growth rate reported here? Why is it lower? What’s the difference between current -dollar or nominal GDP and real GDP?
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