Austrian Theory and Economic Organization: Reaching Beyond by Guinevere Liberty Nell (auth.)

By Guinevere Liberty Nell (auth.)

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Beveridge [1944] 1945: 24) Beveridge’s principal concern is the standard Keynesian worry about suff ficient aggregate demand, often referred to today as the “output gap,” which is tied with considerable statistical regularity to the level of unemployment. Next he notes the concerns with which he is personally most closely identified: mismatches between the kind of labor supplied and demanded in a given region that interrupts the search process. Finally, he expresses the labor surplus view by referencing a build-up of “excess” workers.

In a Beveridge-Hutt labor market, unemployment can still emerge in equilibrium even when search itself is understood as a rational, equilibrium phenomenon. The Output Gap The labor surplus view as rendered by Pigou, and the attending recommendation that wages must fall to achieve full employment, came under substantial criticism by Pigou’s colleague at Cambridge, John Maynard Keynes. Keynes’s counter-argument opened, or at least repopularized, another alternative to the labor surplus account of unemployment: a demand shortfall.

The BLS definition of unemployment, which is the metric that makes headlines and moves elections, is broader than the labor surplus concept of unemployment that is casually (and in some cases formally) of interest to economists. The critical feature of this definition is that it can emerge when labor markets clear; when the supply of labor is equal to the demand for labor and there is no labor surplus. The CPS does not ask respondents about the wage they would be willing to work for and classifies workers as unemployed regardless of whether their reservation wage (the lowest wage a worker would be willing to accept) is higher than the prevailing market wage.

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