What Is Frictional Unemployment?
Frictional unemployment is the result of voluntary employment transitions within an economy. Frictional unemployment naturally occurs, even in a growing, stable economy. Workers choosing to leave their jobs in search of new ones and workers entering the workforce for the first time constitute frictional unemployment. It does not include workers who remain in their current job until finding a new one, as, obviously, they are never unemployed.
Frictional unemployment is always present in the economy. It contributes to the overall employment picture and is part of natural unemployment, which is the minimum unemployment rate in an economy due to economic forces and movement of labor. Natural unemployment also reflects the number of workers who are involuntarily unemployed, whether due to a lack of skill or replacement by technology.
Frictional unemployment is the result of employment transitions within an economy.
Frictional unemployment naturally occurs, even in a growing, stable economy.
Workers voluntarily leaving their jobs and new workers entering the workforce both add to frictional unemployment.
Understanding Frictional Unemployment
The frictional unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the workers actively looking for jobs by the total labor force. The workers actively looking for jobs are typically classified into three categories: workers who left their job, people returning to the workforce, and new entrants.
Workers quitting their job to look for better pay adds to frictional unemployment. In other cases workers may resign from their job to go back to school or learn a new skill because they believe they need the skill to earn more income. Others might leave the workforce for personal reasons, such as to care for a family member, sickness, retirement, or pregnancy. When the workers return to the workforce to look for a job, they’re counted as part of frictional unemployment.
Unemployment benefits paid by the government can sometimes lead to frictional unemployment because the income allows workers to be selective in finding their next job, further adding to their time unemployed. It can also occur due to companies abstaining from hiring because they believe there are not enough qualified individuals available for the job.
Frictional unemployment is actually beneficial because it is a sign that workers are voluntarily seeking better positions, providing businesses with a wider array of qualified potential employees.
Advantages of Frictional Unemployment
Frictional unemployment always exists in an economy with a free-moving labor force and is actually beneficial because it’s an indicator that individuals are seeking better positions by choice. It also helps businesses because it gives them a wider selection of potentially highly qualified candidates applying for positions. It is short term and thus does not place much of a drain on government resources.
Frictional unemployment is reduced by quickly matching prospective job seekers with job openings. Thanks to the internet, workers can use social media and job-posting websites to search for jobs, which can lead to quicker turnaround times in getting hired.