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After dropping in 2020, teen summer employment may be poised to continue its slow comeback.

Last summer, businesses trying to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic hired nearly a million more teens than in the summer of 2020.

Most in the U.S. say young adults today face more challenges than their parents’ generation in some key areas

About seven-in-ten say young adults today have a harder time when it comes to saving for the future, paying for college and buying a home.

Some gender disparities widened in the U.S. workforce during the pandemic

Among adults 25 and older who have no education beyond high school, more women have left the labor force than men.

Immigrants in U.S. experienced higher unemployment in the pandemic but have closed the gap

With the economic recovery gaining momentum, unemployment among immigrants is about equal with that of U.S.-born workers.

During the pandemic, teen summer employment hit its lowest point since the Great Recession

Fewer than a third (30.8%) of U.S. teens had a paying job last summer. In 2019, 35.8% of teens worked over the summer.

College graduates in the year of COVID-19 experienced a drop in employment, labor force participation

The challenges of a COVID-19 economy are clear for 2020 college graduates, who have experienced downturns in employment and labor force participation.

U.S. labor market inches back from the COVID-19 shock, but recovery is far from complete

Here’s how the COVID-19 recession is affecting labor force participation and unemployment among American workers a year after its onset.

Long-term unemployment has risen sharply in U.S. amid the pandemic, especially among Asian Americans

About four-in-ten unemployed workers had been out of work for more than six months in February 2021, about double the share in February 2020.

A Year Into the Pandemic, Long-Term Financial Impact Weighs Heavily on Many Americans

About a year since the coronavirus recession began, there are some signs of improvement in the U.S. labor market, and Americans are feeling somewhat better about their personal finances than they were early in the pandemic.

Unemployed Americans are feeling the emotional strain of job loss; most have considered changing occupations

About half of U.S. adults who are currently unemployed and are looking for a job are pessimistic about their prospects for future employment.


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Unemployment in the time of COVID-19: A research agenda ☆

David l. blustein.

a Boston College, United States of America

b University of Florida, United States of America

Joaquim A. Ferreira

c University of Coimbra, Portugal

Valerie Cohen-Scali

d Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, France

Rachel Gali Cinamon

e University of Tel Aviv, Israel

Blake A. Allan

f Purdue University, United States of America

This essay represents the collective vision of a group of scholars in vocational psychology who have sought to develop a research agenda in response to the massive global unemployment crisis that has been evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research agenda includes exploring how this unemployment crisis may differ from previous unemployment periods; examining the nature of the grief evoked by the parallel loss of work and loss of life; recognizing and addressing the privilege of scholars; examining the inequality that underlies the disproportionate impact of the crisis on poor and working class communities; developing a framework for evidence-based interventions for unemployed individuals; and examining the work-family interface and unemployment among youth.

This essay reflects the collective input from members of a community of vocational psychologists who share an interest in psychology of working theory and related social-justice oriented perspectives ( Blustein, 2019 ; Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, & Autin, 2016 ). Each author of this article has contributed a specific set of ideas, which individually and collectively reflect some promising directions for research about the rampant unemployment that sadly defines this COVID-19 crisis.

Our efforts cohere along several assumptions and values. First, we share a view that unemployment has devastating effects on the psychological, economic, and social well-being of individuals and communities ( Blustein, 2019 ). Second, we seek to build on the exemplary research on unemployment that has documented its impact on mental health ( Paul & Moser, 2009 ; Wanberg, 2012 ) and its equally pernicious impact on communities ( International Labor Organization, 2020b ). Third, we hope that this contribution charts a research agenda that will inform practice at individual and systemic levels to support and sustain people as they grapple with the daunting challenge of seeking work and recovering from the psychological and vocational fallout of this pandemic.

The advent of this period of global unemployment is connected causally and temporally to considerable loss of life and illness, which is creating an intense level of grief and trauma for many people. The first step in developing a research agenda for unemployment during the COVID-19 era is to describe the nature of this process of loss in so many critical sectors of life. A major research question, therefore, is to what extent does this unemployment crisis vary from previous bouts of unemployment which were linked to economic fluctuations? In addition, exploring the role of loss and trauma during this crisis should yield research findings that can inform psychological and vocational interventions as well as policy guidance to support people via civic institutions and communities.

1. Recognizing and channeling our own privilege

In Joe Pinker's (2020) Atlantic essay entitled, “ The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two”, he highlights two distinct experiences of the pandemic. One is an experience felt by those with high levels of education in stable jobs where telework is possible. Lives are now more stressful, work has been turned upside down, childcare is challenging, and leaving the house feels ominous. The other is an experience felt by the rest of the working public – those who cannot work from home and thus are putting themselves at risk every day, whose jobs have been either lost or downsized, and who are wondering not only if they will catch the virus but whether they have the means and resources to survive. As psychologists and professors, the vast majority of “us” (those writing this essay and those reading it) are extremely fortunate to be in the first group. The pandemic has only served to exacerbate the extent of this privilege.

Given our relative position of power, what are ways we can change our research to be more meaningful and impactful to those outside of our bubble? We propose that the recent work on radical healing in communities of color – where the research is often done in collaboration with the participants and building participant agency is an explicit goal - can inform our path forward ( French et al., 2020 ; Mosley et al., 2020 ). Work has always been a domain where individuals experience distress and marginalization. However, in the current pandemic and into the unforeseeable future, this will only exponentially increase. Sure, we can do surveys about people's experiences and provide incentives for their time. And of course qualitative work will allow us to more directly connect with participants and hear their voices. But what is most needed is research where participants receive tangible benefits to improve their work lives. We, as privileged scholars, need to think about how we can use our expertise in studying work to infuse our studies with real world benefits. We see this as occurring on a spectrum in terms of scholars' time and resources available – from information sharing about resources to providing job-seeking or work-related interventions. In our view, now is the time to truly commit to using work-related research not just as a way to build scholarly knowledge, but as a way to improve lives.

2. Inequality and unemployment

Focusing research efforts on real-world benefits means acknowledging how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing inequities in the labor market. Millions of workers in the U.S. have precarious jobs that are uncertain in the continuity and amount of work, do not pay a living wage, do not give workers power to advocate for their needs, or do not provide access to basic benefits ( Kalleberg, 2009 ). Power and privilege are major determinants of who is at risk for precarious work, with historically marginalized communities being disproportionately vulnerable to these job conditions ( International Labor Organization, 2020a ). In turn, people with precarious work experience chronic stress and uncertainty, putting them at risk for mental health, physical, and relational problems ( Blustein, 2019 ). These risk factors may further worsen the effects of the COVID-19 crisis while simultaneously exposing inequities that existed before the crises.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for researchers to define and describe how precarious work creates physical, relational, behavioral, psychological, economic, and emotional vulnerabilities that worsen outcomes from crises like the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., unemployment, psychological distress). For example, longitudinal studies can examine how precarious work creates vulnerabilities in different domains, which in turn predict outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, including unemployment and mental health. This may include larger scale cohort studies that examine how the COVID-19 crisis has created a generation of precarity among people undergoing the school-to-work transition. Researchers can also study how governmental and nonprofit interventions reduce vulnerability and buffer the relations between precarious work and various outcomes. For example, direct cash assistance is becoming increasingly popular as an efficient way to help people in poverty ( Evans & Popova, 2014 ). However, dominant social narratives (e.g., the myth of meritocracy, the American dream) blame people with poor quality work for their situations. Psychologists have a critical role in (a) documenting false social narratives, (b) studying interventions to provide accurate counter narratives (e.g., people who receive direct cash assistance do not spend money on alcohol or drugs; most people who need assistance are working; Evans & Popova, 2014 ), and (c) studying how to effectively change attitudes among the public to create support for effective interventions.

3. Work-family interface

Investigating the work-family interface during unemployment may appear contradictory. It can be argued that because there is no paid work, the work-family interface does not exist. But ‘work’ is an integral part of people's lives, even during unemployment; for example, working to find a job is a daunting task that is usually done from home. Thus, the work-family interface also exists during unemployment, but our knowledge about this is limited. Our current knowledge on the work-family interface primarily focuses on people who work full-time and usually among working parents with young children ( Cinamon, 2018 ). As such, focusing on the work-family interface during periods of unemployment represents a needed research agenda that can inform public policy and scholarship in work-family relationships.

The rise in unemployment due to COVID-19 relates not only to the unemployed, but also to other family members. Important research questions to consider are how are positive and negative feelings and thoughts about the absence of work conveyed and co-constructed by family members? What family behaviors and dynamics promote and serve as social capital for the unemployed and for the other members of the family? Do job search behaviors serve as a form of modeling for other family members? What are the experiences of unemployed spouses and children, and how do these experiences shape their own career development? These issues can be discerned among unemployed people of different ages, communities, and cultures.

Several research methods can promote this agenda. Participatory action research can enable vocational researchers to be proactive and involved in increasing social solidarity. This approach requires mutual collaboration between the researcher and families wherein one of the parents is unemployed. By giving them voice to describe their experiences, thoughts, ideas, and suggested solutions, we affirm inclusion of the individuals living through the new reality, thereby conveying respect and acknowledgment. At the same time, we can bring ideas, knowledge, and social connections to the families that can serve as social capital. In addition, longitudinal quantitative studies among unemployed families that explore some of the issues noted above would be important as a means of exploring how the new unemployment experience is shaping both work and relationships. We also advocate that meaningful incentives be offered to participants in all of these studies, such as online job search workshops and career education interventions for adolescents.

4. Strategies for dealing with unemployment in the pandemic of 2020

Forward-looking governments and organizations (such as universities) should begin thinking about how to deal with the immediate and long-term consequences of the economic crisis created by COVID-19, especially in the area of unemployment. Creating meaningful interventions to assist the newly unemployed will be difficult because of the unprecedented number of individuals and families that are affected and because of the diverse contextual and personal factors that characterize this new population. Because of this diversity of contextual and personal factors, different interventions will be required for different patterns of individual/contextual characteristics ( Ferreira et al., 2015 ).

In broad outline, a research program to address the diversity of issues identified above could be envisioned to consist of several distinct phases: First, it would be necessary to carefully assess the external circumstances of the unemployed individual's job loss, including the probability of re-employment, financial condition, family composition, and living conditions, among others. Second, an assessment should be made of the individual's strengths and growth edges, particularly as they impact the current situation. These assessments could be performed via paper or online questionnaire. Based on these initial assessments, the third phase would involve using statistical analyses such as cluster analysis to form distinct groups of unemployed individuals, perhaps based in part on the probability of re-employment following the pandemic. The fourth phase would focus on determining the types (and/or combinations) of intervention most appropriate for each group (e.g., temporary government assistance; emotional support counseling; retraining for better future job prospects; relocation, etc.). Because access to specific types of assistance is frequently a serious challenge, especially for underprivileged individuals, the fifth phase should emphasize facilitating individuals' access to the specific assistance they need. Finally, the sixth phase of research should evaluate the efficacy of this approach, although designing such a large research program in a crisis situation requires ongoing process evaluation throughout the design and implementation stages of the research program.

5. Unemployment among youth

As reflected in a recent International Labor Organization (2020a) report on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, youth were already vulnerable within the workforce prior to the crisis; the recent advent of massive job losses and growing precarity of work is having particularly painful impacts on young people across the globe. The COVID-19 economic crisis with vast increases in unemployment (and competition between workers) and the probable growth of digitalization may result in a major dislocation of young workers from the labor market for some time ( International Labor Organization, 2020b ). To provide knowledge to meet this daunting challenge, researchers should develop an agenda focusing on two major components—the first is a participatory mode of understanding the experience of youth and the second is the development of evidence-based interventions that are derived from this research process.

The data gathering aspect of this research agenda optimally should focus on understanding unemployed youths' perception of their situation (opportunities, barriers, fears, and intentions) and of the new labor market. We propose that research is needed to unpack how youth are constructing this new reality, their relationship to society, to others, and to the world. This crisis may have changed their priorities, the meaning of work, and their lifestyle. For example, this crisis may have led to an awareness of the necessity of developing more environmentally responsible behaviors ( Cohen-Scali et al., 2018 ). These new life styles could result in skills development and increased autonomy and adaptability among young people. In addition, the focus on understanding youths' experience, which can encompass qualitative and quantitative methods, should also include explorations of shifts in youths' sense of identity and purpose, which may be dramatically affected by the crisis. The young people who are without work should be involved at each step of the research process in order to improve their capacities, knowledge, and agency and to ensure that the research is designed from their lived experiences.

Building on these research efforts, interventions may be designed that include individual counseling strategies as well as systemic interventions based on analyses of the communities in which young people are involved (for example, families and couples and not only individuals). In addition, we need more research to learn about the process of collective empowerment and critical consciousness development, which can inform youths' advocacy efforts and serve as a buffer in their career development ( Blustein, 2019 ).

6. Conclusion

The research ideas presented in this contribution have been offered as a means of stimulating needed scholarship, program development, and advocacy efforts. Naturally, these ideas are not intended to be exhaustive. We hope that readers will find ideas and perspectives in our essay that may stimulate a broad-based research agenda for our field, optimally informing transformative interventions and needed policy interventions for individuals and communities suffering from the loss of work (and loss of loved ones in this pandemic). A common thread in our essay is the recommendation that research efforts be constructed from the lived experiences of the individuals who are now out of work. As we have noted here, their experiences may not be similar to other periods of extensive unemployment, which argues strongly for experience-near, participatory research. We are also advocating for the use of rigorous quantitative methods to develop new understanding of the nature of unemployment during this period and to develop and assess interventions. In addition, we would like to advocate that the collective scholarly efforts of our community include incentives and outcomes that support unemployed individuals. For example, online workshops and resources can be shared with participants and other communities as a way of not just dignifying their participation, but of also providing tangible support during a crisis.

In closing, we are humbled by the stories that we hear from our communities about the job loss of this pandemic period. Our authorship team shares a deep commitment to research that matters; in this context, we believe that our work now matters more than we can imagine.

☆ The order of authorship for authors two through six was determined randomly; each of these authors contributed equally to this paper.

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A Crisis of Long-Term Unemployment Is Looming in the U.S.

  • Ofer Sharone

good research questions about unemployment

How biases trap qualified job seekers in a cycle of rejection — and how to help them break free.

The stigma of long-term unemployment can be profound and long-lasting. As the United States eases out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it needs better approaches to LTU compared to the Great Recession. But research shows that stubborn biases among hiring managers can make the lived experiences of jobseekers distressing, leading to a vicious cycle of diminished emotional well-being that can make it all but impossible to land a role. Instead of sticking with the standard ways of helping the LTU, however, a pilot program that uses a wider, sociologically-oriented lens can help jobseekers understand that their inability to land a gig isn’t their fault. This can help people go easier on themselves which, ultimately, can make it more likely that they’ll find a new position.

Covid-19 has ravaged employment in the United States, from temporary furloughs to outright layoffs. Currently, over 4 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more , including an estimated 1.5 million workers in white-collar occupations, according to my calculations. Though the overall unemployment rate is down from its peak last spring, the percent of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed (LTU) keeps increasing and is currently at over 40%, a level of LTU comparable to the Great Recession but otherwise unseen in the U.S. in over 60 years.

good research questions about unemployment

  • Ofer Sharone is an expert on long-term unemployment and the author of the book Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences (University of Chicago Press). Sharone received his PhD in sociology from the University of California Berkeley, his JD from Harvard Law School, and is currently an associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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  • Original Article
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  • Published: 08 March 2018

Unemployment among younger and older individuals: does conventional data about unemployment tell us the whole story?

  • Hila Axelrad 1 , 2 ,
  • Miki Malul 3 &
  • Israel Luski 4  

Journal for Labour Market Research volume  52 , Article number:  3 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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In this research we show that workers aged 30–44 were significantly more likely than those aged 45–59 to find a job a year after being unemployed. The main contribution is demonstrating empirically that since older workers’ difficulties are related to their age, while for younger individuals the difficulties are more related to the business cycle, policy makers must devise different programs to address unemployment among young and older individuals. The solution to youth unemployment is the creation of more jobs, and combining differential minimum wage levels and earned income tax credits might improve the rate of employment for older individuals.

1 Introduction

Literature about unemployment references both the unemployment of older workers (ages 45 or 50 and over) and youth unemployment (15–24). These two phenomena differ from one another in their characteristics, scope and solutions.

Unemployment among young people begins when they are eligible to work. According to the International Labor Office (ILO), young people are increasingly having trouble when looking for their first job (ILO 2011 ). The sharp increase in youth unemployment and underemployment is rooted in long-standing structural obstacles that prevent many youngsters in both OECD countries and emerging economies from making a successful transition from school to work. Not all young people face the same difficulties in gaining access to productive and rewarding jobs, and the extent of these difficulties varies across countries. Nevertheless, in all countries, there is a core group of young people facing various combinations of high and persistent unemployment, poor quality jobs when they do find work and a high risk of social exclusion (Keese et al. 2013 ). The rate of youth unemployment is much higher than that of adults in most countries of the world (ILO 2011 ; Keese et al. 2013 ; O’Higgins 1997 ; Morsy 2012 ). Official youth unemployment rates in the early decade of the 2010s ranged from under 10% in Germany to around 50% in Spain ( ; Pasquali 2012 ). The youngest employees, typically the newest, are more likely to be let go compared to older employees who have been in their jobs for a long time and have more job experience and job security (Furlong et al. 2012 ). However, although unemployment rates among young workers are relatively higher than those of older people, the period of time they spend unemployed is generally shorter than that of older adults (O’Higgins 2001 ).

We would like to argue that one of the most important determinants of youth unemployment is the economy’s rate of growth. When the aggregate level of economic activity and the level of adult employment are high, youth employment is also high. Footnote 1 Quantitatively, the employment of young people appears to be one of the most sensitive variables in the labor market, rising substantially during boom periods and falling substantially during less active periods (Freeman and Wise 1982 ; Bell and Blanchflower 2011 ; Dietrich and Möller 2016 ). Several explanations have been offered for this phenomenon. First, youth unemployment might be caused by insufficient skills of young workers. Another reason is a fall in aggregate demand, which leads to a decline in the demand for labor in general. Young workers are affected more strongly than older workers by such changes in aggregate demand (O’Higgins 2001 ). Thus, our first research question is whether young adults are more vulnerable to economic shocks compared to their older counterparts.

Older workers’ unemployment is mainly characterized by difficulties in finding a new job for those who have lost their jobs (Axelrad et al. et al. 2013 ). This fact seems counter-intuitive because older workers have the experience and accumulated knowledge that the younger working population lacks. The losses to society and the individuals are substantial because life expectancy is increasing, the retirement age is rising in many countries, and people are generally in good health (Axelrad et al. 2013 ; Vodopivec and Dolenc 2008 ).

The difficulty that adults have in reintegrating into the labor market after losing their jobs is more severe than that of the younger unemployed. Studies show that as workers get older, the duration of their unemployment lengthens and the chances of finding a job decline (Böheim et al. 2011 ; De Coen et al. 2010 ). Therefore, our second research question is whether older workers’ unemployment stems from their age.

In this paper, we argue that the unemployment rates of young people and older workers are often misinterpreted. Even if the data show that unemployment rates are higher among young people, such statistics do not necessarily imply that it is harder for them to find a job compared to older individuals. We maintain that youth unemployment stems mainly from the characteristics of the labor market, not from specific attributes of young people. In contrast, the unemployment of older individuals is more related to their specific characteristics, such as higher salary expectations, higher labor costs and stereotypes about being less productive (Henkens and Schippers 2008 ; Keese et al. 2006 ). To test these hypotheses, we conduct an empirical analysis using statistics from the Israeli labor market and data published by the OECD. We also discuss some policy implications stemming from our results, specifically, a differential policy of minimum wages and earned income tax credits depending on the worker’s age.

Following the introduction and literary review, the next part of our paper presents the existing data about the unemployment rates of young people and adults in the OECD countries in general and Israel in particular. Than we present the research hypotheses and theoretical model, we describe the data, variables and methods used to test our hypotheses. The regression results are presented in Sect.  4 , the model of Business Cycle is presented in Sect.  5 , and the paper concludes with some policy implications, a summary and conclusions in Sect.  6 .

2 Literature review

Over the past 30 years, unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular has been a major problem in many industrial societies (Isengard 2003 ). The transition from school to work is a rather complex and turbulent period. The risk of unemployment is greater for young people than for adults, and first jobs are often unstable and rather short-lived (Jacob 2008 ). Many young people have short spells of unemployment during their transition from school to work; however, some often get trapped in unemployment and risk becoming unemployed in the long term (Kelly et al. 2012 ).

Youth unemployment leads to social problems such as a lack of orientation and hostility towards foreigners, which in turn lead to increased social expenditures. At the societal level, high youth unemployment endangers the functioning of social security systems, which depend on a sufficient number of compulsory payments from workers in order to operate (Isengard 2003 ).

Workers 45 and older who have lost their jobs often encounter difficulties in finding a new job (Axelrad et al. 2013 ; Marmora and Ritter 2015 ) although today they are more able to work longer than in years past (Johnson 2004 ). In addition to the monetary rewards, work also offers mental and psychological benefits (Axelrad et al. 2016 ; Jahoda 1982 ; Winkelmann and Winkelmann 1998 ). Working at an older age may contribute to an individual’s mental acuity and provide a sense of usefulness.

On average, throughout the OECD, the hiring rate of workers aged 50 and over is less than half the rate for workers aged 25–49. The low re-employment rates among older job seekers reflect, among other things, the reluctance of employers to hire older workers. Lahey ( 2005 ) found evidence of age discrimination against older workers in labor markets. Older job applicants (aged 50 or older), are treated differently than younger applicants. A younger worker is more than 40% more likely to be called back for an interview compared to an older worker. Age discrimination is also reflected in the time it takes for older adults to find a job. Many workers aged 45 or 50 and older who have lost their jobs often encounter difficulties in finding a new job, even if they are physically and intellectually fit (Hendels 2008 ; Malul 2009 ). Despite the fact that older workers are considered to be more reliable (McGregor and Gray 2002 ) and to have better business ethics, they are perceived as less flexible or adaptable, less productive and having higher salary expectations (Henkens and Schippers 2008 ). Employers who hesitated in hiring older workers also mentioned factors such as wages and non-wage labor costs that rise more steeply with age and the difficulties firms may face in adjusting working conditions to meet the requirements of employment protection rules (Keese et al. 2006 ).

Thus, we have a paradox. On one hand, people live longer, the retirement age is rising, and older people in good health want or need to keep working. At the same time, employers seek more and more young workers all the time. This phenomenon might marginalize skilled and experience workers, and take away their ability to make a living and accrue pension rights. Thus, employers’ reluctance to hire older workers creates a cycle of poverty and distress, burdening the already overcrowded social institutions and negatively affecting the economy’s productivity and GDP (Axelrad et al. 2013 ).

2.1 OECD countries during the post 2008 crisis

The recent global economic crisis took an outsized toll on young workers across the globe, especially in advanced economies, which were hit harder and recovered more slowly than emerging markets and developing economies. Does this fact imply that the labor market in Spain and Portugal (with relatively high youth unemployment rates) is less “friendly” toward younger individuals than the labor market in Israel and Germany (with a relatively low youth unemployment rate)? Has the market in Spain and Portugal become less “friendly” toward young people during the last 4 years? We argue that the main factor causing the increasing youth unemployment rates in Spain and Portugal is the poor state of the economy in the last 4 years in these countries rather than a change in attitudes toward hiring young people.

OECD data indicate that adult unemployment is significantly lower than youth unemployment. The global economic crisis has hit young people very hard. In 2010, there were nearly 15 million unemployed youngsters in the OECD area, about four million more than at the end of 2007 (Scarpetta et al. 2010 ).

From an international perspective, and unlike other developed countries, Israel has a young age structure, with a high birthrate and a small fraction of elderly population. Israel has a mandatory retirement age, which differs for men (67) and women (62), and the labor force participation of older workers is relatively high (Stier and Endeweld 2015 ), therefore, we believe that Israel is an interesting case for studying.

The Israeli labor market is extremely flexible (e.g. hiring and firing are relatively easy), and mobile (workers can easily move between jobs) (Peretz 2016 ). Focusing on Israel’s labor market, we want to check whether this is true for older Israeli workers as well, and whether there is a difference between young and older workers.

The problem of unemployment among young people in Israel is less severe than in most other developed countries. This low unemployment rate is a result of long-term processes that have enabled the labor market to respond relatively quickly to changes in the economic environment and have reduced structural unemployment. Footnote 2 Furthermore, responsible fiscal and monetary policies, and strong integration into the global market have also promoted employment at all ages. With regard to the differences between younger and older workers in Israel, Stier and Endeweld ( 2015 ) determined that older workers, men and women alike, are indeed less likely to leave their jobs. This finding is similar to other studies showing that older workers are less likely to move from one employer to another. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median employee tenure is generally higher among older workers than younger ones (BLS 2014 ). Movement in and out of the labor market is highest among the youngest workers. However, these young people are re-employed quickly, while older workers have the hardest time finding jobs once they become unemployed. The Bank of Israel calculated the chances of unemployed people finding work between two consecutive quarters using a panel of the Labor Force Survey for the years 1996–2011. Their calculations show that since the middle of the last decade the chances of unemployed people finding a job between two consecutive quarters increased. Footnote 3 However, as noted earlier, as workers age, the duration of their unemployment lengthens. Prolonged unemployment erodes the human capital of the unemployed (Addison et al. 2004 ), which has a particularly deleterious effect on older workers. Thus, the longer the period of unemployment of older workers, the less likely they will find a job (Axelrad and Luski 2017 ). Nevertheless, as Fig.  1 shows, the rates of youth unemployment in Israel are higher than those of older workers.

(Source: Calculated by the authors by using data from the Labor Force survey of the Israeli CBS, 2011)

Unemployed persons and discouraged workers as percentages of the civilian labor force, by age group (Bank of Israel 2011 ). We excluded those living outside settled communities or in institutions. The percentages of discouraged workers are calculated from the civilian labor force after including them in it

We argue that the main reason for this situation is the status quo in the labor market, which is general and not specific to Israel. It applies both to older workers and young workers who have a job. The status quo is evident in the situation in which adults (and young people) already in the labor market manage to keep their jobs, making the entrance of new young people into the labor market more difficult. What we are witnessing is not evidence of a preference for the old over the young, but the maintaining of the status quo.

The rate of employed Israelis covered by collective bargaining agreements increases with age: up to age 35, the rate is less than one-quarter, and between 50 and 64 the rate reaches about one-half. In effect, in each age group between 25 and 60, there are about 100,000 covered employees, and the lower coverage rate among the younger ages derives from the natural growth in the cohorts over time (Bank of Israel 2013 ). The wave of unionization in recent years is likely to change only the age profile of the unionization rate and the decline in the share of covered people over the years, to the extent that it strengthens and includes tens of thousands more employees from the younger age groups. Footnote 4

The fact that the percentage of employees covered by collective agreement increases with age implies that there is a status quo effect. Older workers are protected by collective agreements, and it is hard to dismiss them (Culpepper 2002 ; Palier and Thelen 2010 ). However, young workers enter the workforce with individual contracts and are not protected, making it is easier to change their working conditions and dismiss them.

To complete the picture, Fig.  2 shows that the number of layoffs among adults is lower, possibly due to their protection under collective bargaining agreements.

(Source: Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 2008, data processed by the authors)

Dismissal of employees in Israel, by age. Percentage of total employed persons ages 20–75 and over including those dismissed

In order to determine the real difference between the difficulties of older versus younger individuals in finding work, we have to eliminate the effect of the status quo in the labor market. For example, if we removed all of the workers from the labor market, what would be the difference between the difficulties of older people versus younger individuals in finding work? In the next section we will analyze the probability of younger and older individuals moving from unemployment to employment when we control for the status quo. We will do so by considering only individuals who have not been employed at least part of the previous year.

3 Estimating the chances of finding a job and research hypotheses

Based on the literature and the classic premise that young workers are more vulnerable to economic shocks (ILO 2011 ), we posit that:

H 1 : The unemployment rate of young people stems mainly from the characteristics of the labor market and less from their personal attributes.

Based on the low hiring rate of older workers (OECD 2006 ) and the literature about age discrimination against older workers in labor markets (Axelrad et al. 2013 ; Lahey 2005 ), we hypothesis that:

H 2 : The difficulty face by unemployed older workers searching for a job stems mainly from their age and less from the characteristics of the labor market.

To assess the chances of younger and older workers finding a job, we used a logit regression model that has been validated in previous studies (Brander et al. 2002 ; Flug and Kassir 2001 ). Being employed was the dependent variable, and the characteristics of the respondents (age, gender, ethnicity and education) were the independent variables. The dependent variable was nominal and dichotomous with two categories: 0 or 1. We defined the unemployed as those who did not work at all during the last year or worked less than 9 months last year. The dependent variable was a dummy variable of the current employment situation, which received the value of 1 if the individual worked last week and 0 otherwise.

3.1 The model

i—individual i, P i —the chances that individual i will have a full or part time job (at the time of the survey). \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle-}$}}{\text{X}}_{\text{i}}\) —vector of explanatory variables of individual i. Each of the variables in vector \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle-}$}}{X}_{i}\) was defined as a dummy variable with the value of 1 or 0. β—vector of marginal addition to the log of the odds ratio. For example, if the explanatory variable was the log of 13 years or more of schooling, then the log odds ratio refers to the marginal addition of 13 years of education to the chances of being employed, compared with 12 years of education or less.

The regression allowed us to predict the probability of an individual finding a job. The dependent variable was the natural base log of the probability ratio P divided by (1 − P) that a particular individual would find a job. The odds ratio from the regression answers the question of how much more likely it is that an individual will find a job if he or she has certain characteristics. The importance of the probability analysis is the consideration of the marginal contribution of each feature to the probability of finding a job.

3.2 The sample

We used data gathered from the 2011 Labor Force Survey Footnote 5 of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Footnote 6 which is a major survey conducted annually among households. The survey follows the development of the labor force in Israel, its size and characteristics, as well as the extent of unemployment and other trends. Given our focus on working age individuals, we excluded all of the respondents under the age of 18 or over the age of 59. The data sample includes only the Jewish population, because structural problems in the non-Jewish sector made it difficult to estimate this sector using the existing data only. The sample does not include the ultra-Orthodox population because of their special characteristics, particularly the limited involvement of men in this population in the labor market.

The base population is individuals who did not work at all during the past year or worked less than 9 months last year (meaning that they worked but were unemployed at least part of last year). To determine whether they managed to find work after 1 year of unemployment, we used the question on the ICBS questionnaire, “Did you work last week?” We used the answer to this question to distinguish between those who had succeeded in finding a job and those who did not. The data include individuals who were out of the labor force Footnote 7 at the time of the survey, but exclude those who were not working for medical reasons (illness, disability or other medical restrictions) or due to their mandatory military service. Footnote 8

3.3 Data and variables

The survey contains 104,055 respondents, but after omitting all of the respondents under the age of 18 or above 59, those who were outside the labor force for medical reasons or due to mandatory military service, non-Jews, the ultra-Orthodox, and those who worked more than 9 months last year, the sample includes 13,494 individuals (the base population). Of these, 9409 are individuals who had not managed to find work, and 4085 are individuals who were employed when the survey was conducted.

The participants’ ages range between 18 and 59, with the average age being 33.07 (SD 12.88) and the median age being 29. 40.8% are males; 43.5% have an academic education; 52.5% are single, and 53.5% of the respondents have no children under 17.

3.4 Dependent and independent variables

While previous studies have assessed the probability of being unemployed in the general population, our study examines a more specific case: the probability of unemployed individuals finding a job. Therefore, we use the same explanatory variables that have been used in similar studies conducted in Israel (Brander et al. 2002 ; Flug and Kassir 2001 ), which were also based on an income survey and the Labor Force Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics.

3.5 The dependent variable—being employed

According to the definition of the CBS, employed persons are those who worked at least 1 h during a given week for pay, profit or other compensation.

3.6 Independent variables

We divided the population into sub-groups of age intervals: 18–24, 25–29, 30–44, 45–54 and 55–59, according to the sub-groups provided by the CBS. We then assigned a special dummy variable to each group—except the 30–44 sub-group, which is considered as the base group. Age is measured as a dummy variable, and is codded as 1 if the individual belongs to the age group, and 0 otherwise. Age appears in the regression results as a variable in and of itself. Its significance is the marginal contribution of each age group to the probability of finding work relative to the base group (ages 30–44), and also as an interaction variable.

3.6.2 Gender

This variable is codded as 1 if the individual is female and 0 otherwise. Gender also appears in the interaction with age.

3.6.3 Marital status

Two dummy variables are used: one for married respondents and one for those who are divorced or widowed. In accordance with the practice of the CBS, we combined the divorced and the widowed into one variable. This variable is a dummy variable that is codded as 1 if the individual belongs to the appropriate group (divorced/widowed or married) and 0 otherwise. The base group is those who are single.

3.6.4 Education

This variable is codded as 1 if the individual has 13 or more years of schooling, and 0 otherwise. The variable also appears in interactions between it and the age variable.

3.6.5 Vocational education

This variable is codded as 1 if the individual has a secondary school diploma that is not an academic degree or another diploma, and 0 otherwise.

3.6.6 Academic education

This variable is codded as 1 if the individual has any university degree (bachelors, masters or Ph.D.) and 0 otherwise.

3.6.7 Children

In accordance with similar studies that examined the probability of employment in Israel (Brander et al. 2002 ), we define children as those up to age 17. This variable is a dummy variable that is codded as 1 if the respondents have children under the age of 17, and 0 otherwise.

3.6.8 Ethnicity

This variable is codded as 1 if the individual was born in an Arabic-speaking country, in an African country other than South Africa, or in an Asian country, or was born in Israel but had a father who was born in one of these countries. Israel generally refers to such individuals as Mizrahim. Respondents who were not Mizrahim received a value of 0. The base group in our study are men aged 30–44 who are not Mizrahim.

We also assessed the interactions between the variables. For example, the interaction between age and the number of years of schooling is the contribution of education (i.e., 13 years of schooling) to the probability of finding a job for every age group separately relative to the situation of having less education (i.e., 12 years of education). The interaction between age and gender is the contribution of gender (i.e., being a female respondent) to the probability of finding a job for each age group separately relative to being a man.

To demonstrate the differences between old and young individuals in their chances of finding a job, we computed the rates of those who managed to find a job relative to all of the respondents in the sample. Table  1 shows that the rate of those who found a job declines with age. For example, 36% of the men age 30–44 found a job, but those rates drop to 29% at the age of 45–54 and decline again to 17% at the age of 55–59. As for women, 31% of them aged 30–44 found a job, but those rates drop to 20% at the age of 45–54 and decline again to 9% at the age of 55–59.

In an attempt to determine the role of education in finding employment, we created Model 1 and Model 2, which differ only in terms of how we defined education. In Model 1 the sample is divided into two groups: those with up to 12 years of schooling (the base group) and those with 13 or more years of schooling. In Model 2 there are three sub-groups: those with a university degree, those who have a vocational education, and the base group that has only a high school degree.

Table  2 shows that the probability of a young person (age 18–24) getting a job is larger than that of an individual aged 30–44 who belongs to the base group (the coefficient of the dummy variable “age 18–24” is significant and positive). Similarly, individuals who are older than 45 are less likely than those in the base group to find work.

Women aged 30–44 are less likely to be employed than men in the same age group. Additionally, when we compare women aged 18–24 to women aged 30–44, we see that the chances of the latter being employed are lower. Older women (45+) are much less likely than men of the same age group to find work. Additionally, having children under the age of 17 at home reduces the probability of finding a job.

A university education increases the probability of being employed for both men and women aged 30–44. Furthermore, for older people (55+) an academic education reduces the negative effect of age on the probability of being employed. While a vocational education increases the likelihood of finding a job for those aged 30–44, such a qualification has no significant impact on the prospects of older people.

Interestingly, being a Mizrahi Jew increases the probability of being employed.

In addition, we estimated the models separately twice—for the male and for the female population. For male and female, the probability of an unemployed individual finding a job declines with age.

Analyzing the male population (Table  3 ) reveals that those aged 18–24 are more likely than the base group (ages 30–44) to find a job. However, the significance level is relatively low, and in Model 2, this variable is not significant at all. Those 45 and older are less likely than the base group (ages 30–44) to find a job. Married men are more likely than single men to be employed. However, divorced and widowed men are less likely than single men to find a job. For men, the presence in their household of children under the age of 17 further reduces the probability of their being employed. Mizrahi men aged 18–24 are more likely to be employed than men of the same age who are from other regions.

Table  3 illustrates that educated men are more likely to find work than those who are not. However, in Model 1, at the ages 18–29 and 45–54, the probability of finding a job for educated men is less than that of uneducated males. Among younger workers, this might be due to excess supply—the share of academic degree owners has risen, in contrast to almost no change in the overall share of individuals receiving some other post-secondary certificate (Fuchs 2015 ). Among older job seeking men, this might be due to the fact that the increase in employment among men during 2002–2010 occurred mainly in part-time jobs (Bank of Israel 2011 ). In Model 2, men with an academic or vocational education have a better chance of finding a job, but at the group age of 18–24, those with a vocational education are less likely to find a job compared to those without a vocational education. The reason might be the lack of experience of young workers (18–24), experience that is particularly needed in jobs that require vocational education (Salvisberg and Sacchi 2014 ).

Analyzing the female population (Table  3 ) reveals that women between 18 and 24 are more likely to be employed than those who are 30–44, and those who are 45–59 are less likely to be employed than those who are 30–44. The probability of finding a job for women at the age of 25 to 29 is not significantly different from the probability of the base group (women ages 30–44).

Married women are less likely than single women to be employed. Women who have children under the age of 17 are less likely to be employed than women who do not have dependents that age. According to Model 2, Mizrahi women are more likely to be employed compared to women from other regions. According to both models, women originally from Asia or Africa ages 25–29 have a better chance of being employed than women the same age from other regions. Future research should examine this finding in depth to understand it.

With regard to education, in Model 1 (Table  3 ), where we divided the respondents simply on the question of whether they had a post-high school education, women who were educated were more likely to find work than those who were not. However, in the 18–29 age categories, educated women were less likely to find a job compared to uneducated women, probably due to the same reason cited above for men in the same age group—the inflation of academic degrees (Fuchs 2015 ). These findings become more nuanced when we consider the results of Model 2. There, women with an academic or vocational education have a better chance of finding a job, but at the ages of 18–24 those with an academic education are less likely to find a job than those without an academic education. Finally, at the ages of 25–29, those with a vocational education have a better chance of finding a job than those without a vocational education, due to the stagnation in the overall share of individuals receiving post-secondary certificate (Fuchs 2015 ).

Thus, based on the results in Table  3 , we can draw several conclusions. First, the effect of aging on women is more severe than the impact on men. In addition, the “marriage premium” is positive for men and negative for women. Divorced or widowed men lose their “marriage premium”. Finally, having children at home has a negative effect on both men and women—almost at the same magnitude.

5 Unemployment as a function of the business cycle

To determine whether unemployment of young workers is caused by the business cycle, we examined the unemployment figures in 34 OECD countries in 2007–2009, years of economic crisis, and in 2009–2011, years of recovery and economic growth. For each country, we considered the data on unemployment among young workers (15–24) and older adults (55–64) and calculated the difference between 2009 and 2007 and between 2011 and 2009 for both groups. The data were taken from OECD publications and included information about the growth rates from 2007 to 2011. Our assessment of unemployment rates in 34 OECD countries reveals that the average rate of youth unemployment in 2007 was 13.4%, compared to 18.9% in 2011, so the delta of youth unemployment before and after the economic crisis was 5.55. The average rate of adult unemployment in 2007 was 4% compared to 5.8% in 2011, so the delta for adults was 1.88. Both of the differences are significantly different from zero, and the delta for young people is significantly larger than the delta for adults. These results indicate that among young people (15–24), the increase in unemployment due to the crisis was very large.

An OLS model of the reduced form was estimated to determine whether unemployment is a function of the business cycle, which is represented by the growth rate. The variables GR2007, GR2009 and GR2011 are the rate of GDP growth in 2007, 2009 and 2011 respectively ( Appendix ). The explanatory variable is either GR2009 minus GR2007 or GR2011 minus GR2009. In both periods, 2007–2009 and 2009–2011, the coefficient of the change in growth rates is negative and significant for young people, but insignificant for adults. Thus, it seems that the unemployment rates of young people are affected by the business cycle, but those of older workers are not. In a time of recession (2007–2009), unemployment among young individuals increases whereas for older individuals the increase in unemployment is not significant. In recovery periods (2009–2011), unemployment among young individuals declines, whereas the drop in unemployment among older individuals is not significant (Table  4 ).

6 Summary and conclusions

The purpose of this paper was to show that while the unemployment rates of young workers are higher than those of older workers, the data alone do not necessarily tell the whole story. Our findings confirm our first hypothesis, that the high unemployment rate of young people stems mainly from the characteristics of the labor market and less from their personal attributes. Using data from Israel and 34 OECD countries, we demonstrated that a country’s growth rate is the main factor that determines youth unemployment. However, the GDP rate of growth cannot explain adult unemployment. Our results also support our second hypothesis, that the difficulties faced by unemployed older workers when searching for a job are more a function of their age than the overall business environment.

Indeed, one limitation of the study is the fact that we could not follow individuals over time and capture individual changes. We analyze a sample of those who have been unemployed in the previous year and then analyze the probability of being employed in the subsequent year but cannot take into account people could have found a job in between which they already lost again. Yet, in this sample we could isolate and analyze those who did not work last year and look at their employment status in the present. By doing so, we found out that the rate of those who found a job declines with age, and that the difficulties faced by unemployed older workers stems mainly from their age.

To solve both of these problems, youth unemployment and older workers unemployment, countries need to adopt different methods. Creating more jobs will help young people enter the labor market. Creating differential levels for the minimum wage and supplementing the income of older workers with earned income tax credits will help older people re-enter the job market.

Further research may explore the effect of structural and institutional differences which can also determine individual unemployment vs. employment among different age groups.

In addition to presenting a theory about the factors that affect the differences in employment opportunities for young people and those over 45, the main contribution of this paper is demonstrating the validity of our contention that it is age specifically that works to keep older people out of the job market, whereas it is the business cycle that has a deleterious effect on the job prospects of younger people. Given these differences, these two sectors of unemployment require different approaches for solving their employment problems. The common wisdom maintains that the high level of youth unemployment requires policy makers to focus on programs targeting younger unemployed individuals. However, we argue that given the results of our study, policy makers must adopt two different strategies to dealing with unemployment in these two groups.

6.1 Policy implications

In order to cope with the problem of youth unemployment, we must create more jobs. When the recession ends in Portugal and Spain, the problem of youth unemployment should be alleviated. Since there is no discrimination against young people—evidenced by the fact that when the aggregate level of economic activity and the level of adult employment are high, youth employment is also high—creating more jobs in general by enhancing economic growth should improve the employment rates of young workers.

In contrast, the issue of adult unemployment requires a different solution due to the fact that their chances of finding a job are related specifically to their age. One solution might be a differential minimum wage for older and younger individuals and earned income tax credits (EITC) Footnote 9 for older individuals, as Malul and Luski ( 2009 ) suggested.

According to this solution, the government should reduce the minimum wage for older individuals. As a complementary policy and in order to avoid differences in wages between older and younger individuals, the former would receive an earned income tax credit so that their minimum wage together with their EITC would be equal to the minimum wage of younger individuals. Earned income tax credits could increase employment among older workers while increasing their income. For older workers, EITCs are more effective than a minimum wage both in terms of employment and income. Such policies of a differential minimum wage plus an EITC can help older adults and constitute a kind of social safety net for them. Imposing a higher minimum wage exclusively for younger individuals may be beneficial in encouraging them to seek more education.

Young workers who face layoffs as a result of their high minimum wage (Kalenkoski and Lacombe 2008 ) may choose to increase their investment in their human capital (Nawakitphaitoon 2014 ). The ability of young workers to improve their professional level protects them against the unemployment that might result from a higher minimum wage (Malul and Luski 2009 ). For older workers, if the minimum wage is higher than their productivity, they will be unemployed. This will be true even if their productivity is higher than the value of their leisure. Such a situation might result in an inefficient allocation between work and leisure for this group. One way to fix this inefficient allocation without reducing the wages of older individuals is to use the EITC, which is actually a subsidy for this group. This social policy might prompt employers to substitute older workers with a lower minimum wage for more expensive younger workers, making it possible for traditional factories to continue their domestic production. However, a necessary condition for this suggestion to work is the availability of efficient systems of training and learning. Axelrad et al. ( 2013 ) provided another justification for subsidizing the work of older individuals. They found that stereotypes about older workers might lead to a distorted allocation of the labor force. Subsidizing the work of older workers might correct this distortion. Ultimately, however, policy makers must understand that they must implement two different approaches to dealing with the problems of unemployment among young people and in the older population.

For example, in the US, the UK and Portugal, we witnessed higher rates of growth during late 1990 s and lower rates of youth unemployment compared to 2011.

Bank of Israel Annual Report—2013, . .

The Labor Force Survey is a major survey conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics among households nationwide. The survey follows the development of the labor force in Israel, its size and characteristics, as well as the extent of unemployment and other trends. The publication contains detailed data on labor force characteristics such as their age, years of schooling, type of school last attended, and immigration status. It is also a source of information on living conditions, mobility in employment, and many other topics.

The survey population is the permanent (de jure) population of Israel aged 15 and over. For more details see: .

When we looked at those who had not managed to find a job at the time of the survey, we included all individuals who were not working, regardless of whether they were discouraged workers, volunteers or had other reasons. As long as they are not out of the labor force due to medical reasons or their mandatory military service, we classified them as "did not manage to find a job."

Until 2012, active soldiers were considered outside the labor force in the samples of the CBS.

EITC is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and couples.

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Vodopivec, M., Dolenc, P.: Live longer, work longer: making it happen in the labor market. Financ. Theory Pract. 32 (1), 65–81 (2008)

Winkelmann, L., Winkelmann, R.: Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Evidence from panel data. Economica 65 (257), 1–15 (1998)

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Authors’ contributions

HA, MM and IL conceptualized and designed the study. HA collected and managed study data, HA and IL carried out statistical analyses. HA drafted the initial manuscript. MM and IL reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Center on Aging & Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, 02467, USA

Hila Axelrad

The School of Social and Policy Studies, The Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, 6997801, Tel Aviv, Israel

Department of Public Policy & Administration, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business & Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel

Department of Economics, The Western Galilee College, Akko, Israel

Israel Luski

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Axelrad, H., Malul, M. & Luski, I. Unemployment among younger and older individuals: does conventional data about unemployment tell us the whole story?. J Labour Market Res 52 , 3 (2018).

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Published : 08 March 2018


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Questions to Address Youth Unemployment

We need to spur fresh thinking in this field even as we test and evaluate diverse approaches that promote youth economic empowerment in developing countries.

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By Reeta Roy Sep. 14, 2010

Next week, more than 300 people will convene at the Global Youth Enterprise & Livelihoods Development Conference in Washington, DC. I will be joining several of our partners, other funders, international NGOs, and youth innovators to discuss tough questions and promising solutions related to employment and entrepreneurship for young people. 

Approximately 1.3 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 24 live in developing countries. The pace of economic growth in many of these countries will be insufficient to create the 1 billion jobs needed over the next decade as youth transition into the workforce. And while there is an increase in basic education levels, millions of young people in developing countries still face bleak employment opportunities. Young women have even higher rates of unemployment and face additional systemic, social and cultural barriers.

Thus, there is an urgent need for new approaches to create economic opportunities for young people.  If successful, the effects of youth employment and productivity will have inter-generational impact with multiplier effects from wealth creation and growth to social stability and new leadership.

This requires a continuum of interventions that equip young people to change their own lives. Access to education, knowledge, skills, social networks and capital are the building blocks of this change.  How do we enable young people to stay in school and complete their secondary education?  Is micro-franchising a potential solution to entrepreneurship and job creation? How do we expand technology applications to equip young people with employability skills and connect them to ideas, mentors and resources? What’s required to encourage financial institutions to sustainably offer youth-inclusive financial education and services to enable young people to save money, build assets and manage financial resources for their education or to start a business?

Are you enjoying this article? Read more like this, plus SSIR's full archive of content, when you subscribe .

We need to spur fresh thinking in this field even as we test and evaluate diverse approaches that promote youth economic empowerment in developing countries, particularly in Africa. We have much work ahead of us to generate approaches that work at scale.

We believe that the most compelling ideas will come from those with the greatest stake in finding solutions—young people themselves.  We’ve already seen an explosion of activities by young people around the world to tackle questions facing them, and we would like to tap into this innovation.  As funders and practitioners, we need ways to engage young people in identifying needs, developing solutions and delivering them in ways that are trusted and accessible by youth and their families. 

Support  SSIR ’s coverage of cross-sector solutions to global challenges.  Help us further the reach of innovative ideas.  Donate today .

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137 Unemployment Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on unemployment, 🔎 easy unemployment research paper topics, 👍 good unemployment essay topics to write about, 🎓 most interesting unemployment research titles, 💡 simple unemployment essay ideas, ❓ unemployment research questions.

  • Causes of Youth Unemployment
  • The Impact of Unemployment on Crime Rates
  • Artificial Intelligence and Unemployment
  • Economics: Unemployment, Its Causes and Types
  • Unemployment Rates Among Young College Graduates
  • Unemployment, Its Types and Government Intervention
  • Social Problems and Policy: Youth Unemployment and Mental Health
  • Social and Economic Aspects of Unemployment in the UAE Despite the UAE having the lowest level of unemployment in the world, the number of foreign workers exceeds its native employees.
  • The Effects of the Minimum Wage on Overall Unemployment The raised minimum wage would create more jobs for low-wage workers, as this rise would prompt the goods and services demand of such workers who would now be able to afford more.
  • Unemployment Rate During COVID-19 COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown measures significantly affected the civilian labor force participation and unemployment rates.
  • Unemployment and Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale The concept of self-esteem is derived from self–theory. A basic assumption of self-theory is the need to appreciate oneself and be appreciated by others.
  • Natural Rate of Unemployment In determining the natural rate of unemployment, analysts focus on evaluating price and wage settings in the labour market.
  • Unemployment Rates in the United States Unemployment is unevenly distributed across the US population, with regards to race, age, gender, and education.
  • “Unemployment and Terrorism” TED Talk by Mohamed Ali In this TED talk, Mohamed Ali explores the relationship between unemployment and terrorism. Ali incorporates stories from his native country to support his arguments.
  • Unemployment’ Nature and Possible Causes Unemployment rate refers to the percentage of people within the available labour force who do have jobs and are actively looking for one. Unemployment rates cannot be reduced to zero.
  • Building a Business to Address Youth Unemployment An opportunity to build a business based on the youth unemployment problem has both strengths and weaknesses, also opportunities for further development.
  • AI Development, Unemployment, and Universal Basic Income The theme of AI-human relationships takes an important place in science fiction literature, movies, and video games, but it is not limited by them.
  • Homelessness Due to Unemployment During COVID-19 This paper is a research on how unemployment resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has left many homeless in the United States.
  • Domestic Violence in Melbourne: Impact of Unemployment Due to Pandemic Restrictions The purpose of this paper is to analyze to what extent does unemployment due to pandemic restrictions impact domestic violence against women in Melbourne.
  • Unemployment and Its Macroeconomic Implications In the process of learning about macroeconomic trends, one obtains an opportunity to expand their knowledge about particular factors and their outcomes for the economy.
  • Counter-Terrorism and Unemployment Approaches A more novel approach to unemployment that considers the needs of a disenchanted youth is vital to reducing the draw towards terrorist activities.
  • The Long-Term Unemployment Positive Tendency The article argues that the level of long-term unemployment has fallen significantly compared to the previous years, reaching the lowest point in 9 years.
  • The Unemployment and Inflation Causes in Australia The change in the Australian 2021 indicator of unemployment is the representation of cyclical unemployment since it lasted less than a year.
  • Why the Unemployment Rate Needs Fixing in the US The article Latest Jobs Report Shows Why the Unemployment Rate Needs Fixing regards the issue of the inadequateness of the currently established formal indicator in the US.
  • Unemployment After the US Industrial Revolution Since the commencement of the industrial revolution, the process of automation, or more broadly the replacement of human employees by machines, has piqued widespread interest.
  • Unemployment and Political Regime Unemployment should be considered one of the critical factors influencing the economy of states and political stability. This paper discusses unemployment and political regime.
  • The Hispanic Unemployment Issue in the US A Hispanic person in the US is more likely to be unemployed than an average American. People of color have historically been one of the most discriminated groups.
  • The US Fiscal Policy and Unemployment Rate The problem to be discussed will be centered around the relationship between fiscal policies in regard to the unemployment rate in the United States.
  • Unemployment Rates in the State of Georgia In this essay, the author will present the current unemployment statistics and job outlook in the state of Georgia.
  • The High Unemployment Rate as a Most Serious Threat to Americans Although the United States has one of the highest economic indicators globally, thousands of Americans are unemployed across the country.
  • Unemployment Rates in the United States due to COVID-19 The increase in unemployment in the United States is associated with the country’s epidemiological situation and the tightening of quarantine measures taken by states.
  • An Article Review: “Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a short article that reports the results of the analysis of the changes in the “nonfarm payroll employment” in metropolitan areas.
  • Inflation and Unemployment in Bavaria Considering the normal state of the economy and the existing level of employment close to full, the President of Bavaria is not recommended to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy.
  • Economic Issues: Factors of Production Growth and Unemployment Rates Assessing the factors such as the rates of production growth, the selected financial systems, and the rates of unemployment is essential for determining the threat to the state economy.
  • Federal Poverty, Welfare, and Unemployment Policies In the paper, the federal policies regarding the above mentioned areas of public interest will be scrutinized and discussed at length.
  • Unemployment: Types And Factors Unemployment is one of the greatest social evils in our society today. This is because of the unfriendly impacts it has on the economy.
  • “Unemployment Checks: Keep ‘Em Coming” by Owens and Stettner: Article Review In the article, Owens and Stettner underline that current unemployment affects both the economy and employers, the government financial resources, and the jobless population.
  • Youth Unemployment in the United Kingdom Over the years, there have been remarkable unemployment rates among the youths all across the globe as compared to the age brackets that are regarded as adults.
  • Economics for Management. Unemployment in Spain Spain has the potential to reduce the unemployment rate, especially since it has already decreased significantly from 2016.
  • The Relationship Between Unemployment and Economic Growth Among the factors that define economic growth and development, human resources and unemployment are considered to be the most vital.
  • Unemployment Rates in the US The state of the American economy is getting closer to full employment, whereas the unemployment rates (as of 2017) remain to be approximately 4.4%.
  • Frictional Unemployment and Hyperinflation Frictional unemployment is also known as voluntary unemployment. It cannot be eliminated from the economy. There are some economic benefits associated with it.
  • Offshoring, Risks, and Unemployment The offshoring is fairly simple, yet this phenomenon has affected a range of companies across the globe, making it possible to enhance the quality of end products and services.
  • Youth Unemployment Rates in Canadian Society The problem under investigation is the fact that the unemployment rate among people in the 18-25 age group is higher than any other age group in Canadian society.
  • 2008 Great Recession, Unemployment and Stagnation This paper is looking into the case of the financial crisis, which results in an economic recession and the further sustained effects.
  • Unemployment and the Labour Market in Australia The paper studies forces of supply and demand in the Australian labor market, the labor force participation rate and the trends in labour force participation of older workers.
  • Reduced Unemployment in the UK In order to understand why there has been a decline in unemployment rate in the UK, it is essential to understand the reasons affecting UK unemployment.
  • Earnings-Related Unemployment Security, Employment and Lifetime Income
  • Employment, Unemployment and Real Economic Growth
  • Business Cycles and Compositional Variation in US Unemployment
  • Crime, Earnings Inequality, and Unemployment in England and Wales
  • European Unemployment: Cause and Cure
  • Demographic and Education Effects on Unemployment in Europe: Economic Factors and Labour Market Institutions
  • Centralized Wage Bargaining and Regional Unemployment
  • Capital Shortages and Asymmetries in UK Unemployment
  • Disarmament, Unemployment, Budgets, and Inflation
  • Demography, Capital Flows, and Unemployment
  • Duty-Free Zone, Unemployment, and Welfare a Note
  • Factors Affecting the Adjustments to Unemployment
  • Capital, Wages, and Structural Unemployment
  • Earnings, Unemployment, and Housing in Britain
  • Canada’s Interwar Unemployment From 1919 Until 1939
  • Aging and the Labor Market: Age Structure, Cohort Size, and Unemployment
  • Community Unemployment and Immigrants’ Health in Montreal
  • Employment, Unemployment, and Underemployment in Africa
  • Correlation Between Crime and Unemployment
  • Equilibrium Labor Turnover, Firm Growth and Unemployment
  • Changing Identity: Retiring From Unemployment
  • Equilibrium Unemployment and Retirement
  • Employment Turnover and Unemployment Insurance
  • Embodied Technical Change and the Fluctuations of Wages and Unemployment
  • Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in Great Britain
  • Capital Immobility, Informal Sector, and Urban Unemployment
  • Age Structure and the UK Unemployment Rate
  • Economics Instability Increases the Unemployment Rate in Malaysia
  • Australian Unemployment, Inflation, and Economic Growth
  • Broadband Infrastructure and Unemployment – Evidence for Germany
  • Economic Recession, Skilled Unemployment, and Welfare
  • Construction Industry Growth Economic Unemployment
  • Agglomeration, Job Flows, and Unemployment
  • Entrepreneurship, Asymmetric Information, and Unemployment
  • Economic Freedom and Unemployment in Emerging Market Economies
  • Absenteeism, Unemployment and Employment Protection Legislation: Evidence From Italy
  • Environmental Policy, Efficient Taxation, and Unemployment
  • Dynamic Contracts and Equilibrium Unemployment
  • Agro-Manufactured Export Prices, Wages and Unemployment
  • Banking Crises, Labor Reforms, and Unemployment
  • Environmental Policy, Pollution, Unemployment, and Endogenous Growth
  • Demographic Evolutions and Unemployment: An Analysis of French Labour Market With Workers Generations
  • Employment and Unemployment Insurance Schemes
  • Disability, Unemployment, and Poverty
  • Business Volatility, Job Destruction, and Unemployment
  • Aggregate Demand, Productivity, and Disguised Unemployment in the Chinese Industrial Sector
  • Child Support and Involuntary Unemployment
  • Efficiency-Wage Unemployment and Endogenous Growth
  • Addressing Education, Inequality, and Unemployment in Uganda
  • Economic Freedom and Unemployment Around the World
  • Dual Labor Markets, Urban Unemployment, and Multicentric Cities
  • Employment, Unemployment, and Problem Drinking
  • Correlations Between Recessions and Unemployment
  • Employment and Unemployment Effects of Unions
  • Collective Bargaining, Firm Heterogeneity and Unemployment
  • Equilibrium Unemployment During Financial Crises
  • Capital, Heterogeneous Labour, Global Goods Markets and Unemployment
  • Economic Policy, Industrial Structure, and Unemployment in Russia’s Regions
  • Capital Stock, Unemployment and Wages in the UK and Germany
  • Environmental Fiscal Reform and Unemployment in Spain
  • Why Did Unemployment Persist Despite the New Deal?
  • Can More FDI Solve the Problem of Unemployment in the EU?
  • What Is the Current Rate of Unemployment in the UK 2022?
  • Who Can Get Unemployment Benefits in Germany?
  • What Are Relationships Between Short-Term Unemployment and Inflation?
  • Does Broadband Internet Reduce the Unemployment Rate?
  • Are Education Systems Modern as Well as Practical Enough to Eliminate Unemployment, and Thus Poverty?
  • What Us State Has the Lowest Unemployment Rate?
  • Does High Unemployment Rate Result in a High Divorce Rate?
  • Does Culture Affect Unemployment?
  • Why Unemployment Is a Problem?
  • What Is the Unemployment Rate in Canada?
  • Are Early Educational Choices Affected by Unemployment Benefits?
  • How Long Does Unemployment Take To Get Approved?
  • Which Country Has the Lowest Unemployment Rate?
  • What’s the Lowest You Can Get From Unemployment?
  • Why Is the Us Unemployment Rate So Low?
  • How Does Unemployment Rate Affect Everyone?
  • Are Interest Rates Responsible for Unemployment in the Eighties?
  • Does Employment Protection Lead To Unemployment?
  • Are Searching and Non-searching Unemployment Distinct States When Unemployment Is High?
  • What Are the Solutions to Unemployment?
  • Can Google Econometrics Predict Unemployment?
  • How Far Was Unemployment the Most Important Reason for the Rise of the Nazis in Germany Between 1918 and 1933?
  • Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment?
  • What Is China’s Unemployment Rate?
  • What Are the Five Causes of Unemployment?
  • What Are the Main Causes of Unemployment in an Economy?
  • What City Has the Lowest Unemployment Rate?
  • Can Insider-Outsider Theories Explain the Persistence of Unemployment?

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Articles on Unemployment

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good research questions about unemployment

Over 26 million South Africans get a social grant. Fear of losing the payment used to be a reason to vote for the ANC, but no longer – study

Leila Patel , University of Johannesburg and Yolanda Sadie , University of Johannesburg

good research questions about unemployment

South Africa’s public service is dysfunctional – the 5 main reasons why

Marcel Nagar , University of Johannesburg

good research questions about unemployment

‘Eye watering’ spending, growing debt make up surprisingly generous Victorian state budget

David Hayward , RMIT University

good research questions about unemployment

Jobs for young Africans: new data tool reveals trends and red flags

Katharina Fenz , Vienna University of Economics and Business

good research questions about unemployment

South Africa’s youth are a generation lost under democracy – study

David Everatt , University of the Witwatersrand

good research questions about unemployment

Unstable employment while you’re young can set you up for a wage gap later in life – even if you eventually land full-time  work

Irma Mooi-Reci , The University of Melbourne

good research questions about unemployment

Why do identical informal businesses set up side by side? It’s a survival tactic – Kenya study

Tim Weiss , Imperial College London

good research questions about unemployment

Indians are fleeing their growing economy to work abroad – even in conflict zones. Here’s how to create more jobs at home

Santosh Mehrotra , University of Bath

good research questions about unemployment

Young people are lukewarm about Biden – and giving them more information doesn’t move the needle much

Neil O'Brian , University of Oregon and Chandler James , University of Oregon

good research questions about unemployment

South Africa has spent billions in 4 years to create jobs for young people: how their wages affect the broader economy

Joshua Budlender , UMass Amherst and Ihsaan Bassier , London School of Economics and Political Science

good research questions about unemployment

Immigrants do work that might not otherwise get done – bolstering the US economy

Ramya Devan , Stockton University

good research questions about unemployment

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa aims for upbeat tone in annual address, but fails to impress a jaundiced electorate

Keith Gottschalk , University of the Western Cape

good research questions about unemployment

Turkey earthquakes one year on: the devastation has exposed deep societal scars and women are bearing the brunt

Ufuk Gunes Bebek , University of Birmingham

good research questions about unemployment

Mortgage and inflation pain to ease, but only slowly: how 31 top economists see 2024

Peter Martin , Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

good research questions about unemployment

Young Black men in Canada face racism, ageism and classism when looking for work

Warren Clarke , University of Manitoba

good research questions about unemployment

NZ report card 2023: near the top of the class in some areas, room for improvement elsewhere

Alexander Gillespie , University of Waikato

good research questions about unemployment

There’s a glimmer of hope in the mid-year budget update, but inflation is still a big challenge

Stephen Bartos , University of Canberra

good research questions about unemployment

Budget update forecasts deficit of $1.1 billion this financial year

Michelle Grattan , University of Canberra

good research questions about unemployment

South Africa’s police are losing the war on crime – here’s how they need to rethink their approach

Guy Lamb , Stellenbosch University

good research questions about unemployment

Job hunting: why taking regular breaks is vital for your well-being and success

Serge da Motta Veiga , Neoma Business School

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205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best unemployment topic ideas & essay examples, 👍 good essay topics on unemployment, 📌 simple & easy unemployment essay titles, 💡 interesting topics to write about unemployment, ✍️ unemployment essay topics for college, ❓ essay questions on unemployment.

  • Unemployment Leads to Crime Essay In the 1990s, the rate of unemployment was low and so was the rate of property crime. Crime rates increase steadily in society, and the rate of crime is connected to unemployment and low wages.
  • Youth Unemployment as a Social Issue Different factors have led to the high levels of youth unemployment, with the most widely studied of them being the skills that are available to the unemployed youths.
  • Youth Unemployment and Policy Solutions The inability to address the problem of unemployment in the given age group may result in the growth of criminal activity, child poverty, and people’s negative perceptions of life.
  • Unemployment The following are some of the advantages of using the hard system method It provides a deeper understanding and analysis of the problem of unemployment and answers the question of how to mitigate the unemployment […]
  • Unemployment Rate Due to Impact of Technology By understanding the role of technology on unemployment, the public can develop innovative mechanisms to overcome the issue. The impact of technology on the labor market is relevant to my present and future life.
  • The Philippines’ Unemployment, Inequality, Poverty However, despite the strong emphasis of the government on income equality and poverty reduction along with the growth of GDP, both poverty and economic and social inequality remain persistent in the Philippines.
  • Unemployment: Causes and Effects Employers seek to recoup the costs of inflation by constantly increasing the financial performance of sales. One of these methods is to increase the gross profit ratio by reducing the cost of production.
  • The Increasing Rate of Unemployment In the United State of America, the rate of unemployment was at its highest in the year 2007. The topic of unemployment is important due to the impact that it has on the current economy.
  • Unemployment in Sweden: Causes and Solutions This research looks at one of her most celebrated program that turned out later on to be the source of misery to a good number of her population; that is the welfare program that was […]
  • Mergers, Acquisitions, and Downsizing This paper will highlight the differences between mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing and extrapolate the circumstances that can lead a company to adopt any of the three measures. The merging of companies in a horizontal arrangement […]
  • Unemployment and Lack of Economic Opportunity Having the majority of the population employed is critical for the economic and social stability of a nation. The third reason why employment and economic opportunities must be facilitated together is that it impacts the […]
  • Employment Law: Worker Termination and Dismissal While determining reasonable notice, companies should focus on such aspects as the age of a worker, the length of employment, the health of an employee, and the availability of jobs in the community.
  • Social Theory & its Relation to Social Problems: Unemployment. Furthermore, classical economists perceive unemployment as a result of excess supply that is influenced due to elevated price level of work labor.
  • Entrepreneurship: Reducing Unemployment The simultaneous demand for new skills, the training of which is still little accessible due to their novelty, and the loss of relevance of acquired skills lead to unemployment.
  • Gender Gap’s Effect on Unemployment Rate In fact, the latter, namely, the rise in the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic, has increased the rates of unemployment significantly.
  • Unemployment and Underemployment This decision became a major step in relieving the social strain and allowing millions of people to survive the economic hardships caused by the imposed restrictions
  • Inflation and Unemployment in the United States In the 21st century, there are so many issues in the economy of the United States. This is increasing the demand for skilled workers by the day as opposed to the unskilled.
  • The Current Impact of Inflation and Unemployment on Germany’s Political/Economic System It is notable to recognize the fact that the rate of savings in the nation is quite high causing a dip in the rate of inflation.
  • Relationship Between Unemployment and Crimes Agnew, argue that crime is caused by strain that a person face throughout life, and this can be contributed to the degree of educational inequality in society.
  • Keynesian Theory of Unemployment This brings to the conclusion that during such times the government should implement policies that are aimed at increasing aggregate demand According to Robert the, policies which the government may implement in order to reduce […]
  • Robots as a Factor in Unemployment Patterns One of the prevailing arguments in regards to this problem is that the advent of the robot technology is contributing towards a high rate of unemployment.
  • Downsizing: Reasons and Consequences The reason for the perceived lack of alternatives may lie in the lack of creative thinking on the part of the manager, however.
  • Media Coverage of Unemployment Content analysis on the topic of coverage of unemployment in the media allows you to analyze the mood and opinion of society, the tone of expression in the published media, and conclude the nature of […]
  • Unemployment Rate: Impact on GDP and Inflation In such a way, the scenario shows it is vital to preserve the balance and avoid decisions focusing on only one aspect of the economy.
  • Unemployment and Economic Dynamism This type of unemployment is a natural part of the economy and is generally considered to be healthy, as it allows workers to move to new, better-paying jobs.
  • Unemployment Among Emerging Adults The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults is due to the following reasons: personal skills, level of education, behavioral characteristics, and lack of capital.
  • Stimulus Checks: Impact of Unemployment A stimulus check is sent to taxpaying consumers to boost the economy as it provides funds for them to consume. The stimulus check offered included a high economic relief bill to deal with the pandemic.
  • The Unemployment Issue in China The People’s Republic of China is the largest country in terms of population and the third largest country in the world in terms of territory.
  • Downsizing for Optimizing Firm Efficiency The adoption of downsizing to mitigate the challenges mentioned above forms the basis of discussion for this paper. The section below highlights some of the benefits accrue to a firm that adopts the policy.
  • Jamaica’s Unemployment and Positive Youth Development Although a recent positive trend in decreasing levels of joblessness is apparent as the country revitalizes its main source of income, the problem of the high level of unemployment among youth is persistent.
  • How COVID-19 Affected Unemployment Rate Around the World A study on the effects of COVID-19 on the employment levels in the European economies found that the pandemic led to rapid unemployment in the economies of Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
  • Unemployment and Business Cycle in Australia The unemployment rate calculation formula is quite simple the number of unemployed people is divided by the total number of people in the civilian workforce.
  • Unemployment Rate After COVID-19 However, there is a visible disparity between the national unemployment rate and that of the Hispanic or Latino demographic group, which was 12.
  • Unemployment Analysis and Its Measures The Federal Reserve Economic Data graphs indicate that before the Great Recession, the unemployment and total unemployment rates were relatively low at 5% and 8.
  • The Federal Unemployment Tax Some percent of wages is retained by the employer from the employee’s pay, who then remits the funds to the government on the worker’s behalf.
  • The Federal Unemployment Tax Act Rates In conclusion, FUTA rates regulate the unemployment rates by punishing states that fail to keep their economies balanced in times of crisis, yet they are essential for preventing a decline in the job market.
  • Income and Unemployment in the US Economy Further, one may say that both fiscal and monetary policies work to promote the U.S.economy’s achievement of the three goals, including full employment, economic growth, and stable prices.
  • The Unemployment Problem in Panama This paper aims to review two current news articles about Panama, which reveal the issue of the high unemployment rate in this country, which continues to increase and has taken the form of a crisis.
  • Issue of Unemployment: Social Inequality The deep socio-economic divides in American society have impacted the unemployment rates even before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the virus has exacerbated the issue.
  • Unemployment Disparity Affecting African Americans Systemic racism in the the primary cause of the unemployment gap. Compared to white Americans, African Americans have a relatively low rate of education in the U.S.
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IvyPanda. (2024, March 3). 205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples.

"205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." IvyPanda , 3 Mar. 2024,

IvyPanda . (2024) '205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples'. 3 March.

IvyPanda . 2024. "205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." March 3, 2024.

1. IvyPanda . "205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." March 3, 2024.


IvyPanda . "205 Unemployment Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." March 3, 2024.

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6 questions about unemployment and the labor force


Updated 10/29/2021 Jacob Reed 1. What does it mean to be unemployed?

The unemployment rate is one of the most watched and publicized labor force statistics, but many people are confused about what it actually measures. The unemployment rate is the percentage of people in the labor force who are not working, but are actively looking for work.  As of the writing of this article, the official (U-3) unemployment rate was 4.0% (see the  BLS for the current unemployment rate ).


The formula for the unemployment rate is: Unemployed/Labor Force x 100 = Unemployment Rate

2. Who is not counted in the unemployment rate?

The official unemployment rate (U-3) does not count people who are not actively looking for work. As a result, there may be some workers who recently lost their jobs and want jobs, but aren’t actively looking. These people are considered out of the labor force. There are also some people who lost their jobs a long time ago but have given up looking for work within the last 12 months. These are called discouraged workers and they are also considered out of the labor force so they are not reflected in the official unemployment rate.  Also, underemployed members of the labor force who have part-time jobs but are looking for full time jobs are counted as employed. For all of these reasons, the official unemployment rate may not always reflect an accurate picture of the overall labor market. The bureau of labor statistics does track all of these groups and includes them in the U-6 measure of unemployment. As of the writing of this article, the U-6 rate was 8.1% (see the  BLS for the current rate ).

3. Who is in the labor force? The labor force includes civilian citizens who are at least 16 years of age and are either employed or actively looking for work. To be considered employed, a person must work for pay or profit for one or more hours in the given week,  work without pay in a family business for 15 or more hours, or have a job but didn’t work due to vacation, illness, labor dispute, etc. After a recession, the unemployment rate may fall if unemployed workers leave the workforce. This lowers the unemployment rate and can give a false sense that the labor market has improved.

The formula for the labor force is:

Working + Looking for Work = Labor Force

4. What is the labor force participation rate?

The labor force participation rate is the percentage the working age population that is either working or looking for work. The formula is:

[(Working + Looking for Work)/Working Age Civilian Population] x 100 = Labor Force Participation Rate

The labor force participation rate in the United States fell during the last recession as some citizens lost their jobs and gave up looking for work. As the economy has improved the labor force participation rate is rising again, but it has not recovered back to pre recession levels.  As of the writing of this article, the labor force participation rate in the US was 63.2% (see the  BLS for the current rate ). This statistic gives economists a sense of how many people are choosing to be part of an economy’s labor force. A higher participation rate will shift the  production possibilities curve  outward. A lower participation rate will shift it inward. 

5. What types of unemployment are there?

Seasonal Unemployment:  This type of unemployment is often not discussed on many macroeconomics exams because the official unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted; meaning seasonal unemployment has been deleted out of the statistic. Seasonal unemployment occurs when workers lose their jobs due to the time of year. Lifeguards getting laid off in the winter and temporary store retail clerks getting laid off after the holiday shopping season are two examples. Seasonal unemployment is a natural part of a healthy economy.

Frictional Unemployment:  This type of unemployment is characterized by movement between jobs. When a college graduate is looking for her first job, a cook quits his restaurant job, or a brick mason is fired from construction company, all three of these people are now frictionally unemployed. Frictional unemployment is a natural part of a healthy economy.

Structural Unemployment:  This type of unemployment is most often characterized by a skills mismatch; meaning the skills unemployed workers have do not match the skills needed for the jobs available. These workers must go back to school or be retrained to get the skills they need. This type of unemployment can be caused by technological changes like ATM machines replacing banking tellers.  Structural unemployment is also a natural part of a healthy economy as well. As the economy changes, some structural unemployment is inevitable.

Cyclical Unemployment:  This is unemployment caused by the business cycle. People unemployed as a result of the great depression of the 1930’s and the recent great recession were cyclically unemployed. Cyclical unemployment is characterized by an overall downturn in the economy. A recessionary gap in the  AS/AD model  is an indication of cyclical unemployment. 

6. What is full employment (or the natural rate of unemployment)? Full employment is defined as zero cyclical unemployment; or when the unemployment rate equals frictional unemployment plus structural unemployment (seasonal unemployment is already deleted from official numbers). When the economy is at full employment the unemployment rate will equal what is called the natural rate of unemployment (NRU). This occurs when an economy is at long-run equilibrium in the  AS/AD model  and there is no inflationary or recessionary gap. As of the writing of this article, the long run natural rate of unemployment, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, was 4.55% (see the  St. Louis Fed for current estimates ).

Up Next:  Content Review Page:   Production Possibilities Curve

 Outside Resources:  mjmfoodie  (definition of unemployment),  mjmfoodie  (types of unemployment)

**AP©, Advanced Placement Program©, and College Board© are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this material. IB is a registered trade mark of International Baccalaureate Organization which was also not involved in the production of and does not endorse this material.**

I would like to acknowledge the work of Dick Brunelle and Steven Reff from whose work inspired many of the review games on this site. I would also like to thank Francis McMann, James Chasey, and Steven Reff who taught me how to be an effective AP Economics teacher at AP summer institutes; as well as the countless high school teachers, and college professors from the AP readings, economics Facebook groups, and #econtwitter. 


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

Are you also learning about dynamic equilibrium in your science class? We break this sometimes tricky concept down so it's easy to understand in our complete guide to dynamic equilibrium .

Thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners have one of the fastest growing careers in the country, and we have all the information you need to know about what to expect from nurse practitioner school .

Want to know the fastest and easiest ways to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius? We've got you covered! Check out our guide to the best ways to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (or vice versa).

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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