Unemployment is not a monolithic phenomenon, and unemployed people are not a homogenous group. There are numerous causes and explanations for why any one person is unemployed. Structural unemployment, frictional unemployment, and seasonal unemployment are some of the most common types.
Marcelle is experiencing cyclical unemployment, which is tied to macroeconomic forces beyond her control. As Marcelle puts it, the firm closed because the market contracted. Sluggish economic growth or basic supply and demand factors can lead to companies needing to downsize their workforces, rendering otherwise loyal and able workers redundant. When the entire economy is sluggish, workers like Marcelle will have a difficult time finding a job in the same or even in another industry. The entire economy is tightened up, restricting access to jobs and creating a large pool of unemployed laborers. Of course, part of the problem in Marcelle’s case and with others like her is corporate greed, as CEOs are unwilling to take pay cuts from their bloated salaries in lieu of laying off workers. Marcelle is most certainly eligible for unemployment insurance, either from her state or from federal funding sources. One of the keynotes of eligibility is being unemployed due to no fault of the person’s own (State of California Employment Development Department, 2014).
Dominic is in a different position. She experiences frictional unemployment. Frictional unemployment refers to individuals in personal transitions and who are unemployed due to the situations in their lives. For example, Dominic wanted to move from Cincinnati to New York City. Because she moved, she is temporarily unemployed. Because Dominic’s form of unemployment can be defined as voluntary, she would most likely not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless over time she were able to prove that finding work in New York City had proved to be impossible.
Beauvoir experiences structural unemployment. Structural unemployment is similar to cyclical unemployment in that it is related to macroeconomic forces beyond the control of the individual. In Beauvoir’s case, she has failed to maintain or upgrade her skills. The labor market has changed, as the job descriptions and roles for secretary have changed over time. She was let off, rather than her supervisor paying for Beauvoir to upgrade her skills. This means that she is eligible for unemployment insurance, and should then be able to upgrade her skills and find new work.
Francine’s unemployment is seasonal in nature. Seasonal unemployment can be defined as being structural in nature due to the seasonal nature of the skiing economy, (Moffatt, n.d.). However, Francine’s situation is far different from that of Beauvoir. Beauvoir wants to work, but cannot due to structural issues in the economic system related to the skills set of the current labor market. Francine could technically decide to work another seasonal job in the summertime, but chooses not to. Because her choice is to avoid working until the ski season begins again, Francine is not eligible for unemployment benefits. Some seasonal workers may, however, be eligible for unemployment assistance.
Based on these case studies, unemployment is generally due to either personal or macroeconomic factors. Personal factors such as moving or transitioning from school to the workforce may render a person ineligible for unemployment insurance. However, some types of personal factors such as seasonal unemployment might warrant unemployment insurance. Macroeconomic factors that cause unemployment, including changes to technology as Beauvoir experiences, or economic downturns as Marcelle has encountered, usually mean that the person is unemployed due to no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance is designed to help people like those.
Moffatt, M. (n.d.). What are the three types of unemployment? About.com. Retrieved online: http://economics.about.com/od/typesofunemployment/p/three_types_of_unemployment.htm
State of California Employment Development Department (2014). Eligibility. Retrieved online: http://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/eligibility.htm
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