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Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Spells of Unemployment 2001-2003

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Report Number P70-105


This report presents data from the 2001 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) on how long people remained unemployed during each of the times (spells) they experienced unemployment. The data cover the period of January 2001 through December 2003. The table in the appendix displays the detailed statistical data analyzed in this report.

The labor market of the United States is dynamic and flexible, changing as people enter and exit it or change jobs within it. As the overall structure of the U.S. economy continues to shift from a manufacturing base to a service-oriented base, so does the demand for particular types of labor.1 Data on spells of unemployment provide an insight into how easily the market allows people to make these transitions and respond to shifts in labor demand.

11 For a more thorough discussion of U.S. economic structural change and its relationship to changing labor demands, see Kevin Murphy and Finis Welch, “Industrial Change and the Rising Importance of Skill,” pages 101–132 in Uneven Tides: Rising Inequality in America, Sheldon H. Danziger and Peter Gottschalk, eds., 1993; George E. Johnson, “Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts,” pages 41–54 in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 1997; and Daron Acemoglu, “Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market,” pages 7–72 in Journal of Economic Literature, March 2002.

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