Structural vs. Cyclical Unemployment
Cyclical adjustments are reversible responses to lulls in demand, while structural adjustments transform a firm or industry by relocating workers and capital. The job losses associated with cyclical shocks are temporary: at the end of the recession, industries rebound and laid-off workers are recalled to their old firms or readily find comparable employment with another firm. Job losses that stem from structural changes, however, are permanent: as industries decline, jobs are eliminated, compelling workers to switch industries, sectors, locations, or skills in order to find a new job.I propose a different scenario:
Suppose there is rapid technological change in a number of industries. Suppose further that as a result, the marginal productivity of labour sky-rockets in those industries. Labour is attracted to those industries, not forced from the old, unchanging industries. Old industries decline and jobs are lost there, but at the same time, there are many new jobs and opportunities in new and growing industries.
How long does it take labour to move from one job to a different one? In general, probably no longer than it takes to sit home on unemployment waiting for a call-back on a cyclical unemployment job.
I much prefer to think of unemployment as job search.