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RECENT CHANGES IN THE CHARACTERISTICS OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS



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RECENT CHANGES IN THE CHARACTERISTICS OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS October 2009 Marios Michaelides IMPAQ International Peter Mueser University of Missouri and IMPAQ International ABSTRACT We examine how gender racial and ethnic variation in unemployment and Unemployment Insurance UI receipt changed over time in the U S economy and how these changes are influenced by shifts in the occupational and industrial composition of employment Using Current Population Survey CPS data we find that in the past 50 years the unemployment rates for women nonwhites and Hispanics have been converging to those of the rest of the population Between 1992 and 2007 women had the same unemployment rates as men nonwhites still had higher unemployment rates than whites and the rate for Hispanics was approaching that of non Hispanics Once we control for industry occupation differences women have higher unemployment and UI receipt rates than men while Hispanics have similar unemployment rates but lower UI receipt rates than non Hispanics Nonwhites still have appreciably higher unemployment rates but the same UI receipt rates as whites JEL Codes J11 J15 J16 J65 Keywords Unemployment Unemployment Insurance Gender Race Ethnicity 1 Introduction In the past 50 years the demographic composition of the U S labor force has experienced dramatic changes The labor force participation of women has increased substantially and currently women are nearly as likely as men to participate in the labor market As a result the U S labor force is almost equally split between men and women The shares of nonwhites in the U S labor force have also increased over time and the share of Hispanics has exploded In the face of these changes significant research has focused on documenting the shifts in demographic composition of the labor force in the past 50 years Fullerton and Toossi 2001 Toossi 2002 Lee and Mather 2008 During the same period there were important differences in the unemployment experience of major demographic



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