Economics » Unemployment » What Causes Changes in Unemployment over the Long Run

Natural Unemployment and Potential Real GDP

The natural unemployment rate is related to two other important concepts: full employment and potential real GDP. The economy is considered to be at full employment when the actual unemployment rate is equal to the natural unemployment. When the economy is at full employment, real GDP is equal to potential real GDP.

By contrast, when the economy is below full employment, the unemployment rate is greater than the natural unemployment rate and real GDP is less than potential. Finally, when the economy above full employment, then the unemployment rate is less than the natural unemployment rate and real GDP is greater than potential. Operating above potential is only possible for a short while, since it is analogous to all workers working overtime.


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