BPEA | 1981 No. 2

Measuring Unemployment

Lawrence H. Summers
Lawrence H. Summers Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus - Harvard University

1981, No. 2

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE is probably the most closely watched
economic indicator in the United States. Discretionary fiscal, monetary,
and public employment policies all respond to it. And especially in times
of recession, economists, policymakers, and the public are extraordinarily
attentive to its monthly variations. The importance of the unemployment
rate thus makes essential an understanding of its monthly fluctuations.