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Mr. Niels-Jakob H Hansen, Mr. Joannes Mongardini, and Fan Zhang
Output gap estimates are widely used to inform macroeconomic policy decisions, including in Korea. The main determinant of these estimates is the measure of labor market slack. The traditional measure of unemployment in Korea yields an incomplete estimate of labor market slack, given that many workers prefer involuntary part-time jobs or leaving the labor force rather than registering as unemployed. This paper discusses a way in which the measure of unemployment can be broadened to yield a more accurate measure of labor market slack. This broader measure is then used to estimate the output gap using a multivariate filter, yielding a more meaningful measure of the output gap.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper studies economic growth in Uruguay. Following the 2002 crisis, Uruguay had a remarkable economic recovery. The major growth acceleration in 2004–14 was explained by a combination of positive external factors, recovery from crisis, and emergence of new export sectors. With external factors no longer a support for growth, Uruguay needs to leverage its strengths to raise growth sustainably. Uruguay’s high level of institutional quality and social cohesion provides a stable container for growth. A comparison relative to its trading partners and high growth peers helps identify areas that Uruguay can further enhance to unleash its growth potential. These include, a strong, flexible, and equitable labor market, better education outcomes, higher private sector dynamism, and continued macro stability. Structural policy reforms on key constraints to the private sector will help realize the potential of the new export industries and set the stage for inclusive growth. A strong and credible macro policy framework is also essential for growth sustainability. Efforts to reduce debt, inflation, and dollarization and keep them at low levels will lay the foundations for structural reforms to flourish.
Mr. Waikei R Lam, Xiaoguang Liu, and Mr. Alfred Schipke
As China implements reforms under the “new normal,” maintaining stability in the labor market is a priority. The country’s demography and labor dynamics are changing, after benefitting in past decades from ample cheap labor. So far, the labor market appears to be resilient, even as growth slows, driven in part by expansion of the services sector. Migrant flows and possible labor hoarding in overcapacity sectors may also help explain this. Yet, while the latter two factors help serve as shock absorbers— contributing to labor market stability in the short term—if they persist, they may delay the needed adjustment process, contributing to an inefficient allocation of resources and curtailing productivity gains. This paper quantifies to what extent structural trends and the reform pace affect employment growth under the new normal. Delays in reform implementation would weaken growth prospects in the medium term, running the risk that job creation will fall below policy targets, leading to labor market pressures in the future. In contrast, successful transition might require faster reforms, including in the overcapacity and state-owned enterprise sectors, supported by well targeted social safety nets.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on the United Kingdom finds that the main factors behind the slowdown include weak productivity growth, labor market slack, and low inflation. Recent labor market developments in the United Kingdom appear to point to disconnect between unemployment and wages. Although the unemployment rate has fallen to a 40-year low, wage growth continues to growth at a subdued pace. The analysis in this paper suggests that this puzzle is explained by persistent weak productivity growth and well-anchored inflation expectations, as well as by greater effective labor market slack than suggested by the headline unemployment rate. Broader measures of underemployment—accounting for involuntary part-time unemployment, inactive and self-employed people seeking regular jobs—suggest that slack in the labor market was higher than implied by the unemployment rate in recent years. Persistent tightness of the labor market should prompt some firming of wage growth in the coming year, everything else equal. A mild increase in unit labor costs would help bring domestically generated inflation in line with the inflation target.