What Causes Changes in Unemployment over the Short Run

Self-Check Questions

Beginning in the 1970s and continuing for three decades, women entered the U.S. labor force in a big way. If we assume that wages are sticky in a downward direction, but that around 1970 the demand for labor equaled the supply of labor at the current wage rate, what do you imagine happened to the wage rate, employment, and unemployment as a result of increased labor force participation?


Because of the influx of women into the labor market, the supply of labor shifts to the right. Since wages are sticky downward, the increased supply of labor causes an increase in people looking for jobs (Qs), but no change in the number of jobs available (Qe). As a result, unemployment increases by the amount of the increase in the labor supply. This can be seen in the following figure.

Over time, as labor demand grows, the unemployment will decline and eventually wages will begin to increase again. But this increase in labor demand goes beyond the scope of this problem.

This graph represents the initial scenario outlined by the question. There is one downward sloping demand curve and two upward sloping supply curves. Line We intersects with line Qe at the same point where the demand curve intersects with supply curve S sub 1.